OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of education

Economic issues are key to predicting whether students will graduate college, study shows

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Economic issues play a significant role in determining whether first-time students enrolling in a four-year college will complete their degree and graduate within six years, a new study from Oregon State University has found.

The socioeconomic status of the student body and the college or university’s revenue and expenditures serve as a predictors of a student’s chances of success at four-year broad access colleges and universities, said Gloria Crisp, an associate professor in OSU’s College of Education.

Four-year broad access institutions are colleges and universities that accept 80 percent or more of their applicants. The majority of students enrolled in four-year public and private colleges in the U.S. are enrolled in these types of institutions. 

“There are a lot of variables that factor into whether a student will graduate, but many of them are economic,” Crisp said. “That tells us that the way to raise graduation rates is through support, both of the student and to the institution.”

The findings were published recently in the journal Research in Higher Education. Co-authors are Erin Doran of Iowa State University and Nicole Alia Salis Reyes of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

The study is believed to be the first to model graduation rates specifically at four-year broad access institutions. The researchers began studying graduation rate predictors at these colleges and universities in part because they are widely overlooked in research and discussion about college success.

Much of the focus on college student populations, their needs, their graduation rates and their overall success is centered on elite colleges and universities. Elite colleges are those that are very difficult to gain entry to, draw high achieving students, tend to have large fundraising endowments to support scholarships and other services and may also serve fewer students overall.

“The elite universities are considered the best even though they predominately serve the most academically prepared students who are likely to successful wherever they enroll,” Crisp said. “There’s a disconnect between the expectations of those top tier schools, which garner much of the attention, and the broad access institutions, which are serving students who may not be academically prepared for college work upon entering college and are underserved throughout the K-20 educational system including low-income, African American and Latina/o students. Holding them to the same standard doesn’t work.”

Researchers reviewed publicly available student data for more than 400 broad access institutions for the 2008-09 school year and the 2014-15 school year, using Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, or IPEDS.

The findings also indicated that universities with a religious affiliation, a higher percentage of full-time students and large enrollments were likely to have higher graduation rates.  

However, when the researchers examined underserved populations, including African American and Latino students, on their own, they found that it was predominately socioeconomic factors that affected graduation rates among those groups.

“For those students, resources really matter, in a way that is different from the population as a whole,” Crisp said. “That finding is consistent with the persistent inequities in college completion rates for these underserved populations.”

The new insights about broad access institutions and their students can help education leaders and policymakers better understand how the needs of those institutions may differ from those of elite schools.

“It’s about understanding these institutions, making them part of the conversation, and in some ways, changing the conversation to better reflect the experience of most college students and their universities,” she said. “What are their experiences? What can we do to support them?”

That issue is of particular importance right now as policymakers across the U.S. are being asked to increase college graduation rates, and are also considering in some cases, implementing policies that tie funding for public colleges and universities to performance measures, such as six-year graduation rates, Crisp said.

“This research indicates that approach may be counter-productive if the goal is to see more students complete college,” she said. “More research is needed to better understand how resources should be allocated effectively and efficiently while working toward the goal of higher and more equitable college graduation rates.”

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Media Contact: 

Michelle Klampe, 541-737-0784

Source: 

Gloria Crisp, 541-737-9286
Gloria.crisp@oregonstate.edu

OSU appoints Toni Doolen dean of the College of Education

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Toni Doolen, dean of the Honors College at Oregon State University, has been named dean of the university’s College of Education.

Doolen will continue in her role as dean of the Honors College, while also serving as executive dean of Oregon State’s Division of Arts and Sciences, which includes the colleges of Education, Liberal Arts, Science and the Honors College.

Doolen, who is a professor in the university’s School of Mechanical, Industrial, and Manufacturing Engineering, replaces Larry Flick, who has served as the dean of the College of Education since July 2011.

“I am deeply impressed with Dr. Doolen’s ability to articulate the key role that the College of Education must play at OSU,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Ed Feser. “As a professor of engineering, she is a published author in engineering education, and has studied assessment methods and use of technology in instruction.

“She will bring the college experienced, thoughtful leadership and a stellar record as a highly respected contributor to the OSU Provost’s Council and university leadership, in general,” Feser said. “Dr. Doolen has a proven skill in stewarding collaborative decision making around visions, plans and resources, and has demonstrated success in building partnerships with units across the university in her role as Honors College dean. Those abilities and skills will serve the College of Education and the university very well.”

The College of Education has more than 14,000 alumni from throughout the U.S. and 35 nations. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Corvallis, at OSU-Cascades in Bend and online through Oregon State’s nationally ranked Ecampus distance education program.

Graduate degree programs include seven master’s degrees in areas including adult and higher education; school counseling and clinical mental health, as well as doctoral degrees in counseling, adult and higher education leadership; and science and mathematics. As well, the College of Education offers many education certificate programs for educators.

Feser praised Flick’s contributions in advancing the College of Education and extending its impact through partnerships with school districts in Beaverton, Central Oregon and the Willamette Valley. Feser said the college also has engaged in extensive efforts to advance STEM education among its students and teachers throughout Oregon.

The college has 80 faculty and staff members who serve approximately 500 undergraduate and graduate students, conduct research, and are involved in community engagement work throughout the state.

“I am honored to be asked to help continue and grow the impact in teaching, research and service that is being done in the College of Education,” Doolen said. “The mission of the college is to prepare, inspire and support teachers, counselors, educational leaders, researchers and volunteers. This is a very important role and engages Oregon State in working with educators and promoting lifelong learning in K-12 schools, colleges and universities and throughout our communities.

“We will continue to embrace innovation in all that we do in the college,” Doolen said.

Doolen joined OSU in 2001, following several years of manufacturing experience at Hewlett-Packard Company as an engineer, senior member of technical staff and manager. She received a B.S. in electrical engineering and a B.S. in materials science and engineering from Cornell University, an M.S. in manufacturing systems engineering from Stanford University and her Ph.D. in industrial engineering from Oregon State. 

Under her leadership, enrollment within the Honors College has grown significantly to 1,057 students or 4.2 percent of all OSU undergraduates – an increase of 3.6 percent from 2015. At the same time, the number of high-achieving freshmen entering OSU – graduates from Oregon high schools with a cumulative GPA of 3.75 or greater – grew to 47 percent of all incoming first-time students in fall 2016.

In addition, the Honors College collaborates with every academic college at Oregon State to increase the diversity of high-achieving students enrolling at and graduating from OSU. 

Media Contact: 

Steve Clark, 541-737-3808

Source: 

Edward Feser, 541-737-0733

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Toni Doolen

Toni Doolen

OSU research funds reach second consecutive record of $336 million

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University research funding reached $336 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30 – a second consecutive year of record-breaking growth and an increase of more than 60 percent over the past decade.

In 2006, the university garnered $209 million from state, federal and private-sector sources. Since then, OSU has received research revenues totaling more than $3 billion. In the last year, Oregon State researchers brought in $27 million more from all sources than they did in 2015, a 15 percent increase in competitive federal grants and an overall 9 percent increase.

OSU accounts for more research funding than nearly all of the state’s comprehensive public universities combined.

“Our researchers deserve all the credit for this amazing accomplishment,” said Cynthia Sagers, Oregon State vice president for research. “They have stepped up to the challenge of securing research funds that support our programs and our students, and create an impact on Oregon, the nation and the world.”

Through salaries, student stipends and expenditures, Oregon State research generates an annual societal and economic impact of about $762 million in the state and globally, based on an assessment conducted in 2015 by ECONorthwest.

Ongoing projects funded last year include:

  • Shannon Lipscomb at OSU-Cascades in Bend, an associate professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences, is leading a four-year, $1.5 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Education to train teachers to work with children exposed to trauma such as abuse, neglect, parental mental illness or parental substance abuse.
  • With grants totaling $227,000 from the Simons Foundation, Angelicque White and Laurie Juranek in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, are collaborating with scientists from the University of Washington, MIT, the University of Hawaii and the University of Southern California on a research project in the remote North Pacific Ocean. Preliminary results suggest that changes in the ratios of nitrogen, carbon and other nutrients lead to distinct shifts in microorganisms, affecting climate and the growth of plants and animals that live in the sea.
  • With a $2 million grant from the U.S. Army, Joseph Beckman, distinguished professor in the Linus Pauling Institute and the College of Science, is developing a potential ALS treatment cased on copper ASTM. He has demonstrated that this compound in mice can halt the progression of what is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
  • With a $1.4 million grant from the Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund, the College of Engineering has been developing improvements to plastic injection molding processes and investigating the use of biopigments for digital printing on fabric. The aim in both initiatives is to increase manufacturing competitiveness by reducing waste and boosting energy efficiency.

 OSU researchers undertook projects to study and manage forests, coastal waters and other natural resources; to protect human health by identifying new treatments for infectious diseases; and to support communities and businesses by solving problems in food, energy and water systems.

Scientists are developing new ways to deliver education in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math — and tracking the performance of students learning English as a second language.

Success, Sagers added, is due in part to collaborations among researchers across disciplines in areas such as robotics, marine sciences and information technologies.

“Working with people outside one’s own field can lead to real advances in knowledge and innovation,” Sagers said. “We’re seeing progress in unmanned aerial systems for agriculture, forestry and infrastructure inspections, in genetic testing to understand disease and improve food security, and in software for environmental monitoring and crop improvements.”

Research results are finding their way into businesses, fueling economic growth. For example, two newly formed companies — Agility Robotics and e-MSion, Inc. — have grown out of OSU labs with help from the Oregon State University Advantage program and RAIN, the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network.

Agility Robotics is developing the second generation of a bi-pedal robot with funding from the federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. E-MSion is driven by an advance in mass spectrometry, a workhorse technology in research labs worldwide. The company aims to transform this high-end research tool into an easy-to-use appliance and hire 20 to 30 employees within five years.

Among funds received in 2016 were the following:

  • $5.3 million from the Agricultural Research Foundation for projects to enhance the productivity and sustainability of food and ornamental crops across the state
  • $2.8 million from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, focusing on undersea eruptions, fisheries and acoustic techniques for monitoring marine mammals and other animals
  • $1.2 million for the Long Term Ecological Research program at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, emphasizing environmental responses to climate change
  • $3 million for design and bid preparation for two to three new regional class coastal research vessels
  • $1 million from Oregon BEST for 17 sustainability projects in wood science, engineering and agriculture
  • 11 NSF CAREER Awards to jumpstart research programs by young researchers in engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry and statistics
  • 35 grants over $1 million, for projects ranging from biomass fuels for the Northwest and plant genetics to changing Arctic and North Atlantic Ocean conditions, aquaculture, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, STEM education and health risks of air pollution

Funds provided by federal agencies increased over what was received in 2015 from the Department of Commerce, up 72 percent; Department of Energy, up 69 percent; Department of Defense, up 39 percent; and Department of Health and Human Services, up 30 percent. Total federal funding grew from $185 million last year to more than $212 million in 2016.

State appropriations for land grant funding — money that supports work in agriculture, wood products, engineering and other fields —increased by $7 million, from $61 million in 2015 to $68 million in 2016. Funds are being used to hire experts to work with farmers, ranchers and others on issues from water quality and disease control to food safety and value-added manufacturing.

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Cynthia Sagers, 541-737-0664

cynthia.sagers@oregonstate.edu

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New research vessel

 

Robert Tanguay

Zebrafish research


ATRIAS, a two-legged robot created at Oregon State University, ambles down the sideline at Reser Stadium, home of Beaver football. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)
Bipedal robot

 

YouTube video

https://youtu.be/q8TCAClYais 

 

High resolution downloadable video:

http://bit.ly/2c4Ta7b

Two OSU buildings selected for 2013 DeMuro Award

CORVALLIS, Ore.— The Hallie Ford Center and Joyce Collin Furman Hall at Oregon State University have been selected to receive the 2013 DeMuro Award for Excellence in Preservation, Reuse and Community Revitalization by Restore Oregon.

The Hallie Ford Center is being recognized as an outstanding example of compatible infill development within a historic district. Furman Hall is being recognized for the extraordinary complexity, creativity, design and craftsmanship of its historic rehabilitation.

They are among seven Oregon buildings to be honored with the award this year. The awards were presented at a banquet Wednesday in Portland, which included a guest presentation by Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

The DeMuro Award honors extraordinary historic rehabilitation projects and compatible infill development across Oregon – residential and commercial, urban and rural, private and public. The award is named in honor of Art DeMuro whose redevelopment of historic properties such as the White Stag Block set the standard for quality, creativity, persistence, and business acumen.

“Hallie Ford wanted to inspire people to use the resources they have to make the world a better place,” said Richard Settersten, Hallie E. Ford endowed director. “This principle not only drives the work we do, but is also reflected in the intentional design and beauty of the building we now call home."

According to Restore Oregon, the Hallie Ford Center is an outstanding example of compatible infill development that harmonizes beautifully with its neighbors. “It makes a distinct statement that’s of its time, yet is complementary in scale, massing, proportion, and materials, enhancing the story of the historic district,” Restore Oregon staff noted.

The Hallie Ford building houses the Hallie E. Ford Center for Children and Families. Made possible by a gift from late Oregon philanthropist Hallie Ford, the center opened Sept. 8, 2011, and is home to interdisciplinary, collaborative research from the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

Furman Hall, which was originally built in 1902 and recently restored, was honored by Restore Oregon for being rescued from a deteriorating and dangerous state. Seismically unsound and wrapped in netting to protect pedestrians from crumbling sandstone, Furman Hall was structurally rebuilt, its interior redesigned, and sandstone façade replaced in kind.

"Furman Hall is destined to become one of the icons of the OSU campus,” said Larry Flick, dean of the College of Education. “Descriptions of the mapping of the original stone shapes to the newly quarried stone, delights visitors, parents, and students.  It is not unusual to look out my window and see a passerby photographing the building. The DeMuro Award is an honor for FFA and OSU in a highly successful collaboration to restore a proud part of OSU heritage."

Education Hall, originally built in 1902, re-opened as Joyce Collin Furman Hall in January 2012, following a complete renovation. An iconic structure at the campus’ east entrance, the renovated building blends historic charm with high-tech touches. The exterior seismic upgrades were funded by the state, and the interior renovations were made possible by private donors, including a $2 million gift from William A. Furman through the Joyce N. Furman Memorial Trust.

 

For more information: http://restoreoregon.org/demuro-award/

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Larry Flick
541-737-3664;

Richard Settersten
541-737-8902

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Repeating algebra not usually the answer

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Almost 50 percent of students repeated a math class between eighth and 10th grades and more than 60 percent showed no evidence of improving their math proficiency after repeating the class, according to a recently published analysis of data from six California school districts by an Oregon State University researcher.

In the analysis, Karen Thompson, an assistant professor in the College of Education, also found that the math obstacle was often more pronounced in students not proficient in English.

For example, students who at the time were not proficient in English, whom she calls “current English learners,” were three times less likely to ever score proficient in Algebra 1 and about four times less likely to enroll in an accelerated math program, compared to students proficient in English.

“Not only is the system not successful the first time in achieving the desired outcome, but the follow-up method is also not working,” Thompson said. “This research provides a clear message that just having the students repeat a class that they just failed is not an effective strategy.”

High school math courses are often seen as gatekeepers to a college education. Yet, successful completion of high school math courses remains elusive for many, particularly English learners, who account for about 1 in 10 students in the United States.

Thompson, who was formerly a teacher in an English-Spanish bilingual classroom in California, set out to better understand that math obstacle.

Her paper, “What Blocks the Gate?  Exploring Current and Former English Learners’ Math Course-Taking in Secondary School,” which was just published in the American Educational Research Journal, has two components.

First, she analyzed data from four cohorts of students enrolled in seventh to 10th grade from 2005-06 to 2011-12 school years in the six California districts.

Among the key findings:

  • Only 35 percent of all students ever scored proficient on algebra 1 and only 12 percent of “current English learners” ever scored proficient.
  • 61 percent of all students who repeated algebra 1 had the same or a lower math proficiency after taking the class the second time. The number was 67 percent for current English learners.
  • 25 percent of all students enrolled in an accelerated math sequence and only 7 percent of current English learners were enrolled.
  • 45 percent of all students repeated a math class between eighth and 10th grades and 50 percent of current English learner students repeated a math class during those grades.

The one caveat with this data is that during the time period Thompson studied California was pushing to enroll all eighth graders in algebra, a policy decision that no doubt impacted the data, Thompson said.

For the second component of the paper, Thompson reconnected with 14 students she taught in fourth grade and interviewed them when they were high school seniors about their lifelong personal and academic experiences.

She learned that students didn’t have trouble accessing classes, but had trouble succeeding once they were enrolled, particularly in math. That led her to conclude that educators and policymakers need to consider alternate pathways for students who fail a class.

She recommends that districts and schools consider how to expand math tutoring opportunities. Given funding limitations, schools could potentially explore peer tutoring models or partner with local universities or nonprofits to implement volunteer-based tutoring programs.

She also believes technology-enabled personalized learning merits further exploration. And she says districts and schools might consider experimenting with mathematics support classes, in which students receive tailored instruction during one period of the school day to support them in their core mathematics courses.

Media Contact: 

By Sean Nealon, 541-737-0787, sean.nealon@oregonstate.edu

Source: 

Karen Thompson, 541-737-2988, karen.thompson@oregonstate.edu

OSU to host events celebrating hands-on learning and maker culture April 14-15

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will host The Co., a  two-day event celebrating hands-on learning and maker culture, April 14-15 on the Corvallis campus.

“SEA Through the Eyes of an Artist” will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. April 14 at Furman Hall. The fourth-annual Corvallis Maker Fair will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 15 in the Memorial Union Ballroom and the Student Experience Center Plaza. Both events are free and open to the public.

“Maker” culture is a popular movement honoring craftsmanship and technology and the sharing of knowledge, skills and resources. The Co. event offers the OSU community and the public an opportunity to collaborate, innovate and create. The event also provides a forum for teaching the value of hands-on learning in classrooms from kindergarten through college.

“SEA Through the Eyes of an Artist” is a new event this year, hosted by the College of Education in conjunction with The Co. and SPARK, OSU’s year-long celebration of the arts and science. All events are free and open to the public. The schedule is:

  • 9:30 a.m. to noon: Activities for K-12 students including a Muddy Creek project demonstration; SMILE (Science and Math Investigative Learning Experiences);  StreamWebs; Art at Sea; and Storytime with Judy Li. Furman Hall.
  • 1-2 p.m.: Keynote speaker, Brownwyn Bevan of the University of Washington College of Education, who will deliver an interactive keynote presentation on makerspace research in the Learning Innovation Center, Room 100.
  • 2-5 p.m.: Activities for the OSU community, including an earthquake/tsunami activity station; an “interpret your research” competition for graduate students to demonstrate their dissertation or capstone projects through music, dance, painting or other art forms; and happy hour with Bevan. Furman Hall.
  • 5-9 p.m.: Activities for families and the community, including a COSIA activity station. Furman Hall.

Other activities include an arts and science geocaching quest throughout the OSU campus; panels to inspire women and girls to enter STEM fields, presented by the campus groups Women in Science and Women in Engineering; and a show focused on arts and science presented by the Corvallis Public Library. A full schedule of events is available online: http://www.corvallismakerfair.org/the-co-2017/sea-through-the-eyes-of-an-artist/.

At Saturday’s Maker Fair, attendees can talk to experts in the arts, crafts, technology, and sciences and leave with unique souvenirs such as Michael Boonstra’s laser-etched cedar selfies.

Visitors can also tie flies with OSU Fly Fishing, experience virtual reality gaming with Solid Fuel Studios, help build a Mars lander based on the actual Viking design plans with the Viking Mars Mission Preservation and Education Team, learn basic programming concepts with the OSU Open Source Lab, find out about the process of creating pigments with the Mobile Color Lab and more.

The Co. is organized by a team of OSU faculty, staff, and students and professionals from the Corvallis area. Sponsors and partners for the 2017 event include HP, Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, OSU College of Education, OSU College of Forestry, OSU Division of Outreach and Engagement, OSU College of Liberal Arts, OSU Libraries and Press, and SPARK.

Registration information, a complete schedule, exhibitor list and additional details about the events are available on the event website, www.corvallismakerfair.org.

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Charles Robinson, 541-737-6535, charles.robinson@oregonstate.edu

New ‘hybrid’ clinical mental health master’s degree addresses national need for counselors

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In response to a rising need for more mental health counselors, Oregon State University is offering a new hybrid degree program designed for working professionals.

The Health Resources & Services Administration projects a shortage of 26,930 mental health counselors nationwide by 2025, and a 2013 study found that approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population who reported having a behavioral health disorder did not receive treatment.

Beginning this summer, OSU’s 90-credit hybrid Master of Counseling degree program with an option in clinical mental health will train counselors to help stressed individuals overcome personal and environmental obstacles.

The program is offered through OSU’s College of Education in partnership with Oregon State Ecampus, the university’s online education division. The new hybrid format is designed for working professionals with half of the course work online and half in face-to-face classroom meetings held twice a term in Salem, Oregon.

“I believe that a lot of the mental health issues do not come from the person, but as a response to the environment that oppresses and ostracizes them,” said program coordinator and OSU College of Education Professor Kok-Mun Ng. “We need to understand the environmental impact of the individual’s mental health and wellness, and how we could, as professionals, empower clients to change their environment and find their own voice to fight back.”

The program is nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs and classes are modeled after the successful on-campus clinical mental health counseling master’s program at the university’s OSU-Cascades campus in Bend.

Graduates will work in a variety of settings, including community counseling agencies, rehabilitation facilities, college counseling centers, primary care facilities, veterans affairs and private practice offices.

“It’s a profession that is growing locally, nationally and internationally,” Ng said. “And because the program is CACREP-accredited, students will have a wide-open door in terms of careers.”

The new cohort will begin in summer term, 2017. More information is available online at ecampus.oregonstate.edu/mcoun-clinical.

Source: 

Heather Doherty, 541-737-3297

heather.doherty@oregonstate.edu

New $2.5 million grant will support training for Oregon teachers of English learners

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s College of Education will provide training for up to 80 Oregon teachers who work with students learning English under a new $2.5 million federal grant.

OSU is partnering with the Beaverton, Bend-La Pine, Springfield, Greater Albany and Corvallis school districts on the five-year project, which is being funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Language Acquisition. The first group of teachers will begin the program this summer. 

The goal of the program is to improve educational outcomes for students who do not speak English proficiently when they enter school; these students are considered English learners. English learners face an achievement and opportunity gap that means they are less likely to complete school and go on to higher education, said Karen Thompson, an assistant professor in OSU’s College of Education, who is leading the project. 

“Research has shown that English learners are typically taught by less qualified, less experienced teachers,” she said. “Teachers are asking for resources to teach English learners more effectively. This program works directly to make sure that teachers have the best possible preparation for working with this group of students.” 

The number of English learners in Oregon has grown dramatically over the last 20 years and now makes up about 10 percent of the state’s kindergarten- through 12th-grade population. But most Oregon teachers do not have specialized training or certification to work with English learners. The state only recently began requiring newly-licensed teachers to have some basic competencies for working with these students.

Teachers who participate in the new grant project will have the opportunity to earn either an endorsement for teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) or a dual-language specialization for teaching students in two languages, Thompson said. 

The grant funding will be used in part to cover teachers’ tuition. Teachers will take courses via Oregon State Ecampus, the university’s online education division. Each district will have a facilitator to provide support and hold in-person discussions with program participants.

The first group will focus on ESOL endorsements. Teachers in the second group, to begin in 2019, will have the option of the ESOL endorsement or the dual-language specialization. The dual-language specialization is under development by OSU faculty and would be among the first such program offered in the state of Oregon. 

“As dual-language programs gain popularity across Oregon and elsewhere, we’ve been making a concerted effort to position ourselves as leaders in the effective preparation of dual-language teachers,” Thompson said. “We want to be able to meet the needs of Oregon schools.”

The participating school districts will select teachers for the program based on their specific needs. A district might decide to focus on training middle school teachers, or focus on teachers in a specific school that offers dual-language education, Thompson said. 

A team of researchers also will study the effectiveness of the program and the courses throughout the grant period, with the goal of understanding how best to improve student outcomes and prepare more teachers to work with English learners.

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Karen Thompson, 541-737-2988, Karen.Thompson@oregonstate.edu

Lacking other meaningful data, university faculty devise their own teaching evaluation systems

CORVALLIS, Ore. – In the fast-growing and job-rich disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, improving instruction at the college level is critical to keeping students engaged in these fields.

But filling in bubbles on institutionalized end-of-term teacher evaluation questionnaires, a standard practice at many large research universities, often fails to produce timely and meaningful data for improving instruction, according to a new study from Oregon State University that explores how faculty are evaluating their teaching practice.

The researchers found that faculty teaching in the STEM disciplines at large research universities are devising their own systems to collect instructional data from their classrooms and using that data to inform their teaching.

Instructors are using quantitative data about their students’ classroom performance as well as qualitative data such as student feedback from mid-term surveys or informal conversations, said Jana Bouwma-Gearhart, an associate professor of science and mathematics education at OSU and lead author of the study.

 “Some faculty have really created these elaborate data and analysis systems, even though they are not yet required to,” said Bouwma-Gearhart, who also serves as an associate dean in OSU’s College of Education. “They are using these systems to talk about their instruction and to help inform decisions about programs and curriculum.”

The findings were published recently in the Journal of Higher Education Management. The research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

As universities continue to look at ways to improve student success, there is a growing emphasis in higher education for teaching faculty to be good educators who spend time developing and improving their skills in response to valid and reliable data. This may be particularly critical to retaining students in the STEM fields because students who struggle often opt to leave these disciplines altogether, Bouwma-Gearhart said.

In large enrollment universities –those with 15,000 or more students enrolled - many undergraduate courses in the STEM disciplines are taught by full- time educators who would likely be considered experts in that discipline.

However, Bouwma-Gearhart and colleagues found that instructors who teach these courses often lack access to structured or formal opportunities to reflect on meaningful data about their teaching beyond the typical end-of-term evaluations – the results of which often arrive too late; are too vague; and have too little student participation to be of much use.

Bouwma-Gearhart and co-author Matthew T. Hora, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, interviewed 59 STEM faculty and 20 administrators at large research universities. They wanted to know whether teaching faculty were using data to inform their teaching, and, if so, what kinds of data. They also wanted to better understand how educators are using data while in their classrooms.

“We found that faculty are gathering and responding to data, often using their own systems, and they are sometimes using it to advance their teaching in ways that go beyond what is required of them,” Bouwma-Gearhart said

Given the push from policymakers and education leaders toward more data-driven decision-making, documenting and understanding these real-world practices could ultimately lead to the design of more systematic data collection that is useful and helpful for faculty as well as administrators, she said.

 “People for the most part buy into the idea that data is good and that decision-making based on data is good,” Bouwma-Gearhart said. “But we also see that faculty need flexibility with respect to what kind of data is useful and how the data is used. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work when it comes to data to inform teaching practices.”

Bouwma-Gearhart said additional research is needed to better understand what motivates some faculty, more than others, to use data to inform their teaching practice. She is currently studying what factors may induce organizational changes related to instructional data use and teaching practice within departments, programs or institutions.

“We found that there is no lack of STEM faculty caring about their teaching or saying that data is ultimately relevant to evaluate and inform their teaching,” Bouwma-Gearhart said. “There is a rich conversation and effort underway. The question is how do we engage more faculty in meaningful conversations?”

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Jana Bouwma-Gearhart, 541-737-2206, Jana.Bouwma-Gearhart@oregonstate.edu

OSU, Beaverton School District develop new hybrid teacher licensure program

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A partnership between Oregon State University and the Beaverton School District will allow future teachers a unique opportunity to instruct K-5 students in the classroom through a new type of hybrid teacher licensure program. 

The masters of arts in teaching, or M.A.T. degree, with an option in “clinically based elementary program,” is a two-year, full-time master’s degree program that begins this fall. It will immediately immerse students in the classroom, where they will co-teach and work side-by-side with experienced Beaverton School District educators.

Frequently referred to as “Teach for Beaverton,” the program provides students the opportunity to actively engage with a cohort of peers while learning from faculty in the OSU College of Education. The program blends in-person classes with online course work, delivered by Oregon State Ecampus, a national leader in distance education.

“The program provides a powerful opportunity for future teachers,” said Matt Nyman, program coordinator and instructor. “They will benefit from the expertise of OSU College of Education faculty through course work, and the wisdom of practice from expert Beaverton School District teachers during two years of work in classrooms.”

Students who graduate from the program could enter the workforce with an advanced set of skills at a time when there is an increased demand for teaching professionals with master’s degrees in the Pacific Northwest, educators say.

The program’s collaborative learning environment enables students to hold a part-time job in the district during the first year and earn a salary while leading a classroom during the second and final year.

To meet the state and nationwide need for more teachers from underrepresented groups, the in-person portion of the program is based in Beaverton – near Portland, and one of the state’s most diverse cities with more than 90 languages spoken in area schools. It is designed for those who bring a rich diversity of cultures to their classrooms.

“We believe every student, regardless of background, deserves a great education every day of every year,” said Sue Robertson, chief human resource officer in the Beaverton School District. “And the key to a great education is a great teacher. We can make this a reality by fully supporting and preparing teachers to meet the needs of all students during their very first year of teaching.”

The curriculum of the 52-credit program include culturally literate education, teaching for social justice, and science and math topics. Specific course work includes teaching students with special needs, classroom management and K-5 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) integration.

Visit the Ecampus website for more information.

Media Contact: 

Heather Turner, 541-737-3297

Source: 

Matt Nyman, 541-737-1811

matt.nyman@oregonstate.edu