Academic Program Review of the
Undergraduate Physical Education Teacher Education Program
Prepared by the Academic Program Review Subcommittee:
The Physical Education Teacher Education (PETE) Program resides in Department of Exercise and Sport Science. Undergraduates enter the PETE program as Exercise and Sport Science majors with an emphasis in Physical Education Teacher Certification. In recent years the program has averaged about 325 majors, with about 67 students graduating per year.
The PETE program submitted its self-study report to the Dean’s office in the spring of 2006 and an external reviewer (Dr. Steve Mitchell) visited in April 2006.
SUMMARY OF THE SELF-STUDY:
Summary of program goals and objectives:
The PETE Program presents their goals and objectives in the context of mission statements of the School of Education and the PETE Program. More specific objectives of the School of Education “Conceptual Framework” and Wisconsin Teacher Education Standards are presented as objectives of the program. The most specific goals/objectives are outlined in the Wisconsin Teacher Education Standards, which are the standards set by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The ten standards expected of graduating students are:
1. Understands Content
2. Understands Development
3. Understands Difference
4. Designs Instructional Strategies
5. Manages and Motivates
7. Plans and Integrates
9. Reflects on Practice
10. Participates in the Professional Community
Summary of how the Program attempts to reach its goals and objectives and the extent to which those goals and objectives have been achieved:
The PETE Program has put serious effort into improving their training of physical education teachers to better meet their goals/objectives. This is impressive as the program already has an excellent reputation locally, regionally and nationally. The most prominent example of this effort to improve their training is the numerous curriculum changes have recently gone into effect. These changes were implemented in fall, 2006 in response to surveys of graduating students, societal changes, past accreditation reports, and faculty and cooperating teacher input. These changes included linking instructional methods courses to field experiences to better integrate the two. Also, courses and/or credits in elementary content, non-traditional activities and water safety were added while requirements in other areas lessened.
In addition to the curriculum changes, the PETE Program has also initiated other changes to improve the Program. A revised admission to the major process was implemented in the Fall of 2005. A developmental, electronic student portfolio to monitor student performance was established. Also, a revised Program evaluation procedure was developed.
NOTABLE STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THE PROGRAM:
The most important strength of the PETE Program is the specialization of the faculty. By being relatively large, the PETE program has been able to hire faculty with expertise in a wide array of specialized topics, allowing quality, expert instruction in a variety of classes.
The PETE Program has a specific mission statement but, as Dr. Mitchell notes, it is fairly general. Also, no program-specific objectives or goals are given other than the Teacher Education Standards set by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. The Program should consider developing a more specific mission statement and PETE-specific goals. Establishing such goals would also be a first step in implementing better assessment of student learning.
As noted above, the PETE Program has recently made significant curricular changes. The program should be commended for their efforts in this area. However, they need to continue to monitor the new curriculum to quickly address any issues that may arise as a result of the changes. This could be done by continuing their surveys of graduating students and cooperating teachers.
Another issue that the Program recognizes is that students, on average, take almost five years to graduate. This is largely due to there being three separate pre-student teaching clinical experiences, a one semester-long student teaching experience, and additional course work needed to meet the State of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction requirements. However, having too many majors and the resulting difficulty in placing those students in their pre-teaching clinical experiences contributes to the five-year-to-graduation average. The Program has taken steps to address this. The revised admission to the major process was instituted largely to help control the number of PETE majors. Additionally, following Dr. Mitchell’s suggestion of placing students in small groups, rather than individually, for the pre-teaching clinical experiences would reduce the number of placements that must be made. This could also improve learning by allowing the students increased feedback from peers. Also, prompt filling of vacant faculty positions (which has been an ongoing problem) is needed to maintain the quality of instruction and meet student demand. Without placing students in groups for their clinicals or filling faculty positions, enrollment in the major may need to be further restricted.
Assessment of Student Learning and Degree of Program Success:
The PETE Program has done a very good job of assessing Program success by keeping track of employment data and surveying graduating students, cooperating teachers, and school principals where first year students have been placed. By these criteria it appears that the program is graduating well-prepared beginning teachers. Furthermore, the Program is also to be commended in that they not only examined this information, but used it to institute numerous curriculum changes.
In contrast to their assessment of post-graduate success, the program has done little to directly monitor student performance relative to content knowledge. The department recognizes that this is an area that needs improvement but it is not among their top priorities. The Program notes that additional resources are needed to institute a systemic assessment program. The Deans of the College of Science and Health and Dr. Mitchell both stated that assessment of student learning needs to be a high priority. The Program and the SAH Deans need to work together to ensure that a systemic method for determining program effectiveness is established.
Previous Academic Program Review and New Program Initiatives
There has not been a previous review specific for the PETE Program. A review of the Department of Physical Education (now ESS) was done in 1994. Relatively little of this report dealt directly with the PETE Program. However, among the concerns was a lack of information regarding assessment. In the Department Response it was noted that they were in the process of putting together assessment procedures.
Nine faculty in ESS have a greater than 50% FTE appointment in the PETE program, while several others in ESS also contribute to teaching in the Program. There are also two K-12 physical education teachers from the La Crosse and Holmen school districts who assist in organizing the pre-student teaching clinical program.
The PETE Program self-study does not provide any details on the professional development/scholarship of their faculty, though it is noted that faculty regularly attend workshops and have presented at numerous meetings. As Dr. Mitchell notes, the “PETE faculty seem to be successful in the tenure and promotion process”, indicating evidence of strong scholarship since this is required for tenure. The lack of information regarding scholarship is due to the fact that the Program did not submit annual reports while part of the former College of Education, Exercise Science, Health and Recreation. This has changed now that the program resides in the College of Science and Health.
Support for Achieving Academic Program Goals (Resources):
The PETE program has good facilities for teaching, though there is a need for some specific equipment items. There is more concern that, with limited personnel, multiple sections of required courses cannot be offered. As noted previously, this results in a backlog of students trying to get in to their junior/senior level classes, thus extending the time till graduation. Prompt filling of vacant positions is critical for maintaining quality instruction and servicing the student demand that exists.
Comments on External Reviewer/Department Response/Dean’s letter:
Comments from the external reviewer, the department response and Dean’s letter have been included throughout this review.
Another area of concern, voiced in the Dean’s letter, is that the since the PETE Program resides in the College of Science and Health, while the School of Education (SOE) is in the College of Liberal Studies, connections between the PETE Program and SOE may be weak. The PETE Program recognizes this unusual situation and have proposed steps to strengthen communication with the SOE.
Some area to address – department should submit a short progress report to Faculty Senate/Provost’s Office in three years. This report should focus on progress toward improving assessment of student learning.
Summary of recommendations:
1. The Program and the SAH Deans need to work together to ensure that a systemic assessment method for determining student learning is established.
2. The Program should explore the possibility of grouping students during their pre-teaching clinicals.
3. Discussion is needed, within the Program and with the College Office, to find ways to more expeditiously fill faculty vacancies.
4. The Program should consider developing a more specific mission statement and PETE-specific goals.
5. The Program needs to continue strengthening connections with the School of Education.