A Message from the President of Plymouth State University
Welcome to Plymouth State University’s Teacher Education and Professional Preparation Accreditation Web site. On this Web site, you will also find access to the New Hampshire Department of Education and re-approval of programs.
From our founding as a state normal school in 1871, Plymouth State University’s roots have been in teacher training, and the University is continuously improving programming to meet the needs of educators in the 21st century. It has been Plymouth State’s long-standing tradition to prepare well-educated graduates through a heritage of teaching excellence with innovation in research and in community engagement.
With the information on this Web site, we honor PSU’s commitment to sustainability while providing an extensive resource with easy accessibility.
Sara Jayne Steen
OVERVIEW TO THE INSTITUTION
INTRODUCTION TO PLYMOUTH STATE UNIVERSITY
Plymouth State University is a coeducational, residential university with an enrollment of approximately 4,200 undergraduate students and 2,800 graduate students. Plymouth State was founded in 1871 and over the years has expanded to 170 acres and forty-six buildings. During its history, the institution has evolved from a normal school to a teachers’ college to a state college and in 2003 to a state university. Plymouth State preserves the brick-and-ivy look of its New England small-college heritage while integrating state-of-the-art technology and facilities into an attractive, contemporary campus design.
With the White Mountains to the north, the Lakes Region to the south, and the Pemigewasset River bordering the town to the east, Plymouth, New Hampshire is surrounded by some of the country’s most beautiful and accessible natural landscape. A total of 3,528 full time residents reside in the town of Plymouth. Plymouth is less than 2 hours’ drive from Boston on Interstate 93. Two hours to the east is Portland, Maine; 2 hours northwest is Burlington, Vermont and 3-1/2 hours northwest is Montreal, Canada.
The university offers B.A., B.F.A., B.S., M.A.T., M.B.A., M.Ed., M.S., and EdD degrees, and the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Educational Leadership. Plymouth State is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the New Hampshire Postsecondary Education Commission, and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Program-specific accreditations include the Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) for undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting, finance, business administration, management, and marketing; the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE).; Council for the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) for Counselor Education; the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) for social work, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) Computing Accreditation Commission for computer science.
Students come to Plymouth State for its caring academic community and friendly campus, the Main Street New England setting, and easy access to New Hampshire’s great outdoors.
History of Plymouth State
New Hampshire State Normal School
The first New Hampshire State Normal School opened in Plymouth on March 15, 1871 with 80 students. As the first N.H. school for training teachers for public schools (and one of the first in the U.S.), the school was established for the better training of teachers by securing the best teachers to manage and instruct them.
Plymouth Teachers College
Plymouth Teachers College evolved from the Normal School in 1939. As in the Normal School years, Plymouth Teachers College students had a common goal—to train as the state’s best teachers. Students took their classes together, were “in training” together, and shared the experience of the aftermath of shocking world events such as a “great depression,” world-wide wars, and the first U.S. “police actions.”
The goal of PTC expanded from not only educating the best teachers but also developing happy and responsible individuals who would contribute to the betterment of society. In order to realize this goal, faculty members and students were charged with working together to achieve the following objectives:
- To receive and impart ideas with clarity, effectiveness, and exactitude.
- To demonstrate the ability to think critically.
- To apply in daily living the sound principles of physical and mental health.
- To respond sensitively to the various forms of creative expression and to participate in creative endeavor.
- To demonstrate in daily living the positive approach to life’s experiences through the development of spiritual resources and a consistent, comprehensive and integrated philosophy of life.
- To participate actively as an informed and responsible citizen in perpetuating and improving our democratic social order and in fostering international understanding and peace.
**from the 1961 PTC Catalog
University of New Hampshire System
After many changes to its missions and goals, a unified system of public New Hampshire colleges and universities was formed, and PTC became Plymouth State College. The transition allowed the College to broaden its educational functions and grant degrees in the liberal arts, business administration, and secretarial science in addition to teacher education.
Where We Are Today (Plymouth State University)
In 2003, Plymouth State College became Plymouth State University. The change was a natural evolution which recognized the regional university PSC had become.
Today, Plymouth State University is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for undergraduate, graduate, and non-traditional students. PSU offers 42 undergraduate majors and 62 minors.
In addition to outstanding programs in education, business, humanities, arts, and the natural and social sciences, hallmark outreach programs include centers and institutes for meteorology, the environment, New Hampshire studies, and rural partnerships.
Plymouth State University Mission Statement
Plymouth State University has a long tradition of meeting the evolving educational needs of the New Hampshire and New England community. Established in 1871 as Plymouth Normal School, the institution became Plymouth Teacher’s College in 1939, Plymouth State College in 1963, and Plymouth State University in 2003. A founding member of the University System of New Hampshire, Plymouth State now serves New Hampshire and the New England region as a comprehensive institution of higher education. The University confers Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Science degrees as well as Master’s degrees, Certificates of Advanced Graduate Studies in selected areas and a Doctorate in Education. Professional outreach activities and graduate courses are offered at several satellite locations around the state, and articulation agreements with other campuses of the University System and the N.H. Community Technical Colleges offer a variety of program and transfer opportunities. The University also contributes directly to the ongoing academic and cultural life of the region by providing a variety of continuing education programs, concerts and theater performances, art exhibits, and the athletic events of 17 varsity sports. PSU’s attractive residential campus of wide greens, tree-lined walkways and traditional brick buildings with an array of towers is located in the White Mountains and Lakes Region of New Hampshire, a pristine rural setting of great natural beauty and multiple outdoor recreational opportunities within easy access of the New England region.
The University motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), underscores the values upon which the Plymouth State University mission is built. These values are supported by the faculty, staff, and administration through a commitment to excellent teaching based on scholarship, research and creative endeavor; active involvement in university activities, and service to the wider community. Plymouth State University emphasizes sustainability. Plymouth State University creates an environment that supports diversity, equity, and inclusiveness for the entire community and actively prepares students to participate respectfully and responsibly in a pluralistic society. Plymouth State University is committed to providing the best possible educational programming and therefore strives for continuous program improvement through comprehensive institutional assessment.
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 professional development, between service and individual growth, and between the University campus and the larger community.
As a regional comprehensive university, Plymouth State University serves the state of New Hampshire and New England by providing well-educated graduates, by offering ongoing opportunities for graduate education and professional development, and by extending to communities’ partnership opportunities for cultural enrichment and economic development. In each of these roles, Plymouth State University has a special commitment of service to the North Country and Lakes Region of New Hampshire.
The educational philosophy of the university is based on the concepts of learner centered teaching, experiential learning and academic excellence. 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. Programs of study are designed to engage students and to prepare them for gratifying and productive careers. The undergraduate general education program gives students a broad perspective on ideas and an awareness of diverse human experiences and cultures. Academic majors and minors build on this foundation by providing concentrated learning in areas of choice. Graduate programs provide professional competency and leadership as well as the advancement of knowledge in specialized areas. In both undergraduate and graduate programs, experiential learning in the world of career and professional practice such as internships, field experiences, service learning, study abroad programs and other practical learning partnerships allow students to become directly involved in testing and applying academic theories and in ongoing personal and professional development.
Since the last state review, the University has undertaken several major initiatives. The first was a major review and revision of the general education program. The General Education program is meant to ensure that students develop the skills necessary for academic success and lifelong learning, an appreciation of the various ways scholars consider and understand human experience, and an appreciation of the process by which different approaches to scholarship can be brought to bear on the same problem. Courses taken to ensure breadth of knowledge emphasize the relevance and application of methods of inquiry and content to students’ lives. For a full description of the General Education program refer to http://www.plymouth.edu/undergraduate/general-education/
Plymouth State University received national honors by being named one of the 2009 Great Colleges to Work For after a study was conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education.. PSU was recognized in eight categories and was one of two New Hampshire colleges or universities to earn a place on the Great Colleges to Work For list. PSU President Sara Jayne Steen said the ranking was particularly meaningful because employee response was the primary factor in deciding whether an institution was honored.
“Plymouth State University is a place that is focused on our mission to educate students and encourages collaboration and mutual respect,” Steen said. “To have that sense of teamwork reflected in national honors is rewarding and something of which all members of the Plymouth State community should be proud.”
PSU earned top-10 national rankings for medium-sized schools on the following lists:
- 403(b) or 401(k) plans
- Collaborative Governance
- Disability Insurance
- Health Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Overall Satisfaction With Benefits
- Respect and Appreciation
- Work/Life Balance
The Chronicle of Higher Education 2009 Great Colleges to Work For survey results were compiled from nearly 41,000 employee responses from over 300 colleges and universities nationwide. Sixty-five percent of PSU faculty and staff surveyed responded. PSU Director of Human Resources Laura Alexander said the survey results confirm that the University offers a rewarding work environment. “Plymouth has a unique participative culture and close-knit community feel, combined with an excellent array of core benefits that are important to people and becoming less common in the modern workplace,” said Alexander.
PSU’s recognition in The Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For program marks the second consecutive year that PSU has been recognized for its efforts to create an excellent work environment. In 2008 PSU was recognized by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for the University’s policies that support family and work/life balance. The award was sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and conducted by the American Council on Education (ACE) with support from the Families and Work Institute and is based on policies and practices that support career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty.
The Chronicle’s Great Colleges to Work For® program recognizes small groups of colleges (based on enrollment size) for specific best practices and policies in work environment, pay and benefits, and institutional policies. There are 26 recognition categories for four-year institutions, and 15 categories for community colleges. Among four-year colleges, 122 institutions were recognized in at least one category. Among two-year institutions, 28 were recognized in at least one category.
During our last NEASC visit, the accreditation team noted that the campus governance system was an area of special concern. Specifically, they noted that our governance system did not balance “efficiency of accomplishment with opportunities for participation.” An implementation task force has worked for the past two years to put changes into practice, and we are now at the end of our first year under a new faculty governance structure. These reforms have resulted in a decrease in the number of committees and committee positions as well as less overlap among the remaining committees’ efforts.
We have significantly revised the faculty governance structure. For example, the work of three committees in our old structure—Academic Advising, Academic Review, and Academic Standards—overlapped and affected each in ways that, over time, had become increasingly redundant. By consolidating these three into one smaller committee, we believe we have greatly streamlined faculty governance and increased its efficiency. However, changes are much broader than this one example illustrates. The Executive Council, the principal policy-making and oversight body situated between individual committees and the full faculty, has been eliminated. It has been replaced by the Steering Committee, comprised of the chairs of the principal policy-making committees, the faculty speaker, and the speaker-elect. This committee has no policy-making responsibilities but it does continue an important role in governance oversight as well as provides an important forum for communication among the various committees. We encourage the reader to refer to the Areas of Special Emphasis portion of this report for more detail.
The Faculty Handbook is now up-to-date. As part of the ongoing restructuring of faculty governance, responsibility for keeping track of future changes now lies with the Faculty Welfare Committee.
THE UNIT (Teacher Education and Professional Preparation)
The structure of the PSU unit has evolved over the past 5 years and works well within out institutional context. The unit of PSU consists of the teacher education and professional education programs, housed in departments and the College of Graduate Studies. The unit is represented by the Council of Teacher Education (CTE). The CTE is comprised of elected representatives from every department offering a teacher certification program (Art; Atmospheric Science and Chemistry; Biological Sciences; Education; English; Languages and Linguistics; Health and Human Performance; Mathematics; Music, Theatre and Dance; and Social Sciences) as well as the Lamson Library and the College of Graduate Studies.
Unit faculty are defined by the institution as full time PSU faculty 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 at PSU, 37 are considered to be unit faculty. This includes the entire faculty within the Education Department.
The Office of Teacher Certification (OTC) administers the policies of the CTE. Previously known as the Office of Teacher Accreditation, Assessment and Clinical Experiences, this office was restructured and renamed in the fall of 2006 to reflect its responsibilities for the oversight of all candidates (baccalaureate and post baccalaureate) seeking certification; oversight of state and national accreditation efforts and the administration of the unit assessment system. After hiring a full time director in 2004, the university restructured the position so that a faculty member within the unit would direct all teacher education. The previous director was the chair of the Education Department from 2005-2007. The new director is the assistant chair of the Health and Human Performance Department with 16 years of public school experience.
Teacher Education and Professional Preparation Vision
The teacher education programs at Plymouth State University strive to develop visionary educators who will take the lead in transforming education in the state, the region and the nation to serve all students and their families. Our vision is rooted in Plymouth State’s tradition of service, emphasized in the University motto, “Ut Prosim—That I May Serve.” At the same time, we seek to anticipate and respond to changing demographics and societal expectations by reaching into communities with programs that will educate and inspire. Through collaborations with area schools and community organizations, we aim to emphasize our shared commitment to the education and well-being of all students. Above all, we endeavor to prepare competent and caring educators who exemplify the qualities of commitment, service, vision and leadership, and who, in turn, will cultivate these qualities in the students they teach.
Teacher Education and Professional Preparation Mission
Plymouth State carries on a long-standing commitment to serve communities, the state and the region, by preparing thoughtful, reflective educators who envision a better future for all students and willingly accept the responsibilities and challenges of leadership. Beyond the initial certification level, the University offers programs in a variety of educational specialties, which provide educational professionals with opportunities to enhance their personal and professional growth and development. The Council of Teacher Education builds on the University’s mission to provide learning experiences that promote understanding and respect for all people and to foster the constructive, open-minded discourse that is so necessary in a democracy.
Characteristics of the Candidates
Teacher education candidates comprise approximately one-fifth of the student body at PSU. The largest programs are in Childhood Studies (Elementary Education, K-8) and Early Childhood Studies (N-3), which account for 370 of the candidates. The K-12 certification programs in Art Education, Music Education and Physical Education are very attractive to candidates. Of the middle and secondary programs, English Education is the most popular.
Teacher education candidates are fairly evenly divided between residents of New Hampshire and residents of other New England states. This is reflective of the student body as a whole. Most of our teacher candidates are of traditional college age, though a number of ‘non-traditional” students are enrolled in teacher education programs. All of our teacher candidates are characterized by their commitment to the teaching profession and their strong interest in students and learning. They generally choose PSU on the basis of its excellent reputation for preparing teachers.
Master of Education degree programs have been offered at PSU since 1948. Today, the Master of Education program consists of 65 majors across many academic departments, and over 40 program concentrations for students to obtain teacher certification, advance in their professional knowledge of content areas, develop skills in a new field, or design a program to address personal and professional goals.
Since the last on site review of our programs by the state of New Hampshire, the College of Graduate Studies has formulated a department for School Counseling and School Psychology with four full time tenure track faculty; hired two full time tenure track faculty to coordinate the Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies (CAGS) in Educational Leadership and the new doctoral program; and developed and hired a person to coordinate all of the post baccalaureate certification programs to ensure that assessment systems are maintained and to facilitate the teaching seminar.
Graduate programs are designed to meet the needs of working professionals and are highly regarded by education professionals for their individualized approach and flexibility. Most graduate candidates are part-time students who are employed full time in educational settings. Graduate courses are offered during four terms in a variety of formats.
The distinguishing hallmark of our unit is service – to our candidates, to students, to the field of education and to the wider community. Unit faculty and candidates engage in many collaborative ventures, with professional educators and other community members, which support the mission and vision of the unit and the university.
SEE TABLE LINKED BELOW
In 1992, members of the PSU faculty representing the Education Department and the Council of Teacher Education developed a framework which was to serve as a basis for decisions made concerning teacher education. Three years later, a large and diverse group of faculty and professional educators came together at a workshop to review and suggest revisions to the framework. Their recommendations were incorporated into an expanded framework that was disseminated beginning in 1996. That framework became known by the acronym “CHECK,” which represents the core concepts and values of the framework: Commitment, Holism, Experience, Collaboration and Knowledge. These core values are meaningfully integrated into all teacher education coursework, service learning and practice teaching experiences. In brief, the underlying assumptions of the conceptual framework are as follows.
We define commitment as dedication, perseverance, and individual and social responsibility. Our candidates are committed to lifelong learning and to increasing self-knowledge. They are committed to the beliefs that all students can learn and that education has the power to transform individuals and the greater society. Our teacher candidates recognize the responsibility of educators to take a thoughtful and critical stance towards themselves and their profession.
Our holism perspective involves affirming diversity and understanding the “whole child” within the family, community and cultural context. It includes working towards an integrated curriculum and recognizing how we as educators are shaped by our own experiences and culture. This holistic perspective shapes our larger vision.
Experience allows us to put theory into practice. We provide opportunities for experiential learning that serves communities and schools so that our teacher candidates can do the same for their students. Experience also involves constantly renewing skills and knowledge within one’s discipline.
Collaboration involves working with students, families and colleagues effectively within the school context toward shared goals, demonstrating respect and openness towards diverse perspectives, and confronting and resolving conflicts effectively and respectfully. Collaboration enhances both teaching and learning, and is an essential part of developing the capacity to lead.
Knowledge refers to understanding the theory, content, methods, and materials and technologies of one’s field, as well as understanding child and adolescent development, learning processes, and student motivation within the familial, community, and cultural contexts in which children grow and learn. Teaching that engages all learners combines a knowledge of students and one’s subjects within the cultural, social and institutional context.
How do faculty, staff and students use the conceptual framework?
The CHECK framework has been planned for, instructed and assessed throughout each academic program. All disciplines have completed or are nearing completion of state and national standards aligned with the CHECK components. The framework has been included within each disciplines’ syllabi and the components are aligned with the course objectives. The underlying assumptions of the conceptual framework are articulated and shared in both introductory courses and upper level methods’ courses of each disciplines’ program.
How do candidates incorporate the conceptual framework in their daily work in the schools?
As the core values are integrated into all teacher education coursework, service learning and practice teaching experiences, it is expected that all teacher candidates will embrace each of the components. In addition, we expect candidates will begin to apply the framework in order to have an effect on student learning. The introduction of the framework occurs in specified pedagogy classes. Within field experiences, the relevancy of the philosophy is discussed, practiced and assessed using Council approved instruments.
The Council of Teacher Education regularly discusses the need for a disposition assessment that would apply to all disciplines. Several disciplines created and used a departmental form during the past year that assessed each candidate’s professional commitment to knowledge, teaching competency and student learning. The Council voted that all programs would create a plan to assess candidates dispositions including the instrument, content, frequency and timing.
See Disposition Rubric Linked Below
To ensure that performance expectations are aligned with professional, state, and institutional standards a crosswalk has been completed by each program aligning the standards with the CHECK components as well as with the Diversity Framework. These documents may be found at Crosswalk
Presently, the Office of Teacher Certification requires Faculty Evaluation of the Student Teacher Candidate prior to the student teaching capstone experience. The evaluation is required as part of the candidate’s entrance into the teacher certification program Gate 1. These evaluations align with CHECK.
How was the conceptual framework developed, who participated in the development and revisions?
The framework is a statement of purpose that grows and changes over time. The initial conceptual framework was developed in 1992. Members of the Plymouth State College faculty, representing the Council of Teacher Education, developed a framework to serve as a basis for decisions made concerning teacher education. A workshop held in January, 1995, solicited input from a larger and more diverse group of faculty and staff, which reviewed and suggested revisions to the original framework. At this time the framework became known by the acronym “CHECK,” which represented the core concepts and values of the framework. The frameworks were modified in 2002, 2003 and 2008.
To what extent do candidates and the wider professional community understand the unit’s conceptual framework?
The conceptual framework is introduced during introductory courses in education and reviewed in upper level methods’ classes and student teaching. In addition, the CHECK framework provides the organizational structure for the Faculty Evaluation of the Student Teacher Candidate recommendation forms that are required of student teaching candidates. Professors who complete these recommendations may be either teacher education faculty or from the faculty at large.
A formalized document of our CHECK philosophy is included within the Undergraduate Teacher Certification Handbook from the Office of Student Teaching. This document has been included in every academic catalog for the past several years, in the Teacher Education section. The 2009-2010 posting is on pages 174-178. In addition, several disciplines have included it within their department’s separate student teaching handbook. Ideally, the framework becomes a platform for dialogue with both faculty who teach pedagogy classes and cooperating teachers; in addition, the framework is shared with school administrators and larger educational communities.
How is the conceptual framework reflected in the unit’s curriculum, field experiences and clinical practice instruction, and candidate assessments?
The components of CHECK are embedded through several teacher education assessments (i.e. faculty recommendation forms, student teaching observation forms, OTC and departmental midterm and final assessments). These documents assist candidates as they advance through each step of the Gate system (http://www.plymouth.edu/teachercertification/forms.html )
Diversity Framework for Teacher Education at Plymouth State University
In order to teach effectively and ensure student learning in a democratic and pluralistic society, each teacher education candidate at Plymouth State University, by the conclusion of his or her program, will have developed the ability to:
- describe culture as a multifaceted and dynamic construct
- critically examine his or her own sociocultural positions and understand the ways in which background and experiences shape one’s view of the world.
- learn from and about students, families and communities, and draw on this knowledge to inform instruction
- view students and families of diverse backgrounds and abilities in respectful and affirming ways
- acquire and extend his or her own multicultural awareness by exploring and learning about the history, experiences, beliefs and values of others
- recognize and challenge biases in him/herself and others, as well as institutional oppression in schools and throughout our society
- implement inclusive, culturally responsive teaching practices
It takes a shared vision and commitment among all teacher education disciplines to implement the frameworks. Plymouth State is committed to meet this goal.