University of Southern Indiana

Sequence for Reflective Practitioner Program

Masterssequence 01 

Exploration Phase

Exploration Small
During the exploration phase of graduate coursework at USI, candidates are asked to meet with their faculty advisor to review program requirements.
21 hours of coursework are required to move from the exploration phase of the program to the analysis phase.
Candidates are required to complete at least 15 of the 21 hours in the exploration phase at USI, with at least 12 hours required from Teacher Education courses. Candidates may apply for candidacy after 18 - 21 hours of coursework.
Core Areas - Reflective Teacher Researcher Model
Teacher education requirements center on four core areas of the Reflective Teacher Researcher Model. Mandatory completion of courses from these four areas (based on five core principles of the NBPTS, as well as the NCATE emphasis on diversity) is a critical component of completion of the exploration phase. Candidates must take at least 1 course from the following categories:
    • Human Development (HD) - Courses in human development examine changes in human beings' biological, social, cognitive, and emotional behavior from conception until death. Such lifelong processes and permanent change overtime often influence not only how students learn, but who learns based on the contexts of the environment. Patterns of growth, motivation, engagement within classroom environments, and the implications of culture and the individual are tools to understanding how humans develop.
    • Curriculum Theory (CT) - Curriculum theory refers to the transmission of knowledge, skills, and affective sets to others through formal and informal means. These courses examine the organization of schooling, as well as formal and informal educational environments. Curriculum as process, curriculum and context, modes of learning, and revisionist theories of modes of knowledge will be explored.
    • Social Foundations (SF) - Social Foundations courses explore questions about the nature, structure, and functions of schools; education and social justice; the nature and uses of knowledge; and conceptions of a worthy life. These courses are intended to introduce students to the methods and questions of philosophy, history, sociology, and anthropology as tools for investigating the work of teachers and the institutions of schools.
    • Advanced Instruction (AI) - Courses in advanced instruction develop reflective and analytical skills in candidates related to their practices as teachers. Much of this curriculum emphasizes the learning process, and how students are changed as a result of experience, how they apply what they learn in different contexts, and how they recognize and extend that learning to completely new situations. Modes of facilitating effective learning, transferring new knowledge and skills to appropriate contexts, creativity and innovation, and experiential education will be investigated.
Reflective Teacher Researcher Program Focus
Prior to this initial meeting between advisor and candidate, candidates should begin considering a focus for their studies. Foci that have been done previously include literacy, special education, early childhood education, technology, and secondary education content areas. The focus will be expected to comprise an area of interest to the candidate that has:
  1. Relevance to their classroom
  2. Furthers their professional growth, and
  3. Advances their skills as a practicing teacher.
Candidates who are interested in a more theory driven program can consider a focus of "research" that is distinct from practitioner's foci, and assists in advancing knowledge of formalized processes of knowing and practices related to the advancement of knowledge in education. This option could be particularly of interest for candidates interested in pursuing doctoral coursework at a later time.


Outcomes and Performances: Portfolio of Coursework Knowledge
Throughout the exploration phase, prospective candidates will be expected to develop a portfolio using artifacts they have created. The portfolio will be informed by the Reflective Teacher Researcher Model and by the professional standards associated with the prospective candidate’s Focus Area.


This portfolio should be comprised of self-selected documents reflecting the prospective candidate’s individuality, skills, and accomplishments in and out of the classroom as an inservice teacher. This portfolio’s organization expands upon the Beginning Teacher Assessment Program portfolio requirements and reflects the requirements set for National Board for Professional Teaching Standards licensure.
The portfolio should contain the following items (divided into the following sections):
  • Vita
  • Integrating Statement / Focus Area
  • Artifact demonstrating competence in the area of Human Development
  • Artifact demonstrating competence in the area of Curriculum Theory
  • Artifact demonstrating competence in the area of Social Foundations
  • Artifact demonstrating competence in the area Advanced Instruction
Items such as lesson plans, anecdotal records, student projects, class newsletters, videotapes, pictures, evaluations, letters of recommendations, etc. are called artifacts. Artifacts are an essential part of the portfolio because they document the prospective candidate’s abilities to meet particular standards. Prospective candidates will need to identify at least one artifact that demonstrates their understanding of each of the four foundational areas of the graduate program (Human Development, Curriculum Theory, Social Foundations, and Advanced Instruction).
In the Integrating Statement, the prospective candidate will discuss how work in the foundational areas has contributed to the development of a Focus Area, an emphasis in the graduate work that will continue to be explored at the Analysis Level of the program.
Overall, the portfolio has these aims:
  1. to demonstrate competence in the foundational areas
  2. to identify a Focus Area (and show how the foundational work has contributed to an understanding of the Focus Area), and
  3. to project a likely direction for future coursework and research.

Preparation of a portfolio should begin when a prospective candidate has completed 15 hours of graduate work, and must be completed and approved before a prospective candidate can proceed beyond 21 hours.
Portfolios will be presented to a committee of three faculty who review the exploration phase performance. Candidacy will only occur when the prospective candidate has successfully presented an exploration phase portfolio.
Knowledge of Human Development Knowledge of Curriculum Theory Knowledge of Social Foundations Knowledge of Advanced Instruction
Candidate information and artifact strongly support knowledge of human development. Candidate demonstrates knowledge of changes in human beings’ biological, social, cognitive, and emotional behavior from conception until death. Candidate describes importance of each piece of information to understanding human development as it relates to teaching. Candidate information and artifact strongly support knowledge of curriculum theory. Candidate demonstrates knowledge of the relationship of curriculum to the construction of knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Candidate describes importance of each piece of information to the processes of developing curriculum and curriculum’s relationship to the context of the school. Candidate information and artifact strongly support knowledge of social foundations. Candidate demonstrates knowledge of the nature, structure and function of schools. Candidate articulates the parallels between education and social justice. Candidate describes the role of democracy in teaching and in the context of diverse school settings. Candidate information and artifact strongly support knowledge of advanced instruction. Candidate reflects upon and analyzes skills related to teaching. Candidate articulates the learning process and how students change as a result of experiential learning.

Integrating Statement
Identifies Focus Area:
Candidate selects an Area of Focus consistent with needs for professional development. The candidate discusses any concerns associated with choice of focus area. Candidate shows ability to link coursework and experiences to focus area.
Demonstrates Connection to Foundational Work:
Candidate describes value of specific foundational experiences and explains application of course work to practice. Candidate summarizes relationship between foundational work and focus area.
Candidate Projects a Likely Direction for Future Course Work:
Candidate evaluates projected course of study and chooses course work relevant to their Area of Focus. Candidate chooses course work that supports development of knowledge, skills, concepts, and dispositions necessary for their future inquiry.

Analysis Phase

Analysis SmallDuring the analysis phase of graduate coursework at USI, candidates begin the work of further analyzing and developing their program foci. 9 hours of course work are required during the analysis phase of the program. In order to be formally considered a Master’s candidate, candidates should have completed candidacy forms and presented their Exploration Phase candidacy portfolios. The analysis phase of the program emphasizes preparation of candidates for performance of teacher action research related to their themes and classroom practices.

Research Focus - Reflective Teacher Researcher Model
Teacher education requirements during the exploration phase center on four core areas of the Reflective Teacher Researcher Model (Advanced Instruction, Social Foundations, Human Development, and Curriculum Theory). During the analysis phase, these four themes are further developed as candidates are introduced to the concept of teacher action research and the advanced reflective analysis of their pedagogical skills.
Candidates complete three courses during this phase of the program:
  • 601 Research in Education (3)
    Introduces the field of educational research. The course emphasizes the understanding of quantitative and qualitative research, teacher action-research, and the evaluation of research reports.
  • 631 Analysis of Instruction (3)
    Analyzes recent research literature regarding the improvement of instruction. Students examine research articles eacher reflection, teacher effectiveness, cooperative learning, designing instruction to meet the needs of different learning styles, instruction to promote student constructions of meaning, instructional processes leading to portfolio assessment. Students write a review of literature in a chosen area.
  • Final elective class related to teacher action research theme (3).
Outcome for Analysis Phase - Teacher Action Research Prospectus Presentation
The coursework at the analysis phase of Master’s programming will culminate in the creation of a prospectus presentation related to the candidate’s teacher action research project. This project is completed as a final outcome of Education 631, Analysis of Instruction. The presentation will represent an individual candidate’s organization and understanding of course-related and professional development knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to their action research topic.

The prospectus is of a specified format, requiring candidates to create a 6 slide power point with the following information:
Slide 1 - Title, Name, Site of Research
Slide 2 - Research Question
Slide 3 - Pertinent information from literature review
Slide 4 - Method
Slide 5 - Subjects
Slide 6 - General findings to date
Slide 7 - Relevance to teaching and classroom
The prospectus study topic will be presented to a committee of three (which require at least two faculty, one of whom must be the faculty teaching the Synthesis phase Education 674 course during the candidate’s final term) to be chosen by the candidate to review their performance.

Completion of the synthesis phase will only occur after the candidate has:
  1. completed 30 hours of coursework, and
  2. successfully presented their analysis phase teacher action research prospectus.

Synthesis Phase

Synthesis SmallRequired:
EDUC 671 - Integrating Research Seminar in Secondary Education
EDUC 674 - Integrating Research Seminar in Elementary Education
Course Description
A culminating research-oriented seminar that integrates professional knowledge and professional skills. Students conduct a school-based research project, based on professional literature, and write a research report. Includes a supervised field experience.
Course Overview
This course involves action research. It is the culminating course in the master’s degree program. Each student completes a research project and prepares a written report. Students also present the results of their research to the class. The course includes analysis of selected research reports in terms of 1) indicators of quality in school-based research and 2) examples of research that affects elementary school curriculum. Students also show connections between their teaching practice and educational research.
This course will enable students to:
  1. Formulate and state questions that can be addressed through action research.
  2. Identify procedures and information needed to answer questions related to elementary education.
  3. Use professional literature to obtain information pertaining to research questions.
  4. Obtain and organize information to answer a research question.
  5. Describe indicators of quality in educational research.
  6. Identify research studies that meet quality indicators and inform practice in elementary education.
  7. Demonstrate application of research-based teaching practices in their classrooms
  8. Write a research report in clear, concise language.
  9. Explain results of a study to a group of peers.
  10. Evaluate published research in terms of criteria for judging quality research.
Relationship of course to program model
EDUC 671/674 is the culminating course of the master’s degree program. Through emphasis on applications of educational research, evaluation of research studies, and analysis of classroom practice in terms of research-based approaches, teachers act as “reflective teacher researchers.” Through conducting their own research and analyzing results of studies, they construct knowledge. Through exploration of the controversial and inconclusive nature of selected educational research, teachers demonstrate application and understanding of multiple perspectives on research, educational practice, and current issues in education.
Textbooks (on reserve at Rice Library)
Burnaford, G., Fischer, J., & Hobson, D. (2001) Teachers Doing Research. NJ: Erlbaum.
McMillan, J. H. & Wergin, J. F. (2002). Understanding and evaluating educational research, 2nd ed. Columbus, Ohio: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Selected Topics for Discussion
  1. Overview of educational research (review)
  2. Stating the research question
  3. Designing and managing a study
  4. The classroom and school as a research laboratory
  5. Writing a research report
  6. Identifying research that informs teaching practice
  7. Understanding and evaluating research reports
Disability Rights
If any member of the class believes that s/he has a disability, please advise the instructor of the desired accommodations and provide written documentation as soon as possible. The instructor will work with you and the staff of the Disability Support Services to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure that you have a fair opportunity to perform and participate in the class.
Course Requirements
A major course requirement is to formulate a research question, design and conduct a study to answer the question, and write a report of the study. Additionally, seminar students will attend class, contribute to the seminar sessions, and present results of their research in the seminar. This project will be 100% of your grade.
Students will begin the semester by writing a two or three-page report of some aspect of the curriculum in their classrooms that they have modified based on their learning in the Master’s degree program. They will describe the change, discuss results of the change in terms of student learning, and give a reflective evaluation of the experience. This assignment addresses the requirement of supervised field experience.
Students will read published research results and make judgments about the quality of research and the validity of conclusions and recommendations.
Article Format

Submit your final project—article and abstract—in paper and electronic formats. Electronic versions may be emailed or submitted on a diskette. The paper will be returned via U.S. mail. No binders, please. All articles will be written in APA format and will be prepared so that by the end of the semester they are ready to be considered for publication.


Outcomes and Performances: Teacher Action Research

What is Action Research?
Action Research is a process in which participants examine their own educational practice systematically and carefully using the techniques of research.  It is based on the following assumptions:
  • Teachers and principals work best on problems they have identified for themselves;
  • Teachers and principals become more effective when encouraged to examine and assess their own work and then consider ways of working differently;
  • Teachers and principals help each other by working collaboratively;
  • Working with colleagues helps teachers and principals in their professional development.
- Heidi Watts, Antioch Graduate School

What Action Research Is Not
  • It is not the usual things teachers do when they think about their teaching. Action Research is systematic and involves collecting evidence on which to base rigorous reflection.
  • It is not just problem-solving. Action Research involves problem-posing, not just problem-solving. It does not start from a view of problems as pathologies. It is motivated by a quest to improve and understand the world by changing it and learning how to improve it from the effects of the changes made.
  • It is not research on other people. Action Research is research by particular people on their own work to help them improve what they do, including how they work with and for others. Action Research does not treat people as objects. It treats people as autonomous, responsible agents who participate actively in making their own histories by knowing what they are doing.
  • It is not the scientific method applied to teaching. Action Research is not just about hypothesis-testing or about using data to come to conclusions. It is concerned with changing situations, not just interpreting them. It takes the researcher into view. Action Research is a systematically-evolving process of changing both the researcher and the situations in which he or she works. The natural and historical sciences do not have this aim.

Reasons to Do Action Research
What works...
  • To figure out a particular "how to" of teaching
  • To demonstrate to principals, parents, students, ourselves that a teaching practice is useful
  • To have time to talk about teaching with our colleagues
  • To develop better overall relationships with our colleagues
Personal/Professional Development...
  • To be supported and pushed in our development as teachers
  • To recognize that growth doesn't just happen, that often we need more formal structures in order to grow
  • To enable teachers to engage in intellectual pursuits and become continuous learners
Starting where we are...
  • To start with the teacher that I am, not that someone else thinks I should be
  • To practice being a continuous learner, to live by what I am trying to help my students learn
  • To connect teachers in different roles, schools, districts
Challenging the norm...
  • To create new forms of professional development
  • To create new forms of research
  • To construct knowledge with teachers at the center

Contact Dr. Bonnie Beach


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