Sunday, December 13, 2009

Initial Thoughts on UTeach PBI Field Modifications

Both of these attachments are taken from the UTeach Institute's Curriculum document.

1) The first indicates my conjecture that PBI is the capstone course in the professional development sequence. Maybe people were speaking about AT as a capstone for the entire program? I'm not sure.

2) The second item is the total FE hours that PBI students do for the course compared to other courses in the professional sequence. I spoke with many of the Local School teachers recently and they were uniform in their agreement that the field experiences in PBI were memorable and important...but they did not have much to do with PBI.

By the SPG 2011 semester, PBI's FE will be in in synch with the other CoE courses. Roughly, they seem to average a little less than 2 FE hrs per course credit. I will shoot for PBI to be in the range of 6-8 hrs (well over 2 FE's per course credit). As things stand now, PBI has 3X more FE hrs than CI, and 4X more than the Step courses. This is clearly referenced in the description of PBI above, "immersion in intensive field-based experiences"-- We are trying to keep the concepts of "immersion" and "intensive" still in PBI, but they will be defined not by quantity but by quality. In the long run, this course will be better for the UTeach students we teach as it will reflect better what PBI is and is not. PBI is not a field based course. I think it's time we bring it more in line with the other CoE courses in terms of the proportion of hrs dedicated to an integration of theory and practice *ABOUT* PBI.

I'm more confident than ever that by the end of the next 12 months (SPG 2011), PBI will become a course that multiple STEM professors will be able to teach. But, a reduction in quantity, not quality, of FE hours is very likely going to become a reality.

To be clear, the field experiences students receive during PBI are clearly important, memorable, and worthwhile. They just don't belong in PBI. They belong in a course called something like "Conducting Field Based Teaching in STEM Education". In order for me and the team associated with PBI to make the modifications needed, less time is going to have to be dedicated to FE. Not surprisingly, students rate the field experiences as a highlight (even this past semester). I hope the UTeach program can keep this important aspect of the program intact. This really needs to be addressed at the program level and with the Steering Committee and I imagine other courses will need to pick up some of the lost PBI FE hours (K&L is currently listed have having none) or we'll officially have to reduce this number we claim. I think with almost a year to plan, something can be worked out. I will formally bring this up at the first or second SPG meeting of the Steering Committee.

3) As an aside, when asked, the local Teachers said that Research Methods class (while excellent and important) did not prepare them to teach using project based instruction. They may have been referring to an older version of RM but their response was very uniform. I'm in contact with another researcher and plan on talking to her about her monograph...

4) I'm in the process of preparing a document that will summarize much of the 3 meetings I had this week about PBI---but, I wanted to give a little heads-up on these three issues as I will not emphasize them too much in the report but wanted the two co-directors to have as much lead time on this as possible.

5) I'll be meeting with members of the PBI team next week as we push forward.... I will also be bringing in some STEM faculty and other people in as the process progresses next semester.

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