At the University of Mount Union, field experiences are valuable as our candidates prepare to enter the teaching profession. Throughout the field experience assignments, every effort is made to have candidates in placements which include students with exceptionalities and students from diverse ethnic/racial, linguistic, gender, and socioeconomic groups. Our graduates will have approximately 500 to 600 hours of field experiences. Our candidates begin their first field experience during the second semester of their freshman year in conjunction with ED 150W, Foundations of Education. This 30-hour field experience gives our candidates an opportunity to explore and to evaluate the mission to teach before enrolling in sophomore level courses. Most of the education courses have a field placement component which gives our candidates experiences in urban, suburban, and rural settings. It is our belief that our candidates must be immersed into the teaching arenas in order to observe, to teach, to reflect, and to experience excellent role models as they complete their field experiences. That is why our candidates begin their field placements the second semester of their freshman year. These candidates are able to observe their cooperating teachers’ methods, techniques, and strategies which will be beneficial as they prepare to enter the teaching profession. Candidates are expected to be active participants in their placements and to engage with the students in the classes. Our evaluations reflect performance-based assessments to determine how well our candidates have developed to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to assist all students to learn. Each course with a field placement component prior to preclinical practice (prestudent teaching) usually has a midsemester and/or final evaluation which is completed by the cooperating teacher and submitted to the classroom professor. Often times the classroom professor will require assignments which are coordinated with the field experience.
Preclinical practice (prestudent teaching) is usually completed during the fall of the senior year. Preclinical practice has a 90-hour requirement in designated classrooms. Each preclinical practitioner must complete a Preclinical Impact on Student Learning during the time the 10 lessons are taught during preclinical practice. This unit provides the opportunity for preclinical practitioners to implement value-added analysis and to do what good teachers do, using assessment as an essential element of lesson design, documenting where students are in their learning prior, during, and after instruction. Preclinical practitioners are assessed on their performances by qualified cooperating teachers and University supervisors.
Clinical practice (student teaching) is a 12-week experience usually completed during the spring semester of the senior year. Clinical practice is tailored to meet individual needs, interests, and skill levels of each clinical practitioner. Clinical practice allows clinical practitioners to apply and to reflect on their content, professional and pedagogical knowledge, skills, and dispositions in a variety of settings with students and adults. Performance-based assessments used in clinical practice indicate that candidates have met professional, state, and institutional standards and that they have had a positive effect on student learning. Clinical practitioners have an opportunity to do their clinical practice within a 35-mile radius of the University of Mount Union or opportunities to do the clinical practice with partnership schools in other parts of the United States as well as abroad. Some of the partner schools are: McCurdy School, Espanola in New Mexico, Red Bird Mission School in Beverly, Kentucky, The Pennington School in Pennington, New Jersey, Chicago, Illinois, and native American reservations. The University of Mount Union is a member of the Foundation for International Education. This consortium places clinical practitioners in Australia, England, Ireland, New Zealand, Wales, Costa Rica, and Taiwan. San Juan, Puerto, is available through United Methodist Schools.
In our preclinical and clinical practice placements, one of the placements must be in a diverse setting and the other in a nondiverse setting. Attention to diversity is considered in all field placement assignments. We recognize the implications this will have on our graduates’ awareness and knowledge for assisting students who have various diversities.