An Investigation of the Instructional Pedagogy and Assessment Strategies Used by Teacher Educators in Two Universities within a State System of Higher Education

By Rieg, Sue A.; Wilson, Barbara A. | Education, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

An Investigation of the Instructional Pedagogy and Assessment Strategies Used by Teacher Educators in Two Universities within a State System of Higher Education


Rieg, Sue A., Wilson, Barbara A., Education


Introduction

Institutions of higher education, along with public school districts, are struggling with the issues of high stakes testing and accountability. Teacher preparation programs are being held to high standards in order to prepare the best teachers to meet the challenges of today's diverse classrooms. This study investigated the experience teacher education faculty in two state school system universities have actually teaching in public or private elementary and/or secondary school classrooms, what pedagogical methods and assessment strategies are being used, and what pedagogical and assessment strategies are perceived as effective for use in higher education classrooms.

Literature Review

"Teaching children--to recognize letters, to read for the first time, to understand how a tree grows--is one of the most important jobs in America. The nation's future depends, in large part, on how well it is done. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) is the profession's mechanism to help establish high quality teacher preparation. Through the process of professional accreditation of schools, colleges and departments of education, NCATE works to make a difference in the quality of teaching and teacher preparation today, tomorrow, and for the next century. NCATE's performance-based system of accreditation fosters competent classroom teachers and other educators who work to improve the education of all P-12 students. NCATE believes every student deserves a caring, competent, and highly qualified teacher" (www.ncate.org). Accreditation is a "hot topic" in higher education institutions with teacher preparation programs. This literature review will explore the pedagogical approaches and classroom assessment practices of faculty members in higher education classrooms.

The Pedagogy of University Teaching

New university faculty members are often hired with no previous teaching experience or formal knowledge about pedagogy. Professors are rarely provided any instruction or professional development in the pedagogy of teaching. One attempt to "revitalize" undergraduate education is by shifting pedagogy to a learner-centered focus and "supporting an emphasis on the scholarship of teaching and learning" (Harris & Cullen, 2008, p. 58).

According to Bain (2004) the best college teachers recognize that intelligence is expandable (students can learn), know their subjects extremely well, are active scholars, create environments that are supportive yet challenging, have a strong trust in students, and care about student learning and deep knowledge. Professors with deep understanding of their subjects are more likely to find alternative ways of explaining concepts, create meaningful metaphors, and provide meaningful rationale for learning. Bain also suggested professors who are willing to relinquish some control are able to create a learning centered environment. This is supported by other researchers who found that motivation and self confidence are jeopardized by a lack of control and the more teachers use control measures the more students resist learning (Perry, 1997; Zull, 2002). Filene (2005) posited that effective teachers take students out of their comfort zones and challenge them with "unsettling ideas, set high standards, demand introspection and hard work--all the while, heeding how students are responding" (p. 3). And Finkel (2000) defined "good teaching" as "... the creation of those circumstances that lead to significant learning in others" (p. 8). He went on to say that "Learning is the end; teaching is a means to that end. Teachers must never forget that end when devising ways to teach" (p. 8).

In 1995, Tom Drummond compiled a collection of practices that he believed constituted excellence in college teaching. The following are his core set of Best Practices:

1. Lecture Practices are defined as effective ways to present new information orally to fit differences in learning styles. …

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