ONLINE, COMPETENCY-BASED TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN SOCIAL SCIENCE, THE SCIENCES AND MATHEMATICS IN THE UNITED STATES: THE WESTERN GOVERNORS UNIVERSITY TEACHERS COLLEGE
Western Governors University (UNITED STATES)
Western Governors University (WGU) was founded fourteen years ago by the Governors of nineteen Western states in the United States in order to provide competency-based, online undergraduate- and graduate-level programs in teacher education, business, information technology, and the health professions to students living in predominantly rural areas of the Western United States. The WGU Teachers College currently enrolls approximately 13,000 students, more than 3000 of whom are matriculated in social science, science and mathematics teacher preparation programs. More than 2300 are matriculated in the mathematics and science programs. The University currently enrolls approximately 23,000 students. Most importantly, the University’s programs are all entirely online and competency-based, with the exception of pre-clinical and clinical experiences in teacher education and nursing.
In this paper, I will describe, in detail, the competency-based, online social science, mathematics and science teacher education curriculum and programs, which are among the largest secondary education teacher preparation programs in the United States. These programs are at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The focus will be on each of the following topics:
1. The social science, mathematics, and science content in these programs;
2. The pedagogical approach employed in the preparation of social science, mathematics and science teachers;
3. The competency-based curriculum of WGU in general;
4. The types of assessments used to measure candidates’ competency;
5. The Capstone Project and Teacher Work Samples required of all graduate students;
6. Pre-clinical and clinical experiences for secondary education candidates;
7. The Cohort Seminar, which is virtual and concurrent with the clinical experience;
8. The virtual learning communities;
9. The learning resources used for mathematics, the sciences, and social science;
10. The laboratory experiences, both digital and home-delivered, used in the science programs;
11. The Oral Defenses required of students in all graduate-level teacher education programs; and
12. Retention rates and graduation rates in the mathematics and science programs and a comparison of those rates with retention rates for other University teacher preparation programs.