Academic journal article Community College Review

Do University Centers Produce Comparable Teacher Education Candidates?

Academic journal article Community College Review

Do University Centers Produce Comparable Teacher Education Candidates?

Article excerpt

This study investigates the effectiveness of a two-plus-two university center teacher education program. In this program, the entire curriculum is delivered on community college campuses; community college faculty members deliver the general education coursework, and university faculty members deliver coursework in the teacher education program area. A comparison of university center teacher education graduates with graduates who completed their programs on the university campus yielded no significant differences across several measures, including grades, assessments of dispositions, progress reports, and self-assessments of competence. The findings suggest that the university center model is a viable alternative to traditional, on-campus teacher education programs and may help address the teacher shortage--especially in rural areas--by reducing geographic and fiscal barriers to baccalaureate teacher education programs.

Keywords: teacher education; university centers; student outcomes; rural education

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During the next decade, the demand for new teachers in the United States will exceed 2 million (Chambers, Chaloupka, & Weeks, 2003). The growing nationwide teacher shortage, which can be seen in the disparity between the number of candidates prepared by teacher education programs and the demand for teachers, has educational leaders and policy makers exploring different roles for community colleges in the preparation of teachers. Community college involvement in teacher preparation has the potential to produce up to one fourth of the teachers needed to meet the growing demand during the next decade (Blair, 2002; Floyd & Walker, 2003). Community colleges are also attractive sites for recruiting future teachers because they enroll a large percentage of first-time college freshmen and have a student population that is more diverse than the student populations at other postsecondary institutions (Floyd & Walker, 2003; Waiwaiole & Boswell, 2001). In addition, rural areas, which often face the most significant teacher shortages, may benefit the most from community college involvement if access to teacher education degree programs can be extended to these areas. In a study of teacher labor markets, Boyd, Lankford, Loeb, and Wyckoff (2005) found that most teachers prefer to teach in communities with characteristics that are similar to their hometowns; in their study, 61% of all teachers first taught in schools within 15 miles of their hometowns.

To increase access to 4-year degrees, collaborative partnerships called two-plus-two programs have been developed between community colleges and public or private teacher education programs. One type of two-plus-two partnership, the university center model, delivers the entire course of study for the degree on the campus of the community college (Floyd & Walker, 2003). In this model, candidates in the university center follow the same curriculum, have the same degree expectations, and meet the same academic standards as the on-campus students. The community college faculty deliver the general education coursework, and the university faculty delivers coursework in the teacher education program area. All programmatic decisions for the first two years are made by the community college, and all programmatic decisions for the final two years are made by the university. Students can complete their general education coursework through the community college and then complete the university degree coursework without having to attend classes on the main campus of the university. This model is especially useful in rural areas, which are often most affected by a lack of access to 4-year degree programs and by teacher shortages (Evelyn, 2002).

Although two-plus-two programs in a variety of models have flourished in the past 5 years, research on the efficacy of these partnerships is meager. Ignash and Townsend (2003) emphasized the importance of states conducting longitudinal studies that examine the effect of authorizing community colleges to offer 4-year degrees; they suggested that community college baccalaureate graduates and traditional 4-year college graduates should be compared on measures such as national teacher education examinations. …

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