The University Record, May 20, 2002

U-M–Dearborn School of Ed programs unveiled for regents

By Terry Gallagher

Three innovative programs under way at the U-M–Dearborn School of Education were discussed at the regents meeting on the Dearborn campus last week.

John Poster, dean of the Dearborn campus’ School of Education, outlined enrollment growth in a master’s degree program aimed at “career changers” who hope to become high school teachers. Since the program was launched last fall, it has enrolled 94 students.

“The master of arts in teaching degree program was developed to help southeast Michigan school districts, which are experiencing a shortage of qualified teachers, particularly at the secondary school level,” Poster said. “Our program can help deal with the shortage because people who are career changers can keep their current jobs while completing the requirements for teacher certification, since we offer the courses in the evenings and on weekends.”

Another project at the Dearborn School of Education has received a federal grant of $363,000 from the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education to help future science teachers integrate major concepts and “action research” into their classrooms. Gail Luera, assistant professor of science education, described the program that focuses on “big ideas” in science, such as energy and “scale and structure,” and how they are presented in different scientific disciplines.

Working with current teachers in actual classrooms, U-M–Dearborn students will assess what elementary students know about a “big idea” in science, identify some of their misconceptions, develop plans to lead students to the correct concepts and assess the impact on students’ learning.

“Through this process, I think our own students will identify their own misconceptions,” Luera said. “I think the best way to find out if you know something, I mean really know it, is to try to develop a lesson and teach it.”

The third innovative U-M–Dearborn project discussed at the regents meeting will benefit from two federal grants totaling $3.1 million to provide future teachers at all levels with “the skills, knowledge and confidence to integrate information technology into classroom teaching and learning,” according to Mesut Duran, assistant professor of instructional technology.

“To meet the needs of 21st-century learners, new teachers must be proficient in technology, but only 20 percent of new teachers feel well prepared,” Duran said. “This is a big challenge for schools of education, which are viewed as the most direct and cost-effective way to prepare the approximately two million new teachers who will be entering the profession in the next decade.”

The program includes professional development activities for preservice teachers, inservice teachers, and education faculty focused on telecommunication tools, productivity tools and educational multimedia. “These projects will be used to improve the preparation future teachers receive during the practice teaching assignments, particularly in schools serving low-income students,” Duran said. “One benefit will be to help decrease the digital divide in educational technology by focusing on underserved school districts.”