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Supporting Students Through the edTPA Process in Online Courses

Teresa Petty (UNC-Charlotte, USA)
Tina Heafner (UNC-Charlotte, USA)
Session Information
October 15, 2015 - 1:30pm
Student Services and Learner Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Northern Hemisphere E2
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 7

edTPA is a performance-based assessment designed to determine readiness of new teachers. This session describes the support online students receive to better understanding of edTPA.

Extended Abstract

edTPA is a performance-based assessment process designed by educators to determine whether new teachers are ready for the job. The use of edTPA in teacher licensure programs is growing as the process gains validity and reliability in determining the readiness of new teachers. Currently more than 30 states utilize edTPA in Teacher Education programs. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte made the decision to become involved in a pilot for edTPA implementation in North Carolina. As such, faculty began planning for integration of edTPA tasks in early coursework. Since edTPA is performance based and requires videotaping and analysis of teaching, integration of such tasks were not difficult in courses delivered face to face. The challenges arose in online courses with students geographically removed from the university.

Currently, UNC Charlotte has processes in place to provide effective clinical experiences and student teaching experiences for students in the online program. WiTL, Windows into Teaching and Learning, is a method used for clinical experiences. In partnership with local schools, UNC Charlotte utilizes web conferencing to offer students real-time clinical observations with debriefing sessions. This shared viewing experience has proven to be beneficial to both students and practicing teachers who are observed. ROGI, Remote Observations of Graduate Interns, is a process used to observe student teachers located in remote areas of the state. This innovative process allows for synchronous observations by university supervisors followed by debriefing sessions with the graduate interns.

When implementing edTPA, the following question had to be considered: What is different about edTPA for online programs? As unique attributes of edTPA learning in online environments do exist, approaches for implementation needed to be different than that of implementation in face to face (F2F) courses.

Different Tools
As consideration was given to effectively integrate edTPA tasks in online courses, we had to look at existing structures. In doing so, it was evident that the majority of faculty delivers content in an asynchronous manner. This requires individual motivation to engage with content. It necessitates thorough explanations of edTPA requirements via video. Detailed expectations of teacher candidates were also needed to set the stage for success in completing the edTPA portfolio.

As some faculty utilized synchronous meeting sessions with students, we looked at the use of our web conferencing tool, Saba. By integrating Saba sessions in courses, faculty were able to facilitate more interactive discourse with students and among students. Students were able to better collaborate with classmates and faculty. In this synchronous environment, students could share completed edTPA practice tasks with one another, offer feedback, and discuss ways to improve their teaching practice. As a result of the implementation of edTPA, we have experienced a pedagogical shift from asynchronous to synchronous with an online hybrid model serving as the ideal format.

Different Approaches
We have had to establish different approaches for sharing resources related to edTPA. For example, in F2F courses, faculty can share example videos with students so they can gain understanding of what is expected for this task. In an online environment, videos are shared through Saba via links to videos housed in secure Moodle sites. We have also established a common edTPA Moodle site for faculty that houses many materials that are protected by SCALE or involve privacy concerns for our students and their students. We collect, with permission, samples of tasks to share with our students from students who have previously gone through the edTPA licensure process. In addition, we initially created a common Moodle site for students in our online programs that housed all edTPA resources. As a result of its benefit, all students utilize the site which includes videos to explain all edTPA tasks, work samples, commentary, videotaping guides and lists of recommended tools.

Tiers of Learning and Applied Practice
Our online program coursework includes formative assessment opportunities in first semester coursework, content area methods, and student teaching. During the first semester, students take an instructional design course. In this course, they participate in online synchronous sessions to unpack edTPA rubrics. Students develop a learning segment for Task 1 of edTPA and participate in peer review where they engage in small group discussion via online synchronous sessions. This allows feedback from peers and the instructor. Students also take a reading across content areas course during the first semester. In this course, students participate in various activities to introduce the idea of academic language functions. These activities are complete asynchronously and synchronously.

During the content area methods course, students participate in online synchronous sessions to unpack Task 2 rubrics. They complete an analysis of teaching by videotaping themselves and critically examining their teaching practice. They work with their peers in online synchronous sessions to select a 10 minute segment of their video that addresses all required components of Task 2 for edTPA. During this course, students receive feedback from each other as well as their instructor.

Finally,the student teaching semester provides an opportunity for students to participate in seminar sessions that address all edTPA requirements and the final components needed for submission. During this course, synchronous sessions are held to review all rubrics and delve deeply into the criteria for each. The Moodle resource site is utilized heavily to examine sample learning segments and written commentary. Breakout rooms in Saba are used for students to discuss in samples and the score they think the candidate should receive. Students then create their individuals tasks. Synchronous sessions are provided for peer review. Students are grouped by content area and provide close reading of lessons and commentaries. They score these using edTPA rubrics and then discuss feedback during small group discussions via synchronous sessions.

The implementation of edTPA has caused us to rethink many of the practices that existed in our online courses. As a result, our courses now provide more synchronous sessions for students which allows for more discourse and collaboration. Faculty have learned more about teaching in an online environment as they work to engage students.