A-Z Index

1.2 Learners, learning theory including social, emotional, and academic dimensions, and the application of learning theory in their work

All Northwest teacher, leader, and counselor candidates upon completion demonstrate knowledge of learners and learning theory including social, emotional, and academic dimensions and have applied this knowledge in clinical field experiences and student teaching. Beginning in their first semester on campus, they are introduced to learning theory in 62-111: Ecology of Teaching and 62-112: Developmental Foundations, reinforce those concepts through later coursework, and then apply them in student teaching, which is assessed with the Missouri Educator Evaluation System (MEES) assessment tool, through MEES Standard #2.

This section of the QAR is divided into four subsections: the first addresses the phase one coursework in which Northwest introduces learning theory; the second addresses the reinforcement of these concepts in phase two coursework; the third analyzes MEES data from the application of these concepts in student teaching, and the fourth analyzes First-Year Teacher Survey (FYTS) results from completers' first year of teaching, counseling, or building/district leadership.

Introducing Student Learning in 62-111: Ecology of Teaching and 62-112: Developmental Foundations

Northwest teacher preparation programs are founded upon a rich understanding of learners and learning theory beginning in a teacher candidates' first semester on campus and continuing through their coursework and field placements through student teaching. At the beginning of their instructional sequence, initial candidates complete the seven-week course 62-111: Ecology of Teaching (1 credit), in which they are introduced to Urie Bronfenbrenner and his theory of human development. In each of the seven weeks, students explore a new level of the theory, moving from microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem, and finally chronosystem (as diagrammed below). In each week, course readings are aligned to field experiences. In the second week, students interview an influential member of their own microsystem, a former teacher, for example, and analyze how that relationship informed their own development. As the module progresses, though, students increasingly experience human developmental contexts that vary from their own; in the fourth week, for example, students participate in a poverty simulation. This engaging activity allows deeper and analysis and exploration of poverty from a larger macrosystem lens. The Poverty Simulation is a simulated activity where our candidates go through a live action role play, with unexpected twists and turns reflective of those experiences that define day-to-day existence for those below the poverty line. This simulation transforms a few hours’ time into four weeks living as a community member struggling through poverty. Our candidates and faculty find this to be a defining and enriching, and quite honestly a heart-breaking activity that enables the development of empathy and reinforces the need to build strong relationships with P-12 learners, teachers, and leaders to provide and support learning.

Bronfenbrenner's theories serve thus as a cornerstone for all Northwest education programs, founding a teacher candidates' preparation on a rich contextualization of the complex influences on student development, which are often very different than their own.

Teacher candidates' continue their introduction to the student of learners and learning theory in their first semester on campus in their second seven-week course 62-112: Developmental Foundations (1 credit). This field experience-based course introduces students to methods of observation and 'noticing' of developmental constructs in educational settings. Through intentionally designed fieldwork and guided discussion, students will learn to interpret their observations and 'noticings' from the lens of developmental and learning theories. Emphasis is placed on facilitating professional growth by acknowledging and reinforcing the importance of developmental foundations in educational goal-setting, developing an awareness of bias and assumptions in interpreting data, and the need to engage in culturally responsive practice. Together, these curricular enhancements provide support for the case that candidates engage in culturally responsive practices with diverse learners to understand and engage in communities and cultural contexts, as expressed in AAQEP standard 2.1 and 2.2.

Reinforcing Concepts in Phase Two Coursework and Required Psychology Courses

All candidates reinforce concepts regarding student learning and learning theory; they take two courses (5-6 credits) in Psychology. All teacher candidates take the foundational 08-299 Educational Psychology (3 credits) and an additional psychology course relevant to their future students: elementary teacher candidates take 08-333 Developmental Psychology (3 credits) or 08-312 Child Psychology (3 credits), middle school teacher candidates take 08-317 Psychology of Early Adolescence (2 credits), and secondary teacher candidates take 08-322 Adolescent Psychology (2 credits). Syllabi for these courses (and all other PEU courses) are available in the Northwest AAQEP Canvas site.

Applying Concepts of Student Learning & Learning Theory in Student Teaching: MEES Standard #2

Please note: Missouri Educator Evaluation System (MEES) is introduced in the previous section of this report. If you have not already read that subsection, it is recommended that you go back to the previous section which details AAQEP Standard 1.1. This section will only address the MEES assessment as it applies to MEES Standard #2.

MEES Standard #2 explicitly addresses candidates' understanding of and application of knowledge of student learning, growth, and development. Thus, MEES Standard #2 provides data on candidates' preparation regarding student learning, growth, and development. MEES Standard #2 (as well as the other eight MEES standards) have all been cross-walked throughout all of the university's education programs, as outlined in Table 3: Northwest State and National Educator Prep Standards Alignment.

As shown in the data below, Northwest candidates' performance on MEES Standard #2 compares favorably with the state average for 2018-19.

Northwest performed favorably on MEES Standard #2 (learning, growth, and development), with the seventh-highest ranking of 37 Missouri providers reporting APR data. Northwest looks forward to sharing new state completer performance data with the site visit team in March. All MEES data in the quality assurance report comes from our state education agency, DESE.

Further information regarding Northwest candidates' performance on summative MEES assessments is available in later sections in this report:

First-Year Teacher Survey (FYTS) Results Regarding Student Learning, Growth, and Development

The Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education (DESE) and has a suite of six surveys educators complete in their first year of employment, which DESE has been collecting since the 2015-16 academic year. The First-Year Teacher Survey (FYTS), taken by teacher, in alignment with MEES Standard #2, asks completers five questions after their first year of teaching to assess their preparation in student learning, growth, and development (FYTS questions 6-10). In addition, the First-Year Teacher Survey by principals (FYTS), taken by principal, which is completed by principals assessing Northwest teachers following their first year on the job, likewise has four similar questions regarding student learning (questions 5-9). In the first of these, as shown in the table below, 82% of completers in their first year and 81% of their principals "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that in their first year they were "prepared to create lesson plans to engage all learners." They also indicated that they felt prepared to differentiate instruction. In both cases, Northwest-prepared candidates perceived themselves and were also perceived by their administrators to be comparatively better prepared than first-year teachers at peer institutions.

While these numbers are strong regarding creating lesson plans that engage all learners, other questions from this section may reveal some weaknesses in Northwest's programs: Northwest's lowest scores on the entire survey show that less than half of candidates (as well as their principals) felt prepared to "modify instruction for English Language Learners." More information on how Northwest plans to improve its candidates' preparation for modifying instruction for English language learners is included in the "Conclusion: Findings and Recommendations" section. These questions further revealed that only 65% of first-year Northwest teachers felt prepared "to implement instruction based on a student's IEP" or "to modify instruction for gifted learners." These have been two key areas that we have addressed in the redesigned programs-Northwest --Northwest has implemented stronger introduction and reinforcement of these principles in new coursework as described earlier in this section, and looks forward to seeing beginning in the 2021-22 surveys improvement in both these areas.

Trends in these data over the past four years, as shown in the two charts that follow, have remained relatively consistent overall over the four years in which Missouri has been administering the FYTS. For MEES Standard 1, First Year Teacher Survey Data for Northwest's most recent data from 2018-2019 compares favorably to data from four years ago, 2015-16. However, while the data in 2019-20 remains strong when compared with state numbers, these data also show a slight downward trend from 2016-17 and 2017-18 data, which is consistent with other analyses of questions from several FYTS survey questions. We are monitoring this trend.

As a result of this data (and the accreditation self-study process), Northwest is taking steps, to be discussed in more detail in the "Conclusion: Findings and Recommendations" section of this report, in the 2019-20 academic year to provide a stronger finish to the old programs. In 2021-22, the first completers from the newly redesigned undergraduate programs and their principals will take the FYTS surveys, and Northwest looks forward to comparing their data to these current completers' data.

FYTS data regarding MEES Standard #1 and #3-9 are included elsewhere in this report: