Master of Arts in Teaching/Science Education Master of Arts in Teaching/Mathematics Education

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1 Master of Arts in Teaching/Science Education Master of Arts in Teaching/Mathematics Education Assessment F12-S13 FOR ACADEMIC YEAR: PROGRAM: MAT/Science and Mathematics Education SCHOOL: NS&M SUBMISSION DATE: Nov. 20, 2013 OVERVIEW University Mission: The University of Texas at Dallas provides the State of Texas and the nation with excellent, innovative education and research. The University is committed to graduating well-rounded citizens whose education has prepared them for rewarding lives and productive careers in a constantly changing world; to continually improving educational and research programs in the arts and sciences, engineering, and management; and to assisting the commercialization of intellectual capital generated by students, staff, and faculty. Program Mission: The Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in Science Education Program and the M.A.T. in Mathematics Program provide enhanced science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) content knowledge as well as pedagogical content knowledge and/or research skills for teachers. Because many graduates of these M.A.T. programs will rise to leadership positions such as department head or science/mathematics coordinator, the core courses provide fundamental skills in cognition, education research, and assessment so that M.A.T. graduates can evaluate educational strategies and thoughtfully advise their colleagues about them. M.A.T. Enrollment: M.A.T. enrollment remains level in an era when school district support and external funding for teachers to earn advanced degrees is increasingly scarce. There are 44 M.A.T. students this semester (F13). Eight are graduating, and there are six strong candidates for admission in the spring. Thus, we expect to have 42 M.A.T. students for S14. The department remains committed to this area of critical need for teachers in terms of skills and content knowledge despite the decline in publically funded teacher incentives. Revision: In the early months of 2013, the SME faculty began to focus on the four core courses SMED 5301, SMED 5302, SMED 5303, and SMED Initially the thrust was to revise the syllabi modestly so that the transition of students from one course to the next would be smoother. As the discussions continued, the focus shifted to substantial revision of the catalog descriptions, with the concomitant creation of substantially revised catalog descriptions and syllabi. SMED 5303 and SMED 5304 are of particular concern, and the discussions raised the possibility of restructuring these courses to provide MAT students with substantial exposure to educational research methods (SMED 5303) and science/mathematics research methods (SMED 5304). Initial revision has been accomplished, and assessment procedures are currently (F13) being discussed. First assessments for the new courses will be on hand during the S14 semester. CORE CURRICULUM MODIFICATION AND IMPLIMENTATION PROGRAM IMPROVEMENT: A committee of Drs. Urquhart, Melton, Montgomery, and Ms. Curry rewrote the core course curriculum over the course of several meetings during the spring of The overall motivation for changes in the MAT core curriculum is the goal of the faculty to strive for continuous improvement. Specifically, changes in the core curriculum were motivated by an increasing awareness on of the SME faculty that students needed a greater emphasis on education theory, evaluating research and curriculum changes in the context of their own teaching and administrative roles in K-12 science and mathematics education and a greater understanding of the role of science and mathematics in society and skills needed by scientists and 1

2 mathematicians in the workforce. This awareness was partially based on comparison with similar graduate programs in a survey conducted by the faculty and by our experiences in preparing new science and mathematics teachers through UTeach replication. The introductory survey course was introduced based on student feedback and the strong encouragement of the SME graduate advisor that students needed more guidance in understanding the university, their degree programs, and the faculty of SME. The faculty determined that both mathematics and science MAT students would benefit from a common core and that interactions between the two populations of predominately in-service would likely also strengthen integration of mathematics and science in the classrooms of participating students. Major revisions and reasons for these changes are as follows: Reasons for the core sequence change: 1. Extensive discussions with students and the results of a survey of students conducted in the spring of 2013 by the faculty drove the modifications. Students clearly desired change. Among other issues, students through that the previous course sequence did not progress as an integrated education experience. 2. SMED 5302 was added because there was no course on pedagogy, a problem recognized by the current faculty. 3. The previous SMED sequence had been designed as a platform for future thesis work. This was not productive because many MAT students do not pursue the thesis option. Even for those that did choose to conduct a thesis, it was apparent to the present faculty that many students were spending two semesters conducting surveys and then graduating without an appreciation for action research and a with a nearly complete lack of experience in scientific and mathematics research. Core sequence changes: 1. The SMED sequence was reengineered as two independent courses. The modification objective for SMED 5303 was based on providing teachers with the experience and skills to conduct research in their classrooms focused on best teaching practice. This classroom research is action research, a process by which teachers can test their ideas about pedagogy. Many area administrators support this sort of research in their schools. The second major reason for splitting and reworking the sequence was to modify SMED 5304 into a graduate version of the UTeach course, Research Methods. In this course, teachers now conduct authentic research in science and mathematics. Based on the UTeach model, teachers pose scientific questions, create experiments, read scientific literature, use probes, experience statistics, create mathematical models, write, review, and present research papers. 2. Additionally, SMED 5100, the Introductory Graduate Seminar was designed to give students an introduction to the University, and to the systems with which the will be working and to the services that they can utilize. 3. Finally, the Math MAT was modified to include the core courses so that students would experience pedagogy. RESULTS (NEW CORE COURSE CURRICULUM) The revised core course curriculum is composed to the following courses. The modifications are minor (SMED 5301) to major (SMED 5303 and 5304). SMED 5301 Science, Mathematics, and Society (3 semester hours) An exploration of the state of the world as informed by STEM issues in society. Students make connections to global STEM issues as they study the importance of citizen involvement in the learning and teaching of science and mathematics. Topics include current research into sustainability, development, climate change, security, resources, and innovation. (3-0) Y SMED 5302 Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics (3 semester hours) Includes the history of science and mathematics education with emphasis on the continuing struggle to improve classroom practice. Learning theories are explored with a focus on cognitive studies and application in the classroom. The importance of learning environments, problem solving and assessment strategies are also emphasized. Teaching strategies and the research behind those strategies will be evaluated. (3-0) Y 2

3 SMED 5303 Introduction to Research and Evaluation in Science and Mathematics Education (3 semester credit hours) Expansion of students' knowledge and application of STEM education research including research approaches to evaluation of curricula and student achievement. Focus on designing research questions concerning current understanding in science and mathematics education and questions for future investigations. For the major project, students explore the appropriateness of action research in answering practical questions. Prerequisite: SMED (3-0) Y SMED 5304 Research Methods in Science and Mathematics (3 semester credit hours) Open-ended, inquiry projects grounded in critical and logical thinking that involve observations, research, investigation planning, data collection with instruments or surveys, analysis and interpretation of data, proposing explanations, considering alternatives, generating predictions, and conveying results in student peer-reviewed papers and presentations appropriate for a professional forum. Students conduct open-ended research into subjects of their choosing. Students develop and pursue inquiries based on original ideas, literature research, discussions with experts, and via trial and error. Recommended: SMED (3-0) Y INITIAL FINDINGS A. Successes Early informal evaluation of the core courses SMED 5301, 5302, and 5304 are that the new sequence will function well. Instructors are linking elements between courses. Interviews indicate acceptable to good levels of student satisfaction with the modifications. The new SMED 5301 Science, Mathematics, and Society was offered in an experimental mode for the first time in Summer The instructor, Dr. Homer Montgomery, explicitly tried to require both scientific and mathematical approaches to the material. Course reviews were good. We expect the course to stabilize at this point, and the first formal assessment will be completed. The revised version of SMED 5304 Research Methods in Science and Mathematics previewed in the spring of 2013, and sustained good reviews. Modifications based on discussions with students will be enacted for the spring of One change will be to assess the Peachkucha presentation format, a methodology that has been highly successful in the UTeach course Research Methods. We expect the course to stabilize at this point, and the first formal assessment will be completed. B. Problem areas In the initial design of the revised MAT programs, SMED 5302, SMED 5303, and SMED 5304 were seen as an integrated, sequential set of courses. SMED 5302 was to be offered in the Spring semester and SMED 5303 and SMED 5304 were to be offered as a Fall-Spring sequence. The result was that SMED 5303, the course that is to provide the foundation for understanding how to carry out research (and prepare a thesis), was not available to research/thesis track students until their second year. They needed to take it in their first year. The program modification required is described in the Continuing Progress section. SMED 5303 was offered for the first time in Fall 2012, and it was a disaster. The instructor, who had been part of the program revision process, did not adhere to the objectives, did not consult other faculty, missed/cancelled a third of the weekly sessions, did not respond to student s, and drew the intense ire of the class. This instructor will not be part of the teaching of the core courses in the future. SMED 5303 (Fall of 2013) is not running as hoped as indicated by problematic midterm survey results. One of the major issues has to do with the extraordinary amount of time required for IRB approval of projects dealing with human subjects. Our adjunct instructor for the course is from the University of North Texas, and she would like to enact an expedited review process developed and approved there. Drs. Urquhart and Montgomery will propose that UTD consider a version of the UNT expedited approval plan. SMED 5304 was offered for the first time in Spring The student reviews, including direct interviews with the class, were mixed. Without doubt, part of the difficulties for this course was the anger and lack of preparation of the 3

4 cadre of students who moved from SMED 5303 to SMED SMED 5304 was much more successful in the opinion of the professor and in the reviews of the students. C. Continuing Progress In April 2012, the SME faculty modified the suggested course sequence for research/thesis track students so that they now take the SMED 5303/SMED 5304 sequence in their first year (assuming that they begin the program in the summer or Fall semester). In doing so, it was necessary to allow these students to take SMED 5302 after SMED 5303, i.e., the tightly coupled sequence had to be modified. In June 2012, Professor Lynn Melton, the SME Department Associate Head for Graduate Studies, met with the instructors of SMED 5302 and the newly-named instructor of the Fall 2012 offering of SMED The intent was to develop sufficient coordination of the course so that students in SMED 5303 some of whom will have had SMED 5302 and some of whom will have not can succeed in SMED A likely approach is to prepare a reading list of key articles for students who have not had SMED One result of this meeting was that the SMED 5302 instructor stated that it was likely that 50% of the SMED 5302 syllabus would change for the Spring 2013 offering. It is likely that a second coordination meeting will occur in early January 2013, before the start of classes. In early November 2012, the SMED Faculty voted on a comprehensive set of procedures and policies to guide both research/thesis track students and SME faculty in the selection of thesis advisors, the appointment of thesis committees, the responsibilities of thesis committees, and the conduct of thesis defenses. These procedures and policies will lessen the recurrence of some minor problems and should prevent major problems. D. Closing the Loop The document Academic Program Assessment Form provides guidance for ways that degree programs can show that they are closing the loop, i.e., continually evaluating the performance of an academic program on the basis of stated program objectives, and making appropriate changes. The Science/Mathematics Department is comfortable with closing the loop, but the recently revised MAT/Science Education and MAT/Mathematics Education have not yet stabilized, and the format suggested in the document Academic Program Assessment Form does not seem appropriate at this time. We expect that our ongoing efforts for continual improvement by closing the loop will be successful. We look forward to achieving the stability that will allow more routine assessments. INITIAL ASSESSMENT OF FIRST CLASSES OF SMED 5301 AND 5304 (The previous M.A.T. plan did not address the assessment needs of the new M.A.T. core sequence.) Reports on SMED 5301 and 5304 are the first efforts for new courses, and will be modified to be in compliance with procedures for the entire SMED core sequence during S14. SMED 5301 Science, Mathematics, and Society (text: Worldwatch Institute State of the World 2013) For each of the assignment prompts, students were asked to: A. Appraise and evaluate perceived solutions related to the various issues in terms of validity/invalidity economic and political, social and moral, and technological and scientific accuracy.4 B. Judge/formulate/develop plans of action to address (in an appropriate format) critical topics related to subject of discussion. C. Select/compare/contrast each of the critical issues, and relate to other areas of interest within and beyond the purview of your teaching responsibilities. D. Compose valid arguments related to these critical issues, and relate them in varied evaluative formats. 1. Demonstrate STEM content in student s teaching area from a solid STEM content base. 4

5 Assessment method: Rubric driven evaluation of the responses to the prompt: Identify and explore two aspects of the reading that you do not understand. You may choose more if you feel so compelled. Prioritize these aspects. Analysis of results: 19 students satisfied the criteria, two did not Influencing factors: Grades were assigned based on written assignments in response to prompts. How results will be factored into improvement: Assignment prompts will be separated, and responses to each will be required. Data analysis will, thus, improve. Additional comments: Methodology will likely change as the online process is refined. The goal for this first effort was largely to test student familiarity with the process. 2. Enhance integration of science and mathematics instruction as complementary skills. Assessment method: Rubric driven evaluation of required weekly online discussions. Analysis of results: 19 students satisfied the criteria, two did not Influencing factors: Grades were assigned based on weekly written assignments in response to prompts. How results will be factored into improvement: Forums for off-topic and for teaching advice related discussions will be expanded or created. Otherwise, participation is good. Additional comments: none 3. Evaluate published research in science/mathematics education in terms of its utility in the classroom. Assessment method: Rubric driven evaluation of the responses to the prompt: Name and explain the three most important aspects of the assigned reading. Prioritize and justify your choices. Analysis of results: 19 students satisfied the criteria, two did not Influencing factors: Grades were assigned based on online written assignments in response to prompts. The instructor took care to regularly remind the students to also extend their responses to how they might address these aspects in their classrooms. How results will be factored into improvement: A prompt will be added to permit separate evaluation of and response to the extension to the classroom component. Additional comments: Extension to the classroom is vital when working with teachers. Other methodology to enhance and evaluate this component will be forthcoming. SMED 5304 Research Methods in Science and Mathematics 5

6 1. Demonstrate STEM content in student s teaching area from a solid STEM content base. Assessment method: Rubric driven evaluation of the requirement to produce a Problem based Learning teaching unit. Additional prompts were: Your PBL project should be designed to be used in your classroom. You will that find your experience with PBL in SMED 5301 will be helpful for this project. Substantial documentation and several how-to guides and examples are provided on elearning. Your PBL project should have an action research component stemming from your experience in SMED Analysis of results: thirteen of 14 students scored better than 80% with a range of 25/30 to 30/30. The one other student missed several classes due to a life-threatening illness. An alternative assignment was created. That student was successful in achieving a score of 80%. Influencing factors: Grades were assigned based on an extensive written assignment with an in-class presentation. Each student required a great deal of advice based for individual projects because of a general unfamiliarity with the mechanics of this new teaching strategy. How results will be factored into improvement: More examples are being incorporated. A teaching assistant with experience in PBL will be available to help. Additional comments: PBL is a definite emerging teaching methodology with many leading schools incorporating the techniques. We intend to continue this time-intensive process. 2. Enhance integration of science and mathematics instruction as complementary skills. Assessment method: Rubric driven evaluation of the requirement to create two scientific and/or mathematics inquiries focused on a teacher area of expertise (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc.) that provide insight into one s potential for impacting education as a researcher. Analysis of results: Thirteen of 14 students exceeded 80%. One did not scoring 30/40. Influencing factors: Grades were assigned based on written assignments in response to prompts. It became clear to the instructor that individual teacher experience with generating their own research questions, conducting that research, and producing an acceptable report is generally at a low level. The scores were as high as they were because of extensive edits and advice by the instructor. Some projects required five or more edits. The process was incredibly time-intensive. How results will be factored into improvement: Many more examples will be incorporated. A TA will be asked to assist. An advice forum on elearning will be implemented. Additional comments: We do not intend to abandon this methodology. The instructor of 5304 must realize how much time must be dedicated to this course each year. 3. Evaluate published research in science/mathematics education in terms of its utility in the classroom. Assessment method: Rubric driven evaluation of discussion board posts that require peer-reviewed links for all statements that are not common knowledge. Additional prompts were: How is metacognition implemented in the classrooms of the best teachers? (This will include implementation of wrappers.) How can and why is it that experience with inquiries in science and/or mathematics help us to become better teachers? How does the way we perceive, conduct, and present research shape what and how we communicate to our students? You will draw on your experience from SMED 5302 and SMED

7 Analysis of results: All students achieved greater than 80% on work during the 15 weeks of posting on the elearning discussion boards. Influencing factors: Grades were assigned based on posts in response to prompts. How results will be factored into improvement: The posting process worked rather well. During the next iteration of 5304, students will be required to cite peer-reviewed sources for each statement that is not common knowledge. Additional comments: The discussions were, on the whole, quite good. Students clearly spent time with this process that contributes to producing an online community of learners. RECOMMENDATIONS Several areas of review and improvement are being considered, and implemented. Further discussion of these actions is presented in the SMED assessment plan for F13-S14. SIGNATURES: FINAL DATES: Approval Program Assessment Lead Assessment/Provost Office Implementation 7

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