Study findings aim to improve teacher preparedness strategies

The Gentry Building is home to NEAG. (Matt Lin/The Daily Campus)

The Gentry Building is home to NEAG. (Matt Lin/The Daily Campus)

The findings of an American Institutes for Research (AIR) study are geared toward improving strategies for teacher preparedness and could be applied to undergraduate and graduate pre-teaching programs across the country to better prepare people who want to become teachers, Jenny DeMonte and Jane Coggshall of AIR said.

DeMonte and Coggshall said these findings include a push for specific and practice-driven research, which involves targeting a particular issue regarding teacher preparedness and then testing out new strategies in a real classroom. The study also calls for the use of observational feedback from students and researchers in classrooms and a strong emphasis on measurement and data collection to allow for repetition of successful practices.

The report validates what the Neag faculty already have been doing.
— Dr. Suzanne Wilson

The findings of this large-scale study are consistent with other teacher preparedness studies across the country, Dr. Suzanne Wilson, Neag Endowed Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Connecticut and Chair of Curriculum and Instruction in the Neag School, said in an email.

“Teacher preparedness has been the focus of a great deal of (at times) impassioned debate in the last thirty years,” Wilson said. “The teacher workforce is the largest profession in the U.S.; preparing close to four million teachers to be high quality is challenging.”

The study involved participants from schools across the country, including Northern Arizona University, Indiana University and Drexel University, to bring together strategies on the usually divided topic of teacher preparedness approaches, DeMonte and Coggshall said.

“As one of our country’s most important social institutions, schools – and teachers – are a site for debate about U.S. values and priorities, and as a divided public, it is not surprising that we would be divided on the question of how teachers are prepared,” Wilson said. “The conference on which the report is based made a conscientious effort to collect both practitioners and researchers who have interests in teacher education in one place, and to provide structures to support collective work toward common ends, rather than debate.”

The study began in April 2017 when a panel of more than three dozen teacher-educators, school district leaders and researchers came together to plan an investigation into how to better prepare teachers, DeMonte and Coggshall said.

A new research design was utilized in the study in which the participants convened first to plan their investigation, tested their new strategies out in the classroom and then reconvened to discuss their findings, DeMonte and Coggshall said.

Wilson said Neag has already used some of these findings, from studies similar to this one in the past.

“The Neag teacher preparation program has embraced several of the cornerstones of these reforms, including strong partnerships with local schools in which prospective teachers have extensive clinical practice, a focus on high leverage practices and using data in ways that enable nimble and rapid changes when programmatic weaknesses are identified,” Wilson said. “So the report validates what the Neag faculty already have been doing.”


Miranda Garcia is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at miranda.r.garcia@uconn.edu.