University of Dayton: Preparing to be FIP-ready

This week is the Spring OCTEO Conference, which brings together five Ohio teacher education organizations in higher education. One of many topics discussed will be preparing pre-service teachers. Mary Peters will be leading a FIP roundtable session on Thursday in Ballroom C from 2-3PM. 

In today’s engagement-driven culture, students are able to thrive in diverse learning environments, thanks to principles that place responsibility in the hands of the learner. We recently set out to collect examples of this within higher education, connecting with professors of Ohio colleges and universities that are using FIP modules in their curriculum.

This month, Patricia Morrison and I spoke with Dr. Connie Bowman, chair on the Department of Teacher Education at the University of Dayton. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Health Sciences. The University of Dayton has integrated FIP modules into several of their education classes, and we were curious how that process was impacting students and local schools involved in the student teaching program.

Nearly two years ago, Connie attended a Battelle for Kids and Ohio Department of Education workshop geared towards the higher education audience; this is where she first heard about the FIP modules. Her students were having difficulty in understanding formative assessment, and professors were looking for something to move them forward in their assessment classes. Connie and the professors decided to put FIP to the test. In the first year, professors used 2-3 modules to see how they could work them into their curriculum. The pilot program proved valuable, and the Adolescent to Young Adult Education (AYA) and Educational Field Office (EFO) started to use all of the Foundations of FIP modules.

The modules were originally used much like a textbook, and professors recognized that students needed more context and real-life application for validation. University of Dayton students do a six-week mini teaching where they teach for several classes and then come back to their coursework before going back out to student teach for 15 weeks. When students are back from their first venture into teaching, professors will pull up the FIP modules in class and have students participate to generate conversation. Using the modules after students have had a chance to be out in the classroom provides context for more rich conversation. Other times, students will complete the modules on their own time and come to the class with feedback, questions, and application examples. Once they get into their full student teacher experience, students have a better understanding of formative instructional practices, and they also understand the value of improving these practices to become a better teacher.  “Formative assessment now has a face and can be seen by these students as they prepare for their own classroom,” says Bowman.

Bowman shared that student teachers are coming back with incredible testimonials on the application of what they learned. She noted that they now understand what was being discussed in their assessment coursework. (We like to call that an “aha” moment.) Students noticed that many of their cooperating teachers had also taken the FIP modules as part of their professional development.  This is encouraging and validating to students, who are hearing from both professors and current teachers about the value of clear learning targets, effective feedback, evidence of learning, and student ownership of learning. But the University of Dayton is doing more than impacting pre-service teachers and college students. Some of the teachers that host student teachers are hearing about FIP through this process, and have even mentioned that they are learning from resources that UD students are receiving through the modules.

“When we send students out for field experiences and student teaching, we always hope they will see what they need to see to learn and grow, but there is no guarantee,” said Bowman. FIP has provided practical examples and guaranteed opportunity to discuss real-life scenarios and classroom experiences that students will have when they step foot into their own classrooms upon graduation. “We want them working with data teams. We want them to be prepared. Ultimately, we want our students to be great teachers.”

Higher education faculty of undergraduate and graduate students in educator preparation programs now have access to the following resources:

As we continue to talk with more professors and faculty, stay tuned for more stories surrounding FIP in higher education. For more information on how FIP can fit into your higher education program, click here.