Master of Arts in Teaching: A Progressive Alternative to Traditional Teacher-Preparation Programs
Kern, Jack C., Mason, Kim, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance
The educational system in America seems to be under constant scrutiny. Consequently, teacher educators in universities and instructors in our public schools have focused much attention on the improvement of education for our children. Unfortunately, instead of using a collaborative approach to resolve the problems of the educational system, both groups have functioned independently. Their attempts have often been impeded by a lack of continuity and harmony (Martinek & Schempp, 1988).
Studies on excellence in teaching (Adler, 1982; Goodlad, 1984) have bolstered the concept that improvement in teaching will come about through the combined efforts of those who teach about teaching and those who teach our youth. Recent recommendations by the Holmes Group, an organization dedicated to the reform of teacher education, have focused on the development of collaborative cohort groups made up of both university and public school personnel.
In the area of physical education, it is important to develop strong collaborative models. It is no secret that the quality of physical education programs in our schools has dramatically declined in the last decade, demonstrated by increasingly large class sizes, reduced physical education requirements, and often poor instructional efforts resulting from lack of administrative concern. This can be at least partially attributed to the inability of universities to develop a trusting and collaborative relationship with cooperating public schools. In fact, the term "cooperating teacher" may be simply a figure of speech. The independent operation of the university and public school systems has led to anything but a cooperative atmosphere. Often the relationship is more characterized by suspicion and indifference than by confidence and unity (Martinek & Schempp, 1988).
One alternative to the traditional method of teacher preparation is the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) program offered at the University of Arkansas in collaboration with the Rogers School District. The M.A.T. represents an effort to reform the process of preparing students for careers as teachers. It involves a five-year commitment, consisting of graduate level course work and an extensive internship in the fifth year. Students completing the program earn the M.A.T. degree and will be certified to teach. Table 1 outlines the primary differences between the M.A.T. and traditional four-year programs.
Table 1. Major Differences Between the M.A.T. and the Traditional Teacher-Preparation Program New Program Old Program 36-week (one-school year) k-12 experience 12-week k-12 experience 161-hour (5-year) program 128-hour (4-year) program Bachelor of Science in Education and Bachelor of Science in Master of Arts in Teaching Degrees Education Degree Some coursework taken during All coursework taken k-12 experience before k-12 experience Students work in cohort groups Students work independently University supervisors housed University supervisors in public schools housed at university Minimum of two visits per week One visit every two weeks Collaborative effort from lead teachers Independent assessment and university supervisors from lead teacher and university supervisor
Organizational Structure of the M.A.T.
Students pursuing the M.A.T. degree earn a Bachelor's of Science in Education degree after completing a 128-hour undergraduate curriculum. The B.S.E. program includes university core courses, a preeducation core, and classes in the student's major discipline (e. …