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Bebas’ Research Finds WSU Teacher-Preparation Model Effective

May 27, 2016
By: Worcester State University News

Christina Bebas’ (Education) manuscript, “The Professional Development Schools Model, Self-Efficacy, Teacher Efficacy, and It’s Impact on Beginning Teacher Persistence,” was accepted to the journal School-University Partnerships and will appear in the November issue. The manuscript highlights the results of a larger study that investigated the elements of the professional development schools (PDS) model used at Worcester State University to consider its effect on beginning teacher persistence/retention.

The goal of the study was to explore the individual elements of the PDS program at WSU and determine the extent to which the elements contribute to the retention of recent graduates of WSU’s elementary education program in the teaching profession. Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected and analyzed using surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

Worcester State’s teacher preparation program adopted a PDS model starting in 1995, partnering with just one elementary school. The education program now partners with seven elementary schools.

A PDS model requires that a teacher-preparation program partners with schools in order to benefit the future teachers in the teacher-preparation program, the young students at the partner school(s), the teachers in the partner schools, and the professors at the teacher preparation program. Some of the elements of this program that were explored through this research were pre-practicum fieldwork, methods courses that are held at the professional development schools, student-teaching at a PDS, the student-teaching seminar, Friday “rounds” held at the PDS (similar to rounds doctors do in their residency), and the clinical professor.

The clinical professor is a position held by a teacher from one of the PDSs. This teacher takes a sabbatical of sorts from their classroom teaching position to fulfill the duties of the clinical professor. This person has many responsibilities, including acting as a liaison between the WSU Education Department and the various PDSs, monitoring the pre-practicum placements of students at the PDSs, supervising student-teachers at the PDSs, conducting a student-teaching seminar once a week, and organizing Friday “rounds” workshops.

The results of the study indicated that graduates of the WSU elementary education program have high levels of teacher efficacy and self-efficacy that lead about 65 percent of the graduates to persist in the teaching profession. It was found that even the graduates who were not teaching were highly confident in their teaching abilities and felt that they would still pursue the teaching profession. So, although about 35 percent of WSU graduates were not teaching when surveyed, they still considered it a viable option for the future. Most were not teaching due to factors unrelated to teacher preparation, such as starting a family or job searching.

The graduates who were interviewed and participated in focus groups indicated that the elements of the PDS program contributed to their self-efficacy and teacher efficacy and also to their ability to persist in the teaching profession. According to graduates of the WSU elementary education program, the PDS model and its elements increased their self-efficacy and teacher efficacy due to the familiarity and comfort they felt in the PDSs; the support they felt while training within the PDS; the collaboration between them, their classmates, and the school community; and feeling valued as a teacher while training within the PDS.

The participants in the study then attributed their ability to persist in the teaching profession with increases in teacher efficacy and self-efficacy they experienced while training to be teachers through the PDS model at Worcester State. They claimed to feel prepared, confident, and supported when they graduated from WSU, and that led them to be able to persist in the teaching profession during the beginning of their teaching careers.

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