Field experiences are designed to deliberately expand and challenge personal and professional attitudes while providing personal and professional growth opportunities for prospective teachers. Observation and first-hand experience within community agencies and P-12 settings provide prospective teachers with information and tools that complement classroom study and assist in the development of pedagogical skills, knowledge, and dispositions necessary for effective teaching.
What is Field Experience?
Field experiences involve activities done outside of class time to enhance the content being taught in that course. It can include observing in a classroom setting, tutoring students, reading to students, attending a school board meeting, interviewing teachers, volunteering in a community agency such as a Boys and Girls Club, or working with special needs children in a supervised setting. Field experiences also include Internship I and Internship II. If a course has a required field experience component, it will be listed clearly in the course syllabus.
Arkansas Law Regarding Child Abuse
According to Arkansas law, any person with cause to suspect child maltreatment, or who observes a child being subjected to conditions or circumstances that would reasonably result in child maltreatment must immediately notify the Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-482-5964). Maltreatment is defined as either abuse or neglect. Teachers are considered by law as mandated reporters.
Policies Governing Field Experiences in the College of Education
Placement decisions are based upon availability of qualified supervisory personnel, range of experiences needed by the candidate, and recommendations from university faculty, district personnel officers, principals, and other candidates. Placements are generally determined by the range of grade levels required in the candidate’s program and by the site agreements with particular public schools; therefore, candidates may not request specific school placements and are never allowed to make their own arrangements for placement. Furthermore, candidates may not be placed in any school their children attend, nor where family members are employed. Candidates may not be placed in the high school from which they graduated for any early field experience placement. Once placements are made, no changes will be made unless deemed necessary by the Coordinator of Field Experience or other instructors. (All policies in this handbook may or may not apply to EDUC 1300 concurrent credit courses taught on area high school campuses.)
The UCA College of Education requires that all candidates have experiences with P-12 students of diverse populations including students with exceptionalities, English Language Learners, students from various ethnic backgrounds, and students from various socioeconomic groups. Therefore, candidates will be assigned to a variety of placement sites while in the teacher education program. Every effort will be made to seek multiple types of placement sites such as urban, rural, and suburban school sites for candidates as well. Candidates are required to document these placements and their experience with various diverse populations. Toward the end of each semester I which candidates are enrolled in a field course, they will receive an e-mail with a link to an online survey where they can document their field placement demographic data. This e-mail will be sent to candidates’ UCA e-mail address. It is important that candidates’ check their UCA e-mail frequently. For directions on how to forward your UCA e-mail to another e-mail account, click here.
Candidates will sign a waiver while enrolled in EDUC 1300, Education as a Profession. This waiver releases all faculty, the College of Education, and the University of Central Arkansas, and those associated with the university—including cooperating teachers from any lawsuit. Each student must sign this waiver before further course work can be pursued.
It is the candidate’s responsibility to provide the mentor teacher with the attendance form to initial at each visit. The time the observation began and ended should be clearly noted. At the end of each field experience, the candidate will give the attendance form, along with an envelope, to the mentor teacher. The mentor teacher will fill out the evaluation portion located at the bottom of the attendance form and put it in the envelope. The mentor teacher will seal the envelope and sign across the seal. It is the responsibility of the candidate to return the attendance form, with the evaluation portion filled out by the mentor teacher, to the UCA instructor by the date determined. (P-4 junior/senior block use alternate forms. In some courses, it is not required that mentor teacher fill out the evaluation portion of the attendance form.)
Basic Candidate Responsibilities While in the Field
It is the responsibility of the candidate to complete all field experience hours associated with a course. If the field experience hours are not completed, an “X” grade will be given for the course until the field hours are complete. The candidate has one semester from the time the “X” grade is given to complete the field hours, after that, the “X” grade is recorded as a failing grade (“F”) for the course. A candidate must have a “C” or better in all major and professional education course work to graduate from the program.
Remediation and Removal
If a candidate fails to exhibit professional conduct while in the field, or exhibits weaknesses that could later hinder his/her professional performance in the classroom and this is noted on an evaluation form by a mentor teacher, or noted by two or more instructors, a Notice of Need for Remediation can be completed. This will be completed by the instructor of the course, another instructor, the Coordinator of Field Experience, and the candidate. A copy will be sent to the program coordinator and advisor. At this time, an improvement plan will be created and future actions will be discussed if improvements are not made. The Coordinator of Field Experience will be responsible for following up on all improvement plans on the middle/secondary level. The appropriate instructor or Coordinator of P-4 Early Field Placements will follow up the improvement plans on the P-4 level.
A candidate may be removed from a field experience when any of the following occurs:
1. The appropriate school authority can demonstrate that the candidate’s presence in the classroom is not in the best interest of the students.
2. The candidate’s appropriate university authority can demonstrate that a candidate’s skill level either prevents the development or maintenance of a satisfactory learning environment in the field placement.
3. The candidate exhibits unprofessional or unethical behavior.
4. The candidate cannot achieve a satisfactory grade in a field experience course.
A grade of “F” will be assigned with or without the opportunity for re-enrolling in the course at a future time.
Appeals of Retentions and Removals
If a candidate so desires, he/she may submit a formal appeal of a remediation or removal decision. In such a situation, a candidate can only initiate an appeal after seeking resolution with the program’s department chair. An appeal must be based on exceptional and extenuating circumstances and other pertinent information not previously available or considered. A formal appeal must be submitted in writing to the Dean of the College of Education (COE) within five business days of being notified of remediation or removal status. The COE Dean will transmit the appeal to the Standard 1 Standing Committee. The candidate may appeal to the COE Dean, in writing, within five business days of the committee’s decision. The candidate may appeal to the Provost, in writing, within five business days of the Dean’s decision.