Comprehensive Standard 3.6.2

The institution structures its graduate curricula (1) to include knowledge of the literature of the discipline and (2) to ensure ongoing student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. (Graduate curriculum)  

Judgement: Compliant

Narrative  

Graduate programs at the University of South Carolina Upstate (USC Upstate) provide an opportunity for students to pursue advanced study with faculty actively engaged in scholarly pursuits.  While specialization is basic to graduate work, graduate programs respond to the advanced educational needs of the local and regional population.

As noted in the printed and online versions of the 2011-2012 Academic Catalog, three graduate programs are offered at USC Upstate:  Master of Education in Early Childhood Education, Master of Education in Elementary Education, and Master of Education in Special Education: Visual Impairment.  These programs are intended to prepare graduates to meet the challenges of teaching effectively in a diverse society.  Through reflection informed by theory, research, and performance-based assessment of K-12 students, graduate students will be capable of providing meaningful and relevant learner-centered instruction.  These programs nurture a sense of professional responsibility that includes working collaboratively with colleagues, parents, and individuals in the community; participating actively in professional organizations; and continuing personal and professional growth.  With a commitment to diversity, these reflective professionals believe that all children can learn; create a learning environment that is anti-discriminatory; understand, respect, and accommodate for group and individual differences; instruct for empathy and tolerance; instruct for altruism; and promote justice.  

Instruction in all graduate programs fosters independent learning so that graduates have the ability to work and contribute to a profession or field of study.  Degree requirements for graduate programs include a professional portfolio (example available for review onsite), which is the major tool used to assess the performance of students.  The completion of this project requires students to be self-motivated, independent learners.  Students are introduced to professional portfolios during a training session required for admission as a degree candidate.  The portfolios are arranged according to the core values and dispositions (CVDs) of the School of Education.   The CVDs are: reflective teaching practice, learner-centered instruction, performance-based assessment, commitment to diversity, and professional responsibility.  Coordinated with the framework of core values and dispositions are the standards of the respective specialized professional associations.  Over the course of the graduate program, students develop, maintain, and refine their professional portfolios.  Students’ advisors complete a formative assessment of the portfolio during their program of study.  Students may register for courses beyond 18 credit hours after achieving a rating of “satisfactory” or higher on each category of the portfolio.  The professional portfolio is completed, presented, and defended before a panel during a seminar/practicum course, which may not be taken until the student has completed 30 hours on the program of study.  The student must be able to articulate clearly, both in a rationale statement and orally, the connection between chosen artifacts, best practice, theory, and research.  

Faculty members maintain broad-based input on the content, quality, and effectiveness of all courses and programs.  Before any programs of study can be instituted, they must be analyzed for their appropriateness to the institution’s mission and earn approval through a series of reviews.  An integral component to ensure appropriate academic content is the review process for new courses and curriculum changes by the Graduate Committee.  Any program development or modification includes the following steps:

  • Origination and approval by discipline faculty in consultation with senior administrators to ensure adequate campus resources are available to support the proposal.
  • Review and approval by the School of Education Graduate Committee.
  • Review and approval by the School of Education faculty.
  • Review and approval by the University Graduate Committee.
  • Review and approval by the University faculty.
  • Review and approval by the Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. 
  • Review and approval by the Chancellor.
  • Review and approval by the University Board of Trustees. 

Single courses follow a similar pattern of review and approval, from the School of Education to the Graduate Committee, Faculty Senate, and General Faculty.

The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education
The Master of Education in Early Childhood Education program is nationally recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).  It is nationally accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.  The standards set by these agencies helps to ensure that students possess knowledge of the literature of the discipline and participate in appropriate professional practice and training experiences.

A review of the Early Childhood Education program of study shows that students must complete 15 credit hours of core required courses, 12-15 credit hours of Specialized Early Childhood requirements, and a three credit hour seminar.  Syllabi for the courses making up the curriculum list assignments that ensure both knowledge of the literature and engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences.  The five outcomes of the program are:

  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions of Reflective Teaching Practice – The reiterative cycle of teaching, describing and analyzing classroom experiences builds professional competence.
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions for Learner-Centered Instruction – The emphasis on the learners’ involvement in the construction of knowledge and skills in the classroom setting.
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions for Performance-Based Assessment – The use of real life/authentic tasks or products to measure the learners’ accomplishment of curriculum goals.
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions for a Commitment to Diversity – The affirmation of cultural and individual diversity based on the belief that all children can learn.
  • Demonstrate knowledge, skills, and dispositions to Professional Responsibility – The use of expert knowledge when confronted with typical and unique situations in classroom practice.

The introduction, reinforcement, practice, and mastery of these outcomes across courses are delineated in the form of a course assignment alignment for the Early Childhood Education program.  Also included is an alignment of course assignments to their impact on K-12 student learning; analysis of K-12 student assessment data; understanding of major concepts and theories of student learning; awareness of current research and policies. 

The Master of Education in Elementary Education
The Master of Education in Elementary Education reflects a commitment to the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI).  It is nationally accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.  The standards set by these agencies help to ensure that students possess knowledge of the literature of the discipline and participate in appropriate professional practice and training experiences.

A review of the Elementary Education program of study shows that students must complete core and content methods classes.  All students are required to complete 15 hours of core courses, 12-15 credit hours of content methods courses required courses, and a three credit hour seminar. 

Student learning outcomes of the Master of Education in Elementary Education require both knowledge of the literature of the discipline and student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences.  These five learning outcomes are:

  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of Reflective Teaching Practice – The reiterative cycle of teaching, describing and analyzing classroom experiences builds professional competence.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for Learner-Centered Instruction – The emphasis on the learners’ involvement in the construction of knowledge and skills in the classroom setting.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for Performance-Based Assessment – The use of real life/authentic tasks or products to measure the learners’ accomplishment of curriculum goals.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for a Commitment to Diversity – The affirmation of cultural and individual diversity based on the belief that all children can learn.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to Professional Responsibility – The use of expert knowledge when confronted with typical and unique situations in classroom practice.

The introduction, reinforcement, practice, and mastery of these outcomes across courses are delineated in the form of a course assignment alignment for the Elementary Education program.  Also included is an alignment of course assignments to their impact on K-12 student learning; analysis of student assessment data; understanding of major concepts and theories of student learning; awareness of current research and policies.

The Master of Education in Special Education Visual Impairment
The Master of Education in Special Education Visual Impairment reflects a commitment to the   Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).  It is nationally accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.  The standards set by these agencies helps to ensure that students possess knowledge of the literature of the discipline and participate in appropriate professional practice and training experiences.

A review of the Special Education: Visual Impairment program of study shows that students must complete a three credit hour research course, six credit hours of professional studies courses, and 30 credit hours of Visual Impairment Studies.  Student learning outcomes of the Master of Education in Special Education Visual Impairment require both knowledge of the literature and student engagement in research and/or appropriate professional practice and training experiences. These five learning outcomes are:

  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of Reflective Teaching Practice – The reiterative cycle of teaching, describing and analyzing classroom experiences builds professional competence.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for Learner-Centered Instruction – The emphasis on the learners’ involvement in the construction of knowledge and skills in the classroom setting.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for Performance-Based Assessment – The use of real life/authentic tasks or products to measure the learners’ accomplishment of curriculum goals.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions for a Commitment to Diversity – The affirmation of cultural and individual diversity based on the belief that all children can learn.
  • Demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to Professional Responsibility – The use of expert knowledge when confronted with typical and unique situations in classroom practice.

The introduction, reinforcement, practice, and mastery of these outcomes across courses are delineated in the form of a course assignment alignment for the Special Education: Visual Impairment program.  Also included is an alignment of course assignments to their impact on K-12 student learning; analysis of K-12 student assessment data; understanding of major concepts and theories of student learning; awareness of current research and policies.

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