At the head of the unit’s governance structure is the Dean of the School of Professional Studies (SOPS) who assumes leadership for the overall direction, coordination, and development of programs and resources. She supervises the department chairs of education and psychology and counseling as well as the department chair of social work. The Department of Social Work is accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. Monthly SOPS Leadership Team meetings focus on program review, school initiatives, policies, and needs projections as evidenced in The Five Year Plan (titled Plan to Plan). These meetings are augmented with bi-weekly meetings between the dean and each department chair.
The unit organizational structure provides leadership for program delivery and assessment. The Chair of the Department of Education works directly with the Directors of Elementary Education, Secondary Education, Exceptional Needs and Field Placements. The Chair of School Counseling works with members of the Department of Psychology and the Department of Education. The Chairs of Education and Psychology and Counseling confer to ensure the integrity, coherence, and quality of all unit programs.
Program Directors coordinate with the Department Chair in program planning, delivery, and assessment. They ensure that major assessments align with the conceptual framework, state, and national standards. An example of program delivery coordination is direction provided by the Elementary Education Program Director to the instructor of Curriculum and Methods in Science, (EDUC 394), regarding appropriate community settings for the course activities. An example of change in delivery mode came from the Director of Exceptional Needs in the redesign of the post-baccalaureate Exceptional Needs Programs. On an annual basis the Director of Field Experiences is responsible for making more than 100 school placements with area school districts. Additionally, he orients cooperating teachers and student teachers and solicits feedback on program and candidate quality. Department meetings provide a context for initiating, planning and developing programmatic and procedural changes. As an example, at Department of Education meetings, faculty initiated discussions that led changes in the unit’s field assessment instruments.
The NCATE Steering Committee provides ongoing leadership and focus on the benchmarks of standards and best practice. The unit is committed to collaboration with other university units who provide support for the preparation of educators, providing a forum for open communication is the Teacher Education Committee (TEC). Membership includes all members of the Department of Education and representatives from each school with secondary education content majors. These schools are the School of Creative Arts (SOCA), the School of Arts and Sciences (SOAS), and the School of Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership (SOBEL).
The unit works with school partners through advisory councils. Three advisory councils contribute to program design, implementation and evaluation: the Teacher Education Advisory Council (TEAC), the Exceptional Needs Graduate Program Advisory Council (ENGPAC), and the School Counseling Program Advisory Council (SCPAC).
Candidates assist in coordination of educator preparation programs through representation on TEC. Finally, the unit, Office of Enrollment Management, Registrar, and Cougar Athletics readily communicate to ensure that practices in admissions, granting of financial aid, and retention efforts are effective, efficient, and equitable.
The unit adheres to the USF Affirmative Action Policy, which substantiates the university’s employment policies, practices, selection of students, and administration of programs, and is non-discriminatory regarding age, race, gender, disability, and national origin.
Open communication among School of Professional Studies (SOPS) departments and the university’s Office of Admissions and Office of Financial Aid promotes accuracy and currency of admissions publications. The Chair of the Department of Education and/or the Licensing Advisor attend an Office of Admissions meeting on an annual basis to update the admissions team on developments in the Department of Education’s programs. These meetings inform the Office of Admissions of changes that recruiting efforts align with the department’s goals. Also, throughout the year, the Admissions Office regularly schedules one-on-one meetings for new admissions counselors with the unit’s Licensing Advisor. On an annual basis, the Licensing Advisor reviews education-related admissions publications to make necessary corrections for new editions.
Initiatives directly involving unit faculty include recruitment visits to a local community college with which the unit has an Elementary Education articulation agreement and hosting urban high school visits on campus. Semi-annual Campus Visit Days are hosted by the unit’s faculty members and candidates. In lieu of “college fair” venues, the university and school focus more on value-added endeavors such as school/department visit days and developing communication channels with alumni.
The unit’s admissions requirements vary by program and program level. Subsequent to university admission, candidates must meet performance outcomes to progress through program transition points.
The USF Undergraduate Catalog (2005- 2007, 2007-2009, 2009-2010) and Graduate Catalog (2006-2008, 2008-2009, 2009-2010) provide general admission criteria and guidance for prospective and continuing students.
The University of Saint Francis’ official publications include the Undergraduate and Graduate Catalogs, Student Handbook, promotional brochures and advertisements, publications from the Office of Admissions and Office of Financial Aid, departmental and program information bulletins, literary publications, and athletic event materials. In general, official university publications, in both hard copy and electronic format, are developed collaboratively with the Director of Marketing and reviewed by appropriate offices and departments before publication. Each dean and department chair has the opportunity to be involved in the development, review and distribution process and to evaluate materials for currency and accuracy.
The SOPS Dean, in conjunction with department chairs and program directors, ensures that handbooks and grading policies are accurate and current. An annual review of all materials is conducted to update materials. The unit has significantly reduced hard copy prints, while increasing the use of the university’s electronic portal, Cougar Connection.
The unit ensures that candidates have information pertinent to student services through individual contact with faculty, from flyers, campus bulletin boards, Access TV, class announcements, group broadcasts, and announcements posted on Cougar Connection and the university website.
Candidates are assigned faculty advisors. Secondary education candidates have had two advisors, one in the appropriate content area and the other in education. This promotes clarity of program expectations among advisors and candidates and ensures accuracy of program progression. Advisors are aware of support services on campus and direct candidates to appropriate resources. Results of the 2007 Noel Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) confirms that baccalaureate candidates are satisfied with advising from faculty. Moreover, survey data from alumni have indicated positive perceptions of the advising process.
Following each semester’s regular registration, the Director of Retention sends each department a list of current students who have not registered for the upcoming semester. These candidates are then contacted by their advisors to inquire about their registration status.
To further the communication process, the Department of Education’s Candidate Advancement Committee (CAC) was instituted during the 2008-2009 academic year. The purpose of the CAC is to assist candidates to be successful during the teacher education program.
University-wide, the Student Academic Support Services (SASS) provides a host of academic support services and can refer candidates/students to social-emotional counseling services both on and off campus. Comprehensive information on advising and placement is accessible to candidates on the university portal, Cougar Connection. Praxis I and II preparation resources are housed in the SASS offices and in the Vann Library. On-campus tutoring is available for candidates who experience difficulty with the Praxis I.
The unit solicits input from the P-12 school partners through 3 advisory councils: Teacher Education Advisory Council (TEAC), Exceptional Needs Graduate Program Advisory Council (ENGPAC), and School Counseling Program Advisory Council(SCPAC). Council members are selected on the basis of recommendations from peer professionals, school administrators, unit faculty, alumni, and may self-nominate. The unit draws members from among area public and parochial schools, across grade levels, and from diverse populations.
Examples of professional partner input include revisions of field experience and clinical evaluations and participation in the re-design of the conceptual framework.
Campus constituents are involved with the unit’s programs on a formal basis through the Teacher Education Committee. Additionally, the unit receives baccalaureate candidate input through informal communication, ad hoc task forces, and Educators in Action (EIA). These groups participated in the redesign of the conceptual framework’s knowledge, skills, and dispositions during 2008 and 2009.
The unit facilitates communication and collaboration from other academic units involved in the preparation of professional educators through formal consultation at monthly Teacher Education Committee (TEC) meetings, through academic guidance from university-wide Academic Council, Graduate Council, and General Education Committee.
The overarching purpose of TEC is to facilitate communication between the faculty of the Department of Education with faculty representing secondary education content areas from the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Business and Entrepreneurial Leadership, and Creative Arts who are equally responsible for the preparation of educators. TEC reviews and approves major changes in baccalaureate-level programs before proposed changes move to Academic Council and the full Faculty Forum. The Director of School Counseling participates on the unit’s leadership team, attends department meetings on an as-needed basis and collaborates with the unit’s post-baccalaureate Exceptional Needs Program.