The teacher education program represents a performance-based model in which field experiences are associated with the attendant coursework. There are two types of field assignments: embedded and assigned. Courses with a theoretical base have an embedded field work component. Other courses include assignments that require the application of theory to practice.
Candidates will engage with students in a variety of learning environments that have been pre-screened by course instructors. Criteria for the selection of sites include diversity of student population, inclusiveness of setting, accreditation by the state, implementation of best-practice strategies and thematic instruction, qualifications and the willingness of program administrators and teachers to mentor candidates and work with course instructors. As candidates progress in their respective programs of study, the qualifications of site personnel (teachers and/or program administrators) become more rigorous.
The first field experiences usually involve general principles related to diversity, development, and learning. Candidates observe classrooms and programs that represent a wide range of age levels and settings, reflect upon their experiences, and refine or - in many cases - redefine their interests in teaching.
As candidates progress to the next level of their program, field experiences focus primarily on observing best practice, planning for and delivering instruction to individuals, assessing results of that instruction, and reflecting on their effectiveness. Candidates' experiences increasingly involve learning settings that are more specific to their area of certification, and assignments are designed to support candidate’s development of skills related to differentiation of instruction and meeting the needs of diverse learners. Candidates are required to have at least 180 hours of field experiences before they are allowed to enter the clinical experience (student teaching or capstone internship).
E-Portfolio System: Live Text
Throughout the program, candidates record site and grade level placements of field experiences. Each semester students are required to submit a field experience documentation form electronically to the Assessment Coordinator. Candidates' field experience records may be reviewed by program faculty to ensure that they are developing a balanced set of field experiences that includes significant work with all age levels and in a variety of program settings.
Candidates are responsible for recording, and keeping track of, their field experiences. In some instances, such as those related to secondary certification, the coursework alone does not provide enough assignments for the candidate to achieve the 180 hours that must be fulfilled before entering the clinical experience. In such instances, the candidates themselves must seek out field experience opportunities.