In order to address these needs, the faculty worked as a team and researched current best practices in the field, said Dr. Bob Ackland, program area coordinator. This research was boiled down into a list of themes upon which all of their activities were to be based.
These themes promote the knowledge of content, learning environments and technology; the knowledge of the art and science behind teaching with an emphasis on assessment, critical thinking, problem solving and recursive learning; and the adaptation of professional skills such as collaboration, modeling and honoring multiculturalism and diversity.
Once the themes were agreed upon, faculty members worked together to develop systems to monitor the effectiveness of their instruction - something they are also asking their students to do in their own teaching. Now, as faculty members teach, they are continuously assessing what is working and what is not and making improvements.
Faculty members are checking to see if their students feel they are part of a learning community. They are also doing research to determine the impact these feelings might have on student performance. Furthermore, they are exploring the impact of early field placements; the amount of time faculty members spend at area schools; and whether or not program graduates are applying what they've learned in terms of best practices.
According to Hill, faculty members are not only proud of the accreditation, they are proud of the work they are doing.
"This research has invigorated the faculty," said Dr. Heidi Schnackenberg, a program area coordinators in the teacher education unit.
Dr. Denise Simard, a fellow program coordinator, agreed. "I do feel there is a genuine passion about this inquiry approach to the teaching and learning process."