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Part 3: Specific questions

This component was structured somewhat different than the first two components that assess mostly in a quantitative process the effectiveness of the program in terms of our major stated goals and COE dispositions. Firstly, the questions for this section vary from cohort to cohort (versus consistency for the first two components), depending on what issues we or the students identify as important to gather data to inform future decisions. Secondly, for this component in addition to collecting individual responses to the questions, we have the students first work in small groups to identify commonalities, and then discuss the responses to the questions as a whole group. In the whole group discussion we particularly focused on questions 5, and 7 – 8. Under each question I have summarized the conclusions for each question.

Questions for Cohort Nine

  1. Thinking of the MA program as a continuous journey, can you recollect and describe any key shifts, markers, or insights along the way that contributed to your growth and development?
  2. What key insights and understandings do you feel have made you a better teacher/professional? Person Note: The answers to these two questions were collected to be used as part of a more in-depth research project.
  3. What particular activities of the program were especially meaningful to you? A variety of answers were given; however, two were identified by more than half the students: (a) the weekend retreats at James Reserve and (b) the activities in EDUC 615, emphasizing using the arts to create meaning in the student’s personal and professional life. These two have been consistently identified by students as key since they were first implemented in the program.
  4. In an effort to continuously improve the quality of the program, in your opinion what might be some minor changes we should consider making? Major changes Note: Discussed in other portions of this document and the annual report.
  5. We would like to make our quarterly gatherings more inviting to former students. The present “generic” structure includes a 9 – 4 time frame; an opening welcoming session; a choice of three to five concurrent sessions for two 45 minute time slots in the morning; lunch in the area; a keynote speaker; an afternoon session usually including a follow-up session with the keynote speaker, a charter school group session and a session giving you an opportunity to discuss successes/problems in your professional context; and a short closing session. An optional short advisory board meeting is scheduled following the closing session. Is the present structure one that you find appealing (i.e., you would attend regularly)? What changes in the present structure/format would make the gatherings more appealing to you? Are there other changes that you believe would increase attendance by others? Most students indicated general satisfaction with the format of the gatherings. Some ideas that seem worth pursuing:
    • Conduct a survey with former students to gather data indicating what changes might make the gathering more inviting for them.
    • Provide the opportunity to earn extension credit for the gatherings.
    • Have focus groups for various interests during the lunch break
    • Having an opening session introducing the various sessions for the day.
  6. What additional activities or events that we would facilitate would you be interested in attending in order to continue and foster our relationship as a learning community? Explain. Note: Number of responses for each option in parentheses.
    • Summer teacher renewal weekend at James Reserve. (10)
    • Forming a small in person or online support group that meets regularly (e.g., once every two weeks, or once a month). (2)
    • Special projects (e.g. a service project in the community) (3)
    • Special events (e.g. guest speaker, ceremony, etc.) (2)
    • Cohort Reunion (7)
    • Travel Group (e.g., Costa Rica) (8)
    • Other?
  7. We are considering a different approach to the readings in the last two program courses -- having individuals or small groups select one of several books to read (versus everyone reading the same book), with some small or whole group processing to allow exposure to the books not read individually. Our thinking is that this may allow for better meeting individual needs, while also allowing exposure to more books (although not as in-depth for ones not read). Was the choice and sequencing of the readings for the program courses effective for you? In your opinion, would the proposed change work better? Other suggestions concerning readings? Explain. ​​​​​​​Summary: The students indicated that the books they read were effective and that we should keep a core of similar readings for future cohorts. They supported the proposed change to allow for more focused and individual readings in the last two courses. One idea was to assemble some compact relevant articles that could allow more exposure to different ideas (e.g., three articles versus one book).
  8. An important component in the curriculum concerned facilitating you developing a process to nourish your inner life and see the relationship of this process with the quality of your teaching. In general, was that component of the curriculum effective? Which activities, approaches or assignments for this component were either particularly effective or not effective? What changes do you believe might make this component more effective? ​​​​​​​Summary: In general, the students indicated much satisfaction with the component in the curriculum concerned with facilitating them developing a process to nourish their inner life, and see the relationship of this process with the quality of their teaching. Two suggestions:
    • Allow more time for the processing of related activities and assignments
    • Develop a more consistent emphasis throughout all six courses.