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Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education
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Revised format past questions
This page collates the questions asked in previous iterations of the revised format exam
Much attention in elementary teacher education has been given to the idea of “high-leverage” or “generative” practices (See, e.g., Ball, Sleep, Boerst & Bass, 2009 and Jansen, Bartell, & Berk, 2009). While the general idea of identifying these practices and then supporting pre-service teachers in developing the practices has gained significant support in recent years, there are many unanswered questions, for example universality: can a discrete list of practices work in every school, in every (inter-)national context, with every teacher, with every group of students. Or, is there indeed a set of pedagogical practices that constitute “good teaching” no matter the context? Summarize the existing research base supporting the both the concept of high-leverage practices and the identification of particular practices. Using this summary, identify gaps in the research and describe a research study that might address some of these gaps. Finally, if we assume that both the concept and the particular identified practices have promise for teacher education, what would a teacher education program built around these ideas look like? (Note: you do not need to frame your response around universality - it is only offered as an example to clarify the question and show the potential relevance of international contexts in framing your answer.)
Ball, D.L., Sleep, L., Boerst, T.A. & Bass, H. (2009). Combining the development of practice and the practice of development in teacher education. The Elementary School Journal 109(5): 458-474.
Jansen, A., Bartell, T. & Berk, D. (2009). The role of learning goals in building a knowledge base for elementary mathematics teacher education. The Elementary School Journal 109(5): 525-536.
Discuss one text or one scholar (whether in the academy or a “public intellectual”) that/who has had the most negative impact on education. In forming your essay, address the following prompts:
what are the ideas in the text or in the scholar’s work that are so detrimental and why;
what have been the specific consequence(s) of those ideas for the practice of public schooling;
why have those ideas been so widely accepted if, in your opinion, they are so negative or detrimental? (In other words, this question is not asking you to “soapbox” for 3000 words about why this text or scholar is so negative, but asks you as well to consider why others find these ideas so positive.)
what sort of evidence either exists or needs to be created (through empirical study, conceptual argumentation, etc.) in order to counter these ideas?
The text or the scholar you choose may address the US, an international context or both.
A recent article in the New York Times (Lewin, 2012; link to article provided below) reported that, “Black students, especially boys, face much harsher discipline in public schools than other students.” Drawing on findings from the U.S Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection of 72,000 schools, the article reported the following:
“One in five black boys and more than one in 10 black girls received an out-of-school suspension. Overall, black students were three and a half times as likely to be suspended or expelled than their white peers. And in districts that reported expulsions under zero-tolerance policies, Hispanic and black students represent 45 percent of the student body, but 56 percent of those expelled under such policies. According to the schools’ reports, over 70 percent of the students involved in school-related arrests or referred to law enforcement were Hispanic or black. Black and Hispanic students — particularly those with disabilities — are also disproportionately subject to seclusion or restraints. Students with disabilities make up 12 percent of the student body, but 70 percent of those subject to physical restraints. Black students with disabilities constituted 21 percent of the total, but 44 percent of those with disabilities subject to mechanical restraints, like being strapped down. And while Hispanics made up 21 percent of the students without disabilities, they accounted for 42 percent of those without disabilities who were placed in seclusion.”
Which research bases in educational studies (or perhaps from another wing of the academy) do you think are most helpful for understanding this phenomenon and for intervening to change it? Write an essay in which you (1) synthesize key texts from this research base, (2) identify key intellectual contributions this research base has made to understand this climate of discipline and its effects on students (3) identify strategies and/or debates about strategies for intervening to change this phenomenon; and (4) identify gaps in research and/or practice for addressing this phenomenon.
David Labaree notes that the American public holds three aims for public education – social mobility, social efficiency, and democratic citizenship. Yet, he goes on to argue that these aims also stand in tension with each other; that is, pursuing any one in particular can compromise the achievement of the others. If you had the opportunity to create your own school or school system, which one or two of these aims would you prioritize? Explain why you prioritize the aims you do, and how or why they may work together. Describe your approach to planning this new school with regard to one or two of the following: curriculum, classroom management, grading, administration and/or ability grouping. Justify your plan and describe its implications for the society in which it is situated. What challenges might you anticipate to actualizing your plan? What social and individual benefits might result?
Recent research in teacher education has a renewed emphasis on developing "the knowledge base in teacher education while strengthening the connections among research, practice, and policy" (Knight et al, 2012, p. 85). A key part of this renewed emphasis is a focus on teaching, rather than on teachers. In other words, it has been argued that to foster integral connections between a knowledge base, teacher practice, and policy, more attention should be paid to "improving instructional methods by using knowledge products (annotated lesson plans or common assessments)" rather than on "improving the quality of the teacher" (Knight et al, p. 85). Take a stance on this position and defend it using your knowledge of teaching and teacher education. Be sure to explain the context of your stance (i.e., US or an international context, etc.)
Knight, S. (2012). Adding to the knowledge base. Journal of Teacher Education, March/April 2012 vol. 63 no. 2 85-86. doi: 10.1177/0022487112438180
Drawing on examples from your own subject area or research specialization, how do you conceptualize quality (or rigor) in educational research? What are the "touchstones" (or criteria or standards) by which you judge quality or rigor in educational research? Share and discuss three key readings (e.g. books, articles) that most influenced your ideas about quality in educational research? Throughout your essay, be sure to elaborate on the touchstones by describing them and offering examples (in the context of a single study, a set of studies, and/or a community of researchers in dialogue). Where do you see challenges to your perspective in the perspectives of others in the educational community? How, if at all, might your perspective evolve to respond to those challenges? Given your responses, how might diversity of perspectives in the field of educational research be honored?
At a parent teacher conference a 3rd grade teacher was heard telling a parent, “Whether we like it or not we are a data-driven district. We have to teach mathematics one hour a day, and literacy for 1.5 hours and that does not even include writing. I have to try to squish in what used to be 3 hours a week of science and social studies into only 90 minutes. At least we’re still allowed to teach science and social studies.” What are the core debates and dilemmas in education today that are embedded in what this teacher said? What are the historical roots of these dilemmas and concerns? Should these ideas be addressed in teacher education? If so, how? What role do parents play in these dilemmas? What role should they play?
In A Chance to Learn, Meyer Weinberg (1977) writes:
"Since its earliest beginnings, the American public school system has been deeply committed to the maintenance of racial and ethnic barriers...Philosophers of the common schools remained silent about the education of minority children. The most devout defenders of the common school from Horace Mann to John Dewey held their tongues when the subject of minority--especially black--children became a public issue. Exceptions were few, and the comfort they afforded minority children slight...But nearly all this has escaped notice in the standard histories of the United States and American education. Unfortunately, scholarly research sometimes bears the same relationship to truth as staring does to sight. All the mental equipment is at hand, but nothing much registers. The eyes may as well be closed." (p. 1)
Thirty-five years have passed since Weinberg made this claim. To what extent do you think his argument still holds today (assuming it was accurate then)? That is, to what extent is educational research still blind to the educational experiences, in either historical or contemporary settings, of minoritized racial, ethnic or linguistic groups?
In forming your response, consider:
a. How, if at all, has our understanding of the history of the education of minoritized racial, ethnic or linguistic groups changed since Weinberg's claim?
b. What other feature(s) of the history of schooling in the United States still hasn't "registered" in the literature? Provide concrete evidence and examples to open our eyes as to why it should.
To be clear: this question is not asking you to re-narrate the history of the education of minoritized racial, ethnic or linguistic groups. Rather, this question asks you to comment on the state of educational research on such issues.
In what ways has globalization impacted teaching and/or teacher education? Around which aspects of this impact is there consensus in the research and policy literature? Around which aspects of this impact is there no consensus, or even heated debate? Which theoretical stances on globalization do you think are most useful to teacher educators, policy makers or practitioners for developing effective teaching practices in response to globalization?
How one views the realities of globalization is impacted by stance (geographic, theoretical locations, etc.). Therefore, be sure to identify your own stance in this essay.
In response to the Chicago Teachers’ Union strike over (among other things) proposed teacher evaluation systems relying largely on standardized test results, former Washington, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty commented on NPR that, “The only objective thing that you can look to in evaluating whether a student is performing in a classroom is tests. And why the teachers unions. . . and everybody else wants to run away from objective criteria -- the only thing that I can pull away from it is, that they don’t want to be held accountable.” Please take a stance on the issue of teacher evaluation reforms currently being proposed at the state and national levels. What are the advantages and disadvantages to making standardized test scores a major part of a teacher’s evaluation? What sort of additional evidence is or should be required to assess teaching? To be clear: this question is not asking you to take a position on the current strike, but rather to use relevant literature to argue the case for reasonable and meaningful teacher evaluation practices and protocols.
In his recent book, Someone Has to Fail, David Labaree argues that the U.S. educational system is highly resilient and reluctant to change, and thus, that reformers who have ambitious plans to radically overhaul the system are doomed to fail. At the same time, he argues that reformers who scale back their ambitions, are realistic, and support incremental change, will never breed confidence nor garner much political or public support for their reforms. Select an educational reform (in the U.S. or elsewhere) that you think has been successful. Describe the accomplishments of the reform, provide evidence for its success, and explain why it has succeeded. Then, explain how your analysis either refutes or supports Labaree’s claims that reformers who think big are doomed to fail, but that reformers who have modest aims, will not garner support. Note: you do not need to have read Labaree’s book to answer this question; just consider his claims, as described above.
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