Overview: The English Education Program Connected to The Conceptual Framework
The English Education track is one of two tracks that the Bachelor’s student in English may declare. The coursework in this program provides students with the opportunity to obtain a B.A. in English with a concentration in Secondary Education. At the end of this course of study, students are not only prepared to be knowledgeable practitioners of their content area—English and Language Arts—but may apply for and receive Secondary Education Certification as a result of knowledge gained in the classroom and from 900 hours of in-the-field training. Course objectives and activities relate to the descriptors of the Conceptual Framework in substantive ways.
Preparation for the English major begins in Area F of the core curriculum where 12 hours are dedicated to a combination of required 2000-level literary history and criticism courses, and six hours are dedicated to Foreign Language classes. In accordance with both the Conceptual Framework and the English department’s Mission Statement which values knowledge of and critical thinking in the content area and beyond, students in these classes are exposed to a diverse text, not only in genre and authorship but those that come from various cultures. They dialog with peers and professors in order to craft analytical arguments for verbal or written presentation. Such classes offer the burgeoning teacher-in-training methods of closely reading literature with an eye towards empathy and understanding of historically dominant and marginalized cultures.
After finishing Area F successfully, students complete 30 hours of Upper-Division English courses. In this track, several major courses dedicate themselves not only to literary history, writing, reading, theory, criticism, and critical thinking, but also include explicit pedagogy components in their learning outcomes. Such courses help English Education students gain knowledge in the multifaceted discipline of English Studies and to understand the myriad ways teachers can convey this knowledge. In the major, the pedagogy-specific courses include: Pedagogy and Writing (ENGL 3400), Young Adult Literature (ENGL 4295), and Advanced Grammar or the History of the English Language (ENGL 4300). In these courses, students practice effective lesson planning for a variety of secondary students, engage in collaborative work with classmates, and practice becoming proactive decision makers dedicated to developing a desire for lifelong learning in each other as well as in students, who will benefit from the Lesson Plans they deploy while out in the field. From time to time, other pedagogy-centered courses that serve English Education students are offered in the department as well.
Recently, some teacher-training programs reduced the aforementioned core Area F discipline-specific requirements to accommodate the Board of Regents’ mandates for new introductory Education courses. However, to serve beginning English teachers best and to bolster their ability to reach the multitude of English and Language Arts performance standards, the English Education major’s Area F courses remain discipline-centered. The English Education major, therefore, takes the mandated Education courses in a “minor” or concentration area, which is comprised of two tiers: introductory courses and the Professional Sequence. In the first tier, students acquire knowledge of broad-based educational theories delivered by experts in the field of Education and further their knowledge of diverse cultures connected to ethnicity, race, sexuality, gender, and even specific types of learners who will require empathy through differentiation in the classroom. Further, it is in this area that they begin to learn about and use various media and instructional technologies and to achieve mandates for special education instruction.
When students have successfully completed this first tier, they apply to the Teacher Education Program (TEP). Prerequisites for application include a 2.7 overall GPA and either an exemption or passing score on the GACE Basic Skills test. Once these requirements have been reached, students matriculate in the second tier, or the Professional Sequence. In this upper tier, students experience an advanced and focused iteration of the first and participate in 900 hours of Field Experience.
As of fall 2008, English Education students complete not only their Methods course in the English department but also experience their Internship and Practicum while working with English faculty in the English department. Such a shift allows for an advanced focus on effective, content-specific activities that bolster knowledge. In Methods ( ENGL 4238) and Internship ( ENGL 4286), English Education students must craft Unit and Lesson Plans that reference knowledge of content connected to specific Performance Standards in English and Language Arts. Both classes provide students with opportunities to collaborate with practitioners in the field of English both in the college classroom and out in the field, where they work with high school cooperating English teachers and are observed by English faculty who then write detailed Observation Narratives for them. Students in both classes must also attend post-observation conferences in which they engage in “teacherly talk” with their Observer(s) in an effort to develop abilities to interact with another teacher in a professional environment and to enrich their disposition towards becoming leaders and decision makers in their future classrooms. Along with Unit and lesson planning and Observation Events in the field, students complete case studies that engage their decision making and content-knowledge abilities, prepare resumes and cover letters that illustrate fitness for seeking employment, and craft an Effect on Instruction assignment that requires them to create, enact, and reflect upon an ongoing assignment or a specific Lesson Plan deployed during their fifteen-week Internship. Finally, each Intern writes a reflective and analytical introduction to a final, capstone portfolio in which they synthesize course material from Education and English Education major classes. Such assignments and collaborative approaches for Methods, Internship, and the correlating Observation Events enhance content knowledge and ensure that all students have multiple opportunities to acquire transferable pedagogical knowledge via analytical and reflective writing. In this Professional Sequence, students also have opportunities to theorize, utilize, and demonstrate using technology to convey knowledge of English and Language Arts. At the end of their course of study, successful students graduate with a B.A. in English and can apply for Secondary Certification.
From the core curriculum to Upper-Division courses in the English major to the two tiers in the Secondary Education concentration to the Field Experience, the English Education program at the University of West Georgia seeks to produce content-competent professionals ready to face multiple contingencies present in the high school English and Language Arts classroom and with parents, administrators, and colleagues.
Methods of evaluation in Area F, Upper-Division English Major courses—including pedagogy-centered courses—include opportunities to draft and revise, work shopping with peers, conferencing with professors, and objective testing. All classes include attention to writing analytically. The department uses a rubric for 2000-level classes and above (See Figure Three below), and professors utilize the language of the rubric during assessment. In pedagogy-centered classes in the English Education program, professors utilize the departmental rubric to teach and evaluate writing assignments and The Conceptual Framework, Attitudes for teacher education, the Teacher-Education Field Experience Evaluation form, and NCTE standards for Field Experience Observation Events and resulting Observation Narratives. Students upload major assignments to Foliotek for professor and/or Observer comment, and students self-align standards for each assignment and defend their choices in analytical and reflective writing.
Submitted by Angela Insenga, June 10, 2010