Creating a Teacher Orientation Seminar for Certification Candidates: Priming Your Students for Success

By Thornburg, Roland A.; Uline, Carol et al. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Creating a Teacher Orientation Seminar for Certification Candidates: Priming Your Students for Success


Thornburg, Roland A., Uline, Carol, Wilson, Janell D., Journal of Instructional Psychology


Orientation seminars for college freshmen facilitate the transition of students from high school to college. Could similar seminars work as well for those who want to be educators? Creating a Teacher Orientation Seminar for education candidates standardizes the transfer of information and confirms commitment for third-year undergraduates and fifth-year nontraditional students seeking admission to a Teacher Education Program. In seminar format, education candidates profit from information about College of Education requirements and expectations as well as discussion time for processing field observation experiences with faculty facilitators. A Teacher Orientation Seminar may benefit students as well as faculty who partner in their commitment to quality pre-service teacher preparation.

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A large body of research supports the success of orientation seminars for community college freshmen. Orientation seminars improve academic performance, retention, and program completion (Raymond & Napoli, 1988). Orientation seminars build foundations for academic success, promote student interaction with faculty and staff, and convey values and traditions of the new experience (Upcraft, M., Gardner, J., & Barefoot, B., 2005). Orientation sessions bridge the gap between previous environment and collegial environment. Results of most successful orientation seminars are positively correlated with subsequent academic success and better-adjusted students (Raymond & Napoli, 1988). A credible program is one that facilitates the transition of new students, prepares them for their new learning environment, and integrates them into the academic and social fabric of their new institution (Upcraft, M., Gardner, J., & Barefoot, B., 2005).

Although research supports the success of orientation seminars with first-year community-college students, less data are available from universities that offer orientation seminars to third-year undergraduate and fifth-year graduate students who seek admission to the school's College of Education program. Following the basic studies' session of the college program, prospective education candidates sometimes appear confused with admission requirements, advisement issues, course prerequisites, observation reflections, and all facets of the expectations of the Teacher Education Program. If orientation seminars bolster students' transition from high school to college, why not use the same process to initiate education candidates into the Teacher Education Program?

Planning the First Teacher Orientation Seminar

A committee from The College of Education and Professional Studies formed with the charge to develop the Teacher Orientation Seminar (TOS). The only ground rules were to orient the students to the College's Conceptual Framework, clarify admission requirements, and familiarize the teacher candidates with the expectations of the College of Education and Professional Studies.

According to Raymond & Napoli (1988), any discussion of orientation program components must relate to the mission and goals of the specific college. The Teacher Orientation Seminar committee, composed of elementary, secondary, and physical education faculty, in the College of Education and Professional Studies, developed the following key components of the Teacher Orientation Seminar.

* Mission (Conceptual Framework) of the College of Education and Professional Studies

* Entrance requirements, policies, and procedures of the Teacher Education Program

* Requirements for recording and reflecting on the 25 hours of observation during the seminar course

* Professionalism in the local schools

* Follow-up meeting to share observation reflections, to discuss concerns, and to air questions

The TOS committee began its work by concentrating on the Conceptual Framework's Eight Learning Outcomes, the azimuth of the College of Education's mission.

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