Initial Teacher Program Clinical Practices

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) College of Education (COE) programs take seriously the clinical experiences of initial program candidates as they seek to establish their teaching credentials. Clinical experiences are an integral component of the initial education program curriculum, and are required of all students in the COE initial licensure programs.

All COE initial licensure programs acknowledge the critical importance of developing candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions. To that end, the COE initial licensure programs have unified to create guidelines for initial program clinical practices. Based on these guidelines, programs can tailor clinical experiences for candidates based on the program’s unique identity, foci, and purpose.

As a college, the initial programs are committed to promoting every educator’s sense of professional efficacy. Professional efficacy affects an educator’s sense of responsibility and competence to contribute to the growth and development of all learners and is grounded in:

  • guided clinical experiences with diverse students in diverse settings,
  • collaborative learning communities,
  • authentic assessment and reflective decision making,
  • professional integrity including leadership, collaboration, and service.

Clinical experiences for initial programs focus on the abilities of faculty and candidates to convey, develop, critically examine, and apply knowledge to advance educational practice in order to promote social, cultural, and economic justice for the development of all P-12 students.  This work should focus on authentic problems of practice central to the intended licensure area and the educator roles associated with these licenses. Candidates have the right to be directly guided and supported in this work by both provider- and school-based clinical educators.

The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) require colleges and universities offering accredited education degrees to provide students educational instruction and opportunities to support them in developing the knowledge, skills, and dispositions aligned with their intended area of licensure. The inclusion of required clinical experiences in the CAEP standards are contained in Standard/Components 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 (see Appendix A).

UCA COE Initial Licensure Programs.

The UCA COE has multiple programs supporting candidates seeking advanced licensure. These programs include:

Department of Elementary, Literacy, and Special Education (ELSE)
  • Elementary Education
  • Special Education
Department of Teaching and Learning (T&L)
  • Middle Level Education
  • Secondary English Education
  • Secondary Family and Consumer Sciences Education
  • Secondary Math Education
  • Secondary Science Education (i.e., Biology, Physical Science)
  • Secondary Social Studies Education
  • K-12 Art Education
  • K-12 Foreign Language Education (i.e., Spanish, French, Chinese)
  • K-12 Health/Physical Education
  • K-12 Music Education (i.e., vocal, instrumental)

Candidate Guidelines for Field in Initial Licensure Programs.

  1. Candidates in initial programs should have experiences across their intended licensure grade range
  2. Clinical experiences within a program must be carefully planned to provide candidates with sufficient depth, breadth, diversity, coherence, and duration to include early field, internship I, and internship II. Programs should coordinate field experiences and assignments for candidates enrolled in semesters with multiple courses with clinical expectations (e.g., junior block, internship I).
  3. Candidates in initial programs should have the opportunity to work with individual students, groups of students, whole classes, and/or school faculty and staff. The balance of observation versus actual time working with students should be considered with weight given if possible to working directly with students.
  4. Clinical experiences should focus on authentic problems of practice central to the intended licensure area and the educator roles associated with these licenses.
  5. When possible, clinical experiences should be embedded in course curriculum as a part of the class and not a separate or stand-alone expectation. Faculty should consider replacing class sessions with guided field experiences.
  6. When possible, clinical experiences should be site-based. When clinical experiences are site-based, UCA faculty are committed to offering school-based educators professional development about the clinical experience, other PD as requested by the school, and other community building events.
  7. Candidates should experience clinical experiences that are directly supported by both provider- and school-based clinical educators.
  8. Candidates should be provided a clear purpose, directions, assignments, and grading expectations for every clinical experience.
  9. Candidates should receive direct and timely feedback (i.e., within one week) from the university instructors/supervisors and/or school-based clinical educator(s).
  10. Candidates should be “matched” to mentors based on learning needs as well as affective and dispositional needs.
  11. Clinical experiences should benefit the candidates, the school/community, and the faculty. This relationship should be mutually beneficial with a primary focus on developing candidate effectiveness in creating environments that support all students’ learning and development.
  12. Candidates should be supported in their understanding of child/adolescent development and learner diversity.
  13. Candidates should be supported in their technology usage and integration. Candidates should have available to them technology to use in supporting their work with children (traveling iPads, etc.)
  14. Clinical experiences in initial programs can be supported by technology-enhanced learning opportunities (e.g., video supervision, virtual coaching supervision, etc.)
  15. Clinical experiences should be monitored and assessed through embedded assignments with rubrics aligned to the program SPA content requirements. This field should be evaluated and discussed annually by those faculty involved in field coordination and committee work.
  16. Quality of the field will be assessed by asking for feedback from the (1) program candidates and the (2) school/community partners (teachers, principals, directors, curriculum specialists, etc.).
  17. Programs and the UCA COE will work with advisory groups, school partners, and other appropriate stakeholders to ensure coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation.
  18. Clinical expectations should be clear and universal for (1) candidates, (2) faculty, (3) mentor teachers, and (4) school partners/administrators. Programs may consider developing or refining materials such as an early field handbook, mentor handbook. Copies of signed MOUs should be provided to school-based clinical faculty when available. (UCA Partner School District MOU agreement and established MOUs 2015-2016.)
  19. Faculty should have clear guidelines for work in clinical settings to include program expectations for contact with school-based clinical educators that are made early and often in the candidate’s field experience with a goal of regular collaboration between mentor and course instructor/supervisor.
  20. Faculty involved with clinical experiences should directly supervise and debrief field experiences with candidates.
  21. Faculty involved with clinical experiences should model course assignments with K-12 students to that candidates can observe an authentic demonstration.
  22. It is recommended all UCA teacher education faculty should be in the field working with candidates and/or with K-12 students on a regular basis in some supervisory or supportive capacity (e.g., Junior Block observation, Induction class).
  23. Programs should consider matching faculty to specific school sites as an assigned liaison to develop model professional development schools.

Appendix A

Initial Program Components – Standard 2

Standard 2: The provider ensures that effective partnerships and high-quality clinical practice are central to preparation so that  candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to demonstrate positive impact on all P-12 students’ learning and development.
Component 2.1 Partnerships for Clinical Preparation

Partners co-construct mutually beneficial P-12 school and community arrangements, including technology-based collaborations, for clinical preparation and share responsibility for continuous improvement of candidate preparation. Partnerships for clinical preparation can follow a range of forms, participants, and functions. They establish mutually agreeable expectations for candidate entry, preparation, and exit; ensure that theory and practice are linked; maintain coherence across clinical and academic components of preparation; and share accountability for candidate outcomes.

Component 2.2: Clinical Educators

Partners co-select, prepare, evaluate, support, and retain high-quality clinical educators, both provider- and school-based, who demonstrate a positive impact on candidates’ development and P-12 student learning and development. In collaboration with their partners, providers use multiple indicators and appropriate technology-based applications to establish, maintain, and refine criteria for selection, professional development, performance evaluation, continuous improvement, and retention of clinical educators in all clinical placement settings.

Component 2.3 Clinical Experiences

The provider works with partners to design clinical experiences of sufficient depth, breadth, diversity, coherence, and duration to ensure that candidates demonstrate their developing effectiveness and positive impact on all students’ learning and development. Clinical experiences, including technology-enhanced learning opportunities, are structured to have multiple performance-based assessments at key points within the program to demonstrate candidates’ development of the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions, as delineated in Standard 1, that are associated with a positive impact on the learning and development of all P-12 students.