Standard 5: Faculty Qualifications, Performances, and Development
|Faculty are qualified and model best professional practices in scholarship, service, and teaching, including the assessment of their own effectiveness as related to candidate performance; they also collaborate with colleagues in the disciplines and schools. The unit systematically evaluates faculty performance and facilitates professional development.
5.1 How does the unit ensure that its professional education faculty contributes to the preparation of effective educators?
5a. Qualified Faculty
The faculty in the Professional Education Unit at Pittsburg State University are comprised of a community of teacher/scholars who embody the mission of the Unit - to prepare Competent, Committed, Caring Professionals. The Unit believes that to produce graduates who can achieve this mission, the faculty must also reflect these ideals as noted in one of the Unit's belief statements: Competent, Committed, Caring faculty and staff lead to the development of Competent, Committed, Caring Professionals. To achieve this belief, the Unit has put in place the strategies, funding, and systems to recruit, develop, evaluate, and retain highly qualified faculty. Also, the Unit has placed a focus on the core of academe - teaching, scholarly activity, and service.
Faculty members are highly qualified with expertise in specific academic areas; not only do they represent the four departments included in the College of Education (COE) but also faculty from 12 different University departments who teach in the teacher education program. Data regarding 78 faculty members indicate that 64 (82%) hold doctorates, 5 (6.4 %) hold specialist degrees, 9 (11.5 %) have master's degrees. For the fall semester of 2010, 80 percent of Unit faculty were in tenured or tenure-earning positions, and 20 percent in annual appointments.
Faculty members without terminal degrees are selected through a rigorous hiring process; credentials are reviewed and conditions related to professional knowledge and expertise are verified. In most cases if a terminal degree has not been attained, the faculty member is in the process of completing a terminal degree program. When a faculty member within the unit does not hold a license, he or she must possess exceptional expertise or skills. Most faculty members have held or continue to hold licensure in their professional field. Adjunct faculty members are hired because they have specialized knowledge and skills that support and enhance the practitioner aspect of the program and are currently licensed and practicing professional educators.
One of the unique aspects of the Pittsburg State University program is its commitment to highly qualified clinical faculty. For example, the Unit currently has six full-time faculty who provide the supervision for student teaching. Four of these have terminal degrees, one is in the process of completing a dissertation, and one was hired because of an extensive and highly successful background as a teacher and educational leader. Clinical faculty have contemporary professional experiences in school settings at the levels they supervise and hold or have held licensure in their professional fields. This investment by the university in highly credentialed supervisors has enabled the Unit to provide high quality supervision for its candidates by individuals who are knowledgeable about the Unit's professional knowledge base.
The PK-12 teachers who serve as the Unit's cooperating teachers are selected because of their credentials (must be fully licensed and preferably meet the highly qualified definition), their professional experience (they must have at least three years of classroom experience) and their commitment to help Pittsburg State University prepare the next generation of teachers. (5.2a-l) The Unit has built and continues to build close relationships with cooperating teachers and ensure they know the expectations in the knowledge base through the Professional Semester Handbook (CF.1b), PSU-sponsored workshops, and individual meetings with university supervisors.
Faculty members responsible for methods and techniques instruction have experience in the appropriate fields and at the appropriate levels. They stay current through contemporary experience working directly in PK-12 classrooms, through attendance at local, regional, and national workshops and conferences, through their own reading and research, and through extensive interactions with and service to current practitioners and professional organizations. For example one of the supervisors has been selected for a sabbatical in the spring of 2011 to develop a book on assisting new teachers and their mentors in the first three years of practice. This has emerged from a decade of outreach provided by Pittsburg State University to new teachers and their mentors through the Early Career Teacher Academy.
5b. Modeling Best Professional Practices in Teaching
Teaching is important at Pittsburg State University, and the university mission statement makes this clear: Excellence in teaching is the primary focus of the University. To this end, an infrastructure has been put in place to ensure that all faculty members understand and are supported in achieving this primary emphasis. For example, in the negotiated agreement between PSU/KNEA and the Kansas Board of Regents, this is codified by setting 50 percent as the minimum level of effort that can be devoted to teaching (p. 7, 5.5a). An improved new faculty orientation program was instituted in the past three years that provides training throughout a new faculty member's first year with topics that include ensuring student success, tools for teaching, student advising, utilizing faculty mentors, developing course syllabi, utilizing technology in the classroom, using the university instructional management system Angel, working with and embracing diversity, and assessing student learning. Also, each of the colleges now has an instructional support consultant that assists faculty in improving their instruction.
Faculty are prepared and have experience in the content they teach. They also stay current in their fields through their own professional reading, personal research, attendance at conference and workshops, active memberships in professional associations, and interaction with PK-12 schools.
Faculty utilize a variety of instructional strategies and assessment techniques designed to meet the varied needs and learning styles of individual and diverse learners. Strategies include lecture, discussion, demonstration, in-class and out-of-class writing projects, guest speakers, instructional media, problem solving activities, interactive distance learning, individualized assignments, exercises, activities, small group projects, laboratory experiences, peer teaching, role playing, fields trips, and seminar style interaction. An emphasis has been placed on the use of rubrics in assessment of student learning especially as it relates to assessment of program standards. Also, faculty utilize Angel which helps in the development of candidate's technology skills. These skills include the use of email, word processing, spreadsheets, Smartboards, internet resources, and PowerPoint. Also, some faculty have begun to use Tegrity which is a lecture capture tool.
Teacher education courses incorporate instructional objectives that are aligned with the CF Knowledge Base in addition to KSDE and professional education standards. Faculty ensure that candidates are taught these objectives and assess them according to the indicators included in the Initial Knowledge Base. The indicators included in the CF Knowledge Base on technology, diversity, and dispositions have enhanced the faculty's awareness of and commitment to preparing candidates to meet the Unit's expectations in these areas. Additionally, faculty encourage candidates to minor in either special education or ESOL or both to deepen their knowledge about educating all students. One of the most comprehensive assessments of a candidate's professional knowledge is through the Teacher Work Sample. This is completed as a part of the professional semester and requires candidate's to establish a learning objective, pre-assess student knowledge of the objective, design instruction that provides the maximum opportunity for all students to learn, assess student learning, and then reflect on their practice.
Teaching is formally assessed by students each semester using one of two approved instruments; the Student Perception of Teaching Effectiveness (SPTE), an anonymous multivariate survey instrument, or the Experiential Student Perception of Teaching Effectiveness (ESPTE) survey, developed locally to evaluate both laboratory instructors and on-line courses. In addition to these assessment tools, several departments have developed surveys to generate additional course information. After reviewing the results of student evaluations, faculty use this information to assess personal effectiveness, improve instruction, support curricular revision and in general, better meet the needs of candidates (5.6a, 5.6b).
5c. Modeling Best Professional Practices in Scholarship
Even though the primary focus of Pittsburg State University is on teaching, professional education faculty are actively engaged in scholarly activity as a part of their commitment to the core of academe. The negotiated agreement defines faculty commitment to scholarship at not less than 20 percent and identifies the areas of research, scholarship, and creative endeavor (pp. 80-82, 5.5a). Additionally, the performance appraisal process, tenure review, and promotion decisions all consider a faculty member's performance in this area (5.5b-h).
Over the past three years, faculty have been active in scholarship both in writing and in presentations as indicated on exhibits 5.1 and 5.3. The number and scope of this scholarship are a recognition of the faculty's expertise and ongoing interest in furthering knowledge of their respective disciplines. Also, faculty have averaged over $500,000 of funded grants for the past three years. It is important to note that external funds received by the Unit were used in collaboration with local education agencies. Two major grants were received in the past three years; both were focused on improving the supply of highly qualified teachers. The first was a teacher enhancement grant that supported efforts of the Unit in the Kansas City area to increase the number of second career teachers in high need fields. The other grant was to increase the supply of highly qualified middle school science teachers. Another grant funded by a private donor funded an experiential math program for upper elementary and middle school students and provided funding for research on the project to further knowledge about its effectiveness. Finally, an ongoing research effort in the Department of Psychology and Counseling is focused on the assessment and remediation of reading difficulties.
5d. Modeling Best Professional Practices in Service
Unit faculty are engaged in meaningful service at the university and in the education community of the region as well as at the state and national levels. Unit faculty serve on a variety of university, college and departmental committees. Examples of university service include faculty senate, program review, undergraduate curriculum committee, graduate council, special task forces, and leadership searches. Examples of college service include curriculum, assessment, diversity, council of teacher education, planning, constitution, teacher education accreditation, educational resources, and secondary coordinating council. Examples of department service include promotion, tenure, and planning.
A majority of faculty spend considerable time working directly with public schools in the area. Community service has long been a valued tradition at PSU and this collaboration reinforces the institution's public service commitment which is to meet the continuing educational needs of the region's public school personnel. Faculty members offer a wide-array of in-services to school districts in southeast Kansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma. Topics include leadership, technology integration, special education, reading, assessment, and assistance with curriculum development as well as district-level strategic planning. Faculty regularly present at the Greenbush Service Center of Southeast Kansas and most departments host on-campus events for PK-12 students. One notable conference hosted annually by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction is for future educators from high schools throughout the area. Aside from the various civic, school and church related activities in which faculty are engaged, the community has come to expect volunteerism from faculty and rely on their professional expertise for many endeavors.
The faculty maintained memberships in a variety of professional organizations associated with areas of expertise. Leadership at the local, state, regional and national levels is evident through membership on executive and/or advisory boards, editorships, offices held, conferences planned, and papers presented. More than one department has been home to a national president, and there have been numerous district/regional and state presidents. Examples of professional service activities over the past three years at the state and national level are numerous as reflected in exhibit 5.4.
5e. Unit Evaluation of Professional Education Faculty Performance
The Unit conducts systematic and comprehensive evaluations in the three areas of faculty endeavor; teaching, scholarship, and service. These efforts serve to ensure the competence and intellectual vitality of faculty. Procedures involved in all aspects of faculty evaluation are detailed at length in the PSU/KNEA Contract. (pp. 4-11, 5.5a).
In an effort to promote continuous program improvement, faculty engage in a systematic review and analysis of program data, performance appraisals, student evaluations and student feedback. As a result of data analysis, faculty are able to identify strengths as well as those areas that need improvement.
The University also collects data on the effectiveness of program and career advisement offered by faculty. These data are collected via an on-line, eleven-item instrument which candidates complete prior to finalizing pre-enrollment. Faculty are provided summary reports that include responses from their advisees. (6.3d)
5f. Unit Facilitation of Professional Development
The unit demonstrates a commitment to the professional development of faculty; providing opportunities for professional growth is viewed as vital to the immediate and long-term success of the teacher education program. In order to assist faculty in meeting their needs, the COE departments provide a wide-array of opportunities as reflected in exhibit 5.7c.
The University also provides professional development opportunities for Unit faculty. All new faculty attend orientation sessions prior to the initial semester of employment and during their first year at PSU. Such topics include assessing student learning, using technology in the classroom, advising students, developing course syllabi, and preparing course materials. Also, the recently established Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology (CTL&T) provides professional development that enhances faculty teaching and student learning. CTL&T goals support the use of instructional technology and strive to build collaborative networks for teaching, scholarship and learning. A list of professional development utilized by faculty is found in exhibit 5.7b.
As part of the annual evaluation process, faculty members identify areas for professional growth and have the opportunity to receive training and support to develop skills related to these topics. Also, faculty members are encouraged to attend training sessions or conferences and can access funds to attend professional conferences. Departments provide financial assistance, and faculty in the unit receive $500.00 for out of state travel. Financial assistance may also be obtained from the Office of Academic Affairs if presenting at a professional conference. A list of faculty participation in professional development at the state and national levels is noted in exhibit 5.7a.
5.2 What are the most significant changes related to Standard 5 that have led to continuous improvement?
Several changes have led to continuous improvement in the quality of faculty, assessment of performance, and ongoing professional development. During the last team visit, the Unit was experiencing difficulty in replacing retiring faculty. Since that time, the Unit has been able to attract a number of outstanding new faculty. Three of those faculty members have completed their terminal degrees in the past four years and two more should be completed within the next year. Also, the Unit has been able to enhance the diversity of the faculty by hiring two African Americans; a reading methods teacher and a supervisor for the professional semester.
Over the past four years, the faculty evaluation process has been computerized which provides a much improved method for recording faculty goals and summative assessment. Additionally, a new evaluation process (ESPTE) has been implemented for use by candidates evaluating teaching effectiveness in laboratory and online courses. Also, a new process has been negotiated for those faculty seeking the designation of exceptional performance (pp. 7-8, 5.5a).
Two major changes highlight the university's commitment to teaching and ongoing professional development. The first of these is the addition of an instructional support consultant to assist staff in their instruction and the use of the tools available to them. The College of Education and the College of Business share a consultant. The second major change is the recently created Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. This is a university-wide center that organizes ongoing professional development for faculty and works with the instructional support consultants to identify needed training and technology.