Professional Education Faculty Preparation
The educational philosophy of the University is based on academic excellence, learner-centered teaching, experiential learning, applied research, regional service, and leadership. The Plymouth State University education features a complementary relationship between liberal arts and professional studies, between academic and personal development, between service and individual growth, and between the University campus and the larger community.
The staffing needs for full time and contract faculty to teach courses are decided by the Department Chairs and Provost. Depending on enrollment, early retirements, resignations, etc. these needs are met in order to maintain the ratio of 24:1. Currently, PSU has a total of 188 full time faculty. Of these, 160 are tenured or in tenure track positions and 28 are in non-tenured track teaching positions. Among the tenured and tenure track faculty in the institution as a whole, 143 hold terminal degrees. At PSU, teacher certification programs are housed within individual departments. The 13 undergraduate initial certification programs are housed within 9 departments. The College of Graduate Studies offers initial teacher certification in all of these areas as well as advanced certification programs. Given this organizational structure for teacher certification, identifying unit faculty can be challenging. PSU considers unit faculty to be full time faculty members who teach full or part time in the unit and whose teaching load consists primarily of unit courses or administrative and/or supervisory responsibilities within a professional education program. Of the 188 full time faculty members at PSU, 37 are regarded as unit faculty. This includes all of the faculty within the Education Department.
The institution ensures, encourages and supports professional development of faculty by: (1) awarding sabbatical leaves upon completion of 6 years of full time service to the institution; (2) travel for research or attendance at conferences (“Faculty are encouraged to travel to conferences to present papers and otherwise participate in the activities of their disciplinary organizations. Academic departments are assigned faculty travel funds as part of their budgets. In addition, the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) has a separate fund for faculty development. A major use of this fund is for travel to do research and present papers. The VPAA’s Office has forms to be used to apply to the fund for specific projects” ); faculty tuition vouchers; grants for research; and University awards (Distinguished Teaching Award, Distinguished Service Award, Distinguished Advising Award, Distinguished Research Award given annually to one faculty member).
The university policy, as stated in the Faculty Handbook, is that “normal full time teaching load is 12 teaching credits per semester.” Undergraduate courses are assigned three teaching credits and graduate courses are assigned four teaching credits; therefore teaching loads do not exceed 12 hours for undergraduate teaching or 9 hours for graduate teaching. The teaching load does not preclude unit faculty from being involved in advising, scholarship, service and collaborative work with P-12 schools; indeed, these activities are regarded as part of a faculty member’s responsibilities.
Excellence in teaching is at the heart of PSU’s mission. All faculty are expected to be deeply committed to their teaching and their students. Unit faculty model the values of the conceptual framework – commitment, holism, experience, collaboration, and knowledge – in their teaching and interactions with candidates, colleagues, and the broader educational community. The value and mission statements of the Council of Teacher Education clearly state the goals and values of the unit faculty. The unit faculty strive to be the kind of teachers we want our candidates to become – “thoughtful, reflective educators who envision a better future for all students and willingly accept the responsibilities and challenges of leadership.”
Unit faculty employ a wide range of instructional strategies, including but not limited to: direct; small group/collaborative learning; field based experiences; one on one; Smart board; Blackboard; Moodle; case studies; role play; video taping; media based creative activities; electronic portfolio; and online hybrid classes. Candidates conduct observations in schools or other settings, and students, parents, teachers, and administrators are frequent guest speakers in classes. Based on a survey of Unit Faculty 97.3% use 6 or more instructional strategies.
The Coordinator of Teacher Certification and Clinical Experience, in consultation with the program coordinators and Director of Teacher Education, is responsible for recruiting, hiring, and training clinical faculty to supervise student teachers. Those who wish to become part-time clinical faculty send a letter of application, a resume, and two references to the OTC. The hiring process includes an interview with the Coordinator and Department specific Coordinator. During the first semester as clinical faculty, new supervisors are mentored by an experienced supervisor. The new supervisor is monitored by the Coordinator of Teacher Certification and Clinical Experience. A normal load for part time supervisors is considered to be two student teachers per teaching credit. Most part time supervisors are responsible for 2-4 student teachers, for a total of 1-2 teaching credits. No part time supervisor is responsible for more than 6 student teachers.
All clinical faculty/cooperating teachers attend an orientation/training session at the beginning of each semester with the coordinator and the specific department coordinator. Students evaluate their clinical faculty on a semester basis and the feedback is then given annually to the supervisors. Also, full-time faculty have supervisory responsibilities for student teachers. Their supervisory responsibilities are included in their 12 credit teaching load each semester.
In addition, some full time faculty also supervise student teachers as part of their teaching load. These faculty expressed concerns to the CTE about the formula for determining number of candidates supervised per teaching credit because it did not take into account, distance to be traveled to the school site and the amount of time involved in supervision, especially given block scheduling in many high schools. As a result of these discussions, the CTE voted to leave it to the discretion of the department chair, with the approval of the Provost, to determine the number of candidates to be supervised by each full time faculty member, with one student teacher per teaching credit. This policy allows for consideration of time and distance in the supervisory load.
Most members of the University faculty will be asked to serve as faculty advisors, and the success of the academic affairs program hinges on the extent to which these faculty advisors carry out their responsibilities. The advising process should involve those faculty members who have the knowledge, experience, and interest in developing communication with students that is genuine, sincere, and confidential. Faculty advising of individual students involves being available to assist students in a variety of their life activities while at Plymouth State University. Recognizing that students differ in terms of the variety and urgency of their need for help, advisors should be particularly interested in the academic planning, scholastic achievement, career planning, and social adjustment of their assigned students. Such counseling should be based on the evaluation of skills and abilities and the identification of personal priorities.
Unit faculty are subject to the same evaluation processes as all faculty members at the university. Department chairs, or their designated representatives, and the Provost ,or her designated representatives, observe and evaluate untenured faculty each year prior to promotion and tenure. Each department uses some type of evaluation tool of faculty to be completed at the end of the semester. Candidates evaluate clinical faculty as well as cooperating teachers during their last seminar as part of the Program Assessment/Unit Assessment System. These evaluations are shared with faculty and/or program coordinators. The Director of Teacher Education reviews all full time faculty evaluations and reports results to the program coordinators. The program coordinator in concert with the department chair will work with the faculty to improve strengths. Part time clinical faculty who receive poor evaluations are mentored by the coordinator of clinical field experiences.
The following include changes that have occurred based on this standard:
1. We are committed to creating a vibrant group of diverse, competent, and dedicated scholars and teachers. We have taken the opportunity to diversify when hiring new faculty. We reviewed Human Resources practices and made strategic changes to our advertising process using inclusive language in ads, and expanding our advertising to journals and professional organizations likely to attract more minority candidates. A recent hiring rate of 27 percent minority or international faculty (thirteen of forty-nine positions) highlights our success at the institutional level.
2. In the previous IR report completed in 2004 there were 172 full time faculty we have increased that number to 191. The increase has helped reduce our reliance on overload pay and adjunct faculty. The provost and the president are actively working with department chairs on approaches to reducing the ongoing concern of faculty workload.
3. Scholarship and Professional Development: By helping faculty, staff, and administrators seek funding opportunities, the Office of Sponsored Programs has more than doubled the level of external funding from $1.3 million in 2003 to $2.8 million in the past year. It assists with pre-award planning and proposals, and it administers awards for research. We plan to continue our successes in attracting a more diverse candidate pool and in further diversifying the faculty.
The Provost has been very generous in funding attendance to professional conferences for accreditation training (SPA). Faculty have attended the AACTE conference for the past three years, the PDS conference and the AACTE/NCATE conference held in September.
4. Instruction, and outreach projects. The office also serves as a liaison to our external partners, ensuring compliance with regulations and monitoring post award financial management. We value this work and support continued growth in the area of sponsored programs.
To further support and recognize scholarship and pedagogy, Academic Affairs has increased funds for faculty professional development from $40,000 to nearly $80,000 in the 2008 fiscal year. Additionally, the provost has created a Research Advisory Council (RAC). The council, composed of faculty and staff, advises the provost in her efforts to create a work environment where faculty thrive in their scholarly and creative endeavors as well as service to the region and beyond. The RAC recently awarded its first round of annual Faculty Research Development Grants. Funding includes release time for faculty research, student employment, and graduate assistant-ships.
The Frost Faculty Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence continues to provide on-campus workshops addressing a variety of topics dealing with effective teaching. In addition to the longstanding Distinguished Teaching award, two recently instituted annual awards, Distinguished Scholar and Excellence in Faculty Service, honor faculty members and serve to heighten the awareness of their multiple roles. Last year, we added an annual Distinguished Adjunct Teaching award.
Since becoming a university, PSU has founded several new centers focused on regional service, outreach, and research: The Center for the Environment, the Center for Rural Partnerships, and the Center for Active Living and Healthy Communities. Along with the Judd Gregg Meteorology Center and the Institute for New Hampshire studies, these centers represent the majority of our funding success.
We will continue supporting the faculty in their pursuit of teaching and research goals by providing resources for enhancing skills, knowledge, and dispositions. We also plan to continue our successes in attracting a more diverse candidate pool and in further diversifying the faculty. The office of Sponsored Programs has moved under the provost’s direction. This will provide a closer connection between research activity and academic affairs.
5. The Director of Teacher Education role has changed since the last NCATE report. The emphasis on performance based assessments, collection of data, and analysis of data for continuous improvement has been the emphasis as we prepared for the current NCATE report. A number of professional development seminars and retreats have been instituted over the past three years to assist full and part time faculty in their endeavors to develop and implement assessments.
6. Endowed Professorships: Two new endowed professorships have been created to honor excellence in teaching these include the following:
a. The Stevens-Bristow Endowed professorship is awarded to a faculty member in teacher education who has a record of excellence in teaching, advising or mentoring; engages in scholarly activity or creativity that is recognized nationally or internationally, and exhibits outstanding contributions to the profession, University or state.
b. Wixson Endowed Professorship was created to celebrate and recognize faculty in the Department of Mathematics who are exemplary models of teaching, scholarship and service, or who show strong promise in these areas.