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School of Education
Graduate Student Learning, 2001-02

Authors: Jennie Whitcomb, Margaret Eisenhart

What are the knowledge and skill goals for the MA and PhD graduates of School of Education?

The School of Educationís mission at the graduate level is to prepare the next generation of education leaders and researchers. In particular, the School of Education is strongly committed to preparing teachers, researchers, and leaders who will use their knowledge and skills to implement research-based educational reforms and to promote equitable educational policies. The School of Education offers programs in several different areas at both the masterís and doctoral levels.

The graduate programs in the School of Education emphasize awareness and understanding of:

  • The explanatory role foundational disciplines (e.g., anthropology, history, philosophy, psychology, and sociology) play when examining problems, issues, and policies in education
  • The range and appropriate use of conceptual and analytical research tools to frame and understand complex problems in education
  • The varying contexts in which key educational decisions and policies are made and the role individuals/organizations play in shaping their direction and/or implementation
  • The research base and national research agendas devoted to understanding the educational needs of diverse populations and to promoting greater equity in educational systems.

Students who complete the masterís program are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • Interpret and respond to complex problems in education using the conceptual tools of foundational disciplines in education as well as research-based findings
  • Use research tools to analyze problems of practice they encounter in their local contexts
  • Demonstrate leadership within their local contexts to promote equity and reform-based practice.

Students who complete the doctoral program are expected to acquire the ability and skills to:

  • Develop expertise in their chosen field, including both the intellectual history of the field as well as cutting-edge developments
  • Develop and sustain an independent research agenda that has the potential to impact both educational practice/policy and the direction of scholarship in the individualís chosen field
  • Interpret and communicate the conceptual and research base of their field to different audiences/constituencies (e.g., policymakers, educational leaders, etc.)
  • Design and teach both undergraduate and graduate level courses in an exemplary manner.

What evidence does the School of Education have that these goals are being met?

Masterís candidates demonstrate their knowledge and skills upon completion of the program when they pass either a comprehensive exam or submit a professional portfolio. The quality of these culminating assessments is upheld by a three-person faculty review committee.

The following sources of evidence show how doctoral students demonstrate their knowledge and skills upon completion of the program:

  • At the conclusion of coursework, all doctoral students must pass comprehensive exams, which are reviewed by a three-person faculty committee.
  • Doctoral students are required to complete a traditional proposal and dissertation defense that is approved by a committee of at least three faculty members.
  • Doctoral students are required to write a paper of publishable quality. The studentís faculty advisor attests to the quality of this paper.
  • Doctoral students are encouraged to present at major research conferences in their chosen field.
  • Doctoral students are encouraged to teach in undergraduate teacher education courses. The quality of their teaching is evaluated primarily through FCQs.

What evidence does the School of Education use to assess the overall quality of its graduate-level programs? What assessment process does the School of Education follow to review and renew graduate programs?

  • The ranking of the School of Education when compared to peer institutions by organizations such as U.S. News and World Report. In recent years, the School of Education has ranked in or near the top 30 in the U.S. News and World Report rankings (e.g., 2001 = 31st , 2002 = 29th).
  • An analysis by the Deanís office of the Social Science Citations Index (1997-2001) found that the average number of citations per faculty member at each of the following levels was Assistant Professors = 15, Associate Professors = 41, and Professors = 144. When these average number of citations are compared to other institutions, the scholarship of UC Boulder faculty ranks in the top ten among institutions nationally.
  • Students who are in their final semester of graduate study are asked to evaluate their graduate experience along the following dimensions: scholarly development, coursework, the faculty, advising, communication/collegiality, and overall climate of the School of Education. All responses are anonymous. Results of these surveys are summarized annually and shared with the faculty.
  • The universityís Program Review Process (PRP) leads to a systematic internal and external review of the rigor and quality of the graduate programs every 7 years.

What further steps does the School of Education plan to take to enhance its program assessment process?

The School of Education has established an ad-hoc Graduate Program Review Committee, which is charged with evaluating the quality of the Schoolís graduate programs and making recommendations to the faculty to improve the structure and/or content of the graduate programs. In its assessment process, this committee will examine the following sources of evidence.

  • A comparison of the School of Educationís overall graduate programs with those from institutions ranked in the top fifteen in the most recent report by U.S. News and World Report. Criteria for comparison include core program/research requirements, research method tracks, program areas for doctoral study, teaching/research experiences offered or required, size of program, and financial aid packages.
  • Results from recent annual student exit surveys.
  • Systematic review of literature on graduate training in education.
  • Consideration of recent NSF, NRC, Pew, and Carnegie reports on graduate training in education.

Our plan is to review this material, discuss alternatives within the Committee, and then present ideas to the full faculty for consideration. Our ultimate goal is to revise our existing graduate programs so they more consistently represent the latest thinking about high quality training in educational scholarship and research.

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Last revision 06/02/04

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