Faculty are qualified and model best professional practices in scholarship, service, and teaching including the assessment of their own effectiveness as related to candidate performance; they also collaborate with colleagues in the disciplines and school. The unit systematically evaluates faculty performance and facilitates professional development.
5.1 Faculty Qualifications, Performance, and Development
5.1 a Qualified Faculty
Faculty members in the School of Education are licensed in the areas in which they teach. As a part of the screening process for hiring, potential faculty is first qualified by the Human Resources office. Resumes are then posted for the Search committee(s), and only those who meet the requirements for the position(s) are invited for further consideration. The process includes, but is not limited to, reading documentation related to the potential faculty member, meeting regarding ‘best fits’, telephone interviews, and in-person on-site visits to the University campus. The potential faculty is asked questions based on a standardized format, decided upon by the committee, and approved by Human Resources. The Dean is then presented with two-three ‘finalists’, as appropriate, and collaborates with the Provost’s office in making an offer. This process ensures qualified personnel are invited to serve on the faculty.
Clinical faculty members are conversant with the schools in the region. In addition to observations, the faculty members visit and meet with the principal(s) and the collaborating teacher. Also, most of the clinical faculty members are invited, and present in the local school district professional development activities. The University is also involved in the P-16 Collaborative, an initiative that brings together school personnel with University faculty. For example, one meeting, attended by members of the committee was on the topic of the National Common Core Standards, adopted by the local district.
Members of the clinical faculty have participated in school-based Spelling Bee, annually, as judges, or callers, as well as in committees convened by the school district for the purpose of developing and writing proposals, and obtaining grants for teacher professional development and district-wide initiatives.
5.1 b Modeling Best Professional Practices in Teaching
The conceptual framework promotes excellence in scholarship, leadership and knowledge. Faculty is kept abreast of developments in the field of education through membership in Professional organizations, periodicals and journal articles, webinars, and professional development offered both in and outside of the University. Courses and syllabi objectives are broad enough to include updated information in all areas of education. Research articles and projects are required by students, and facilitated by faculty in class discussions.
Faculty meetings are often centered on discussions of key concepts that are important to the students in the School of Education, including the attributes of ‘best practices’ among teachers. The discussion may be based on a rubric designed to identify and measure the success of the teaching.
Faculty members’ model differentiated instruction, team-building, scaffolding, developing graphic organizers to impart and discuss information, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, integrating technology with teaching, and enhancing literacy across the content areas. In addition, as part of the community, faculty members’ model involvement with programs that contribute to the greater whole and utilizing the information gained through the experience in making ‘text-book’ knowledge relevant to real-life situations. Finally, research is modeled through engaging students in active projects based on looking at data-driven results and that which leads to greater understanding of processes.
The classrooms used by the School of Education are equipped with technology. Faculty incorporates the use of power-point presentations, videos and films, audio-tapes, and radio in their instruction. New additions to the classroom are Promethean Boards for the use of faculty for training teaching candidates to incorporate technology into their lessons. This is critical to preparing the teachers in the region, who currently have this technology available to them in most classrooms. Video-conferencing is also used to teach across campuses, and often includes visuals displayed on the adjoining screen.
In addition to evaluations done by candidates on teaching faculty, faculty must, as part of their Record of Activities (ROA) write reflections on their own teaching. This may or may not be based on the student evaluations, but is often a result of a combination of the Dean’s evaluation, the Chair’s evaluation, and student evaluations, which provide a background for the perceptions of others – directly related to self-reflection. Professional development also often leads to revelations of practices that provide opportunities for self-reflection, as well.
5.1 c. Modeling Best Professional Practices in Scholarship
Faculty is expected to participate in University reports and documentation, i.e. the Strategic Plan, the Periodic Review Report, etc. In addition, action research in the classroom is encouraged through advisement of thesis and independent studies, as well as through other University activities. Faculty is encouraged to publish, and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), is most often practiced by School of Education faculty. More prominent, however, is the presentation of workshops, papers, and poster presentations that have characterized the faculty participation in scholarly activities for many years.
Faculty are involved in Territory-wide publications, as committee members, i.e. the Territory Literacy Plan (one member of SOE, one from another college within the University), the Territory-wide S.T.E.M. plan (two members of the SOE faculty, four from another college), the Early Childhood Education Success by Grade 3 Proposal and plan (two members of the SOE faculty). In addition, two SOE faculty members are involved in the Faculty Assessment Learning Community (FALC), and initiative to enhance awareness and develop consistency among assessment tools University-wide.nbsp; Faculty members have participated in the University Forum, as well as Research Day to display scholarly work.
5.1 d. Modeling Best Professional Practices in Service
Faculty participates in advisement, for all candidates at the beginning and end of the semester, and for assigned candidates throughout the school year. No less than seven (7) hours of office time per week is devoted to advisement and other administrative tasks. Also, as part of the University community, faculty is expected to attend programs, participate in University-wide events as a unit, and maintain a presence in community-based programs and activities. As part of the Record of Activities, and tenure-seeking, service to the community may be demonstrated through key roles and voluntary participation in walk-a-thon’s, attending fund-raisers for non-profit programs, and organized efforts in educational projects.
Service activities which are related to organizations and professional initiatives include, but are not limited to: the “Sisters with Purpose” initiative to provide for female students and others in the youth community a forum for discussions, grooming, career counseling, bonding activities, support systems, etc. At least two (25% of the faculty is involved in this initiative). Others (25%) are involved in youth sports programs in the community, including basketball, boating, soccer, and other games-related sports. At least 25% (2) of the faculty is involved in youth activities through a church-based or community group. Others have volunteered (50%) in special events devoted to recruitment and retention of students and youth – encouraging them to access campus life and activities. These activities include UVI on the Green in St. Thomas, and the Agricultural Fair in St. Croix. Three members (33%) have volunteered in the Brothers with a Cause initiative designed to promote college as an option for inner-city male youth.
5.1 e. Unit Evaluation of Professional Education Faculty Performance
Faculty are evaluated on at least three levels: student evaluations are solicited and calibrated each semester (2 per year); the Chair’s yearly evaluation based on observations and interviews with the faculty member for improvement; the Dean’s evaluation is based on the student’s evaluation, the Chair’s evaluation, and the Record of Activities submitted on an annual basis. The Dean’s evaluation however is twice per year, or once per semester.
Tenure-track faculty is evaluated by the University-wide faculty evaluation committee, for recommendations for contract renewal, promotion, and/or retention. Tenured faculty must submit a professional plan per annum, to outline projects, research initiatives, and plans for scholarly activity.
The Faculty Policy Manual, provided to each faculty member upon hiring and orientation, outlines the guidelines by which tenure, promotion, evaluations, and other processes will be conducted.
Evaluations are addressed on more than one level. The Dean often recommends professional development to faculty based on the needs of the School of Education. Faculty has attended NCATE conferences, AACTE conferences, UTeach, and other professional meetings for the purpose of enhancing our knowledge base, and maintaining contemporary practices and information. On the campus, there is on-going implementation of professional development for individual faculty.
For example, the Chair, in doing observations, often uses as a guideline the comments made by students in evaluations. If students suggested that the teacher “was not giving adequate direction”, the Chair would specifically address this in observation and comment. In addition to the unit’s assessments of strengths and weaknesses, recommendations for Faculty Institute– which is professional development University-wide are made by faculty from each unit for inviting relevant presenters and consultants. A portion of the Faculty Institute time is also devoted to each unit’s needs and specific meeting agendas.
5.1 f. Unit Facilitation of Professional Development
Faculty in the School of Education are ‘seasoned’, experienced teachers, with 50% of the faculty having no less than 10 years in the field of school-based education , and/or 20 years in University teaching (50%). Professional development has been through up-dating teaching practices to alignment with assessment, as well as research-based strategies introduced at workshops and conferences attended by faculty. The University has provided forums and speakers, as well, who specifically target ‘best practices’ in the field of teaching and learning.
A great deal of the professional development in the SOE has involved preparation for accreditation through attention to conceptual framework, student/candidate expectations, awareness and integration of Specialized Professional Association (SPA) standards, and developing consistent rubrics for assessment and reporting purposes.
Faculty participates in at least two – four on-campus professional development activities during the school year. There is a Faculty Institute at the end of each semester, and during Convocation there is usually a guest speaker to impart vital information related to our student population. This provides data for specific planning to address student needs. In addition, during monthly faculty meetings, there is often a report from a faculty member who has attended a seminar, conference, or professional meeting outside of the University. Faculty members, as part of University committees, such as Curriculum, Academic Standards, Catalog, Clinical experiences, etc. report to the faculty on updated information regarding student achievement and matriculation.
5.2 b Moving Toward Target or Continuous Improvement
5.2 b. Continuous Improvement
For the past four plus years the unit has been focused on the process of earning accreditation. In this regard, the unit has worked extremely well in including everyone, in and outside of the unit, in discussions, activities, development of materials, and reflection on practices and policies. Moreover, the candidates are more closely viewed as representative of the ‘product’ that will ultimately define the unit’s success in providing quality teacher education. The School of Education in the USVI is an extremely visible entity in the Territory’s educational system, on committees, and in presenting and consulting. Also, the interdisciplinary nature of the SOE curriculum has been extremely positive in creating strong alliances with other colleges and schools within the University.
Currently, the unit is involved in utilizing assessment tools to further refine the alignment between course objectives and rubrics. This work is being done both within the unit, and also by the Faculty Assessment Learning Community. The research will be on-going for the next few semesters, and should result in a more cohesive data-driven curriculum, directly related to goals and objectives set forth by the licensing body (PRAXIS II), and the educational community.
Overview & Conceptual Framework
Standard 1: Knowledge, Skills, & Professional Dispositions
Standard 2: Assessment System & Unit Evaluation
Standard 3: Field & Clinical Practice
Standard 4: Diversity
Standard 5: Faculty
Standard 6: Unit Governance & Resources