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Teaching Foundations Project pilots new courses this fall


September 01, 2011

More than 30 new and reformed courses are being piloted with ASU undergraduates and with students in Arizona community colleges, developed as part of the NEXT grants’ Teaching Foundations Project. Expert evaluators from across the country have called the new curriculum “engaging,” “sophisticated,” and praised new courses for “outstanding connections to the elementary school classroom.”

The goal of the Teaching Foundations Project (TFP) is to significantly improve the undergraduate education of future teachers through partnerships among the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, ASU arts and sciences colleges, and Arizona community colleges. Increasing teacher subject area competency is one of the objectives of the ASU Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College NEXT grant, a five-year project to strengthen student achievement and school workplace functioning in historically low-performing schools across Arizona.

“These reformed courses will provide more detailed and comprehensive education in targeted subjects to make our future teachers even more effective when they step into their own classrooms,” said Mari Koerner, dean of the ASU Teachers College.

Thirty-three courses are being piloted this semester in the initial wave of a plan to offer 400 courses at 10 different ASU and community college locations by spring 2013. Twenty external evaluators – content and pedagogy experts from across the country – reviewed the courses for rigor and student engagement in their design.

The project, led by ASU’s Laura Turchi, a faculty member with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, prepares future teachers to succeed with more demanding subjects and in areas that will benefit Arizona’s elementary school classrooms. With the slogan “Great Learners Make Great Teachers,” the project expects gains on candidate scores in subject-area proficiency exams in five core content areas: English language arts, social studies, fine arts, math, and science.

"Community colleges are playing a key and expanding role in the development of educators for our communities,” said Maria Harper-Marinick, Maricopa Community Colleges executive vice chancellor and provost. “Through this partnership with the ASU Teaching Foundations Project our community college students will grow their content skills which in turn will result in more quality educators for Arizona’s classrooms.   With the complex skills needed to teach in tomorrow’s classrooms, it is essential that future educators enroll in rigorous courses that allow them to think creatively and problem solve."

Fall 2011 courses in English, fine arts, math, science and social studies are being offered at: Arizona State University, Central Arizona College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, Glendale Community College, both Mesa Community College campuses, and Pima Community College.

“For the first time in the history of training aspiring elementary education teachers, students coming from diverse educational settings of all four ASU campuses and community colleges will obtain rigorous knowledge about the government, geography, and history of the United States and Arizona,” said Ron Dorn, professor in the ASU School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, and a TFP consortium leader. “We hope that piloting this unique class will allow us to learn how to modify this class into something remarkable enough to share as a national model.”

The project is seeking current full or part-time faculty at Arizona State University or a participating Arizona community college teaching in one of the five core content areas to pilot these courses in their institutions. A $1,500 stipend is available to qualifying instructors who are willing to test out the new course materials and provide feedback to the project via online collaboration, evaluations, student surveys, and classroom observations. Individuals interested in participating should contact: Richard Malena, co-director of the TFP, at rmalena@asu.edu.