Content Knowledge
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Last modified: October 02, 2011 15:41:19.
Summary: Teacher candidates have in-depth knowledge of the content that they plan to teach as described in professional, state, and institutional standards. They demonstrate their knowledge through inquiry, critical analysis, and synthesis of the subject and over time so that growth, as well as level, can be assessed. Although licensure is new in Qatar, all candidates are prepared to pass the content examinations for licensure. Candidates in advanced programs for teachers are recognized experts in the content that they teach.


Context

Qatar is in the midst of education reform dating from 2004. In 2005, the SEC published the first curriculum standards, and currently schools have standards for Arabic language, English language, mathematics, Islamic studies, science, and early years education. Unit programs have been developed to ensure that candidates have high levels of content knowledge to help students achieve mastery of these curriculum standards (description follows). Each program has at least one course that involves intensive study of the content standards (B.Ed., EDUC 502; EDUC 312; Diplomas, EDUC 502; EDUC 500; M.Ed. Educational Leadership, EDEL 603; M.ED. Special Education, SPED 601).

In 2007, the SEC released the Qatar National Professional Standards for Teachers and School Leaders (QNPS), which set benchmarks and criteria for content knowledge. Standard 6 requires teachers to:  Apply teaching/subject area knowledge to support student learning (QNPS, p. 125). It was not until 2009, however, that a system was set in place to hold teachers to those standards through licensure, a process that will not become fully active until fall, 2010. The process is portfolio-based, so unit programs are preparing candidates for the process not only by monitoring the subject content and pedagogical content provided by courses, but also by having all candidates develop electronic portfolios on TaskStream during their programs. The artifacts in these portfolios and their accompanying reflections are expected to demonstrate content and pedagogical proficiency. Each program also examines the licensure process (B.Ed., EDUC 502; EDUC 310; Diplomas, EDUC 500, M.Ed. Educational Leadership, EDEL 605; M.Ed. Special Education SPED 601). The expectation is that all graduates of unit programs who apply for licensure will achieve it at proficient level or above the first semester after graduation. 

Content Knowledge in the Programs

Bachelor Degree in Primary Education

The Bachelor Degree in Primary Education (B.Ed.) is a new program (initiated Spring 2010); however, a process is in place to assure the content knowledge of the candidates. The B.Ed. content courses were selected and/or designed on EDUC 502; international curriculum standards and are monitored by the coordinator of the B.Ed. External consultants in English (ESL), mathematics, and science education did extensive reviews of content courses, examining the courses offered to see whether they were designed to meet international standards for content and pedagogy. The recommendations from these reviews were discussed with the heads of departments in the College of Arts and Sciences to ensure that the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the College of Education were committed to provide a program and met or exceeded international standards in teacher education. The program was sent to four reviewers external to Qatar, from Texas A&M University, Princeton University, American University in Beruit, and United Arab Emirates University. All reviewers were experts in teacher education. In addition, the planning committee asked for and received feedback from primary education experts at the Education Institute of the Supreme Education Council.

In addition, content course instructors from the College of Arts and Sciences have agreed to provide course syllabi to the program coordinator each semester and artifacts such as assignments and assessments so that content can be mapped against unit learning outcomes. Once each semester, faculty from the content course areas (math, English, science, history, and Arabic) will meet with CED faculty to discuss the ways the content courses external to the unit are meeting the needs of our candidates and how we can work as a team to ensure our candidates meet or exceed expected standards. Candidate grades in content courses will be used to assess their content knowledge. The candidates’ grade point averages (GPAs) are reviewed upon admission by the registrar and each semester after entering the program by the program coordinator. A candidate cannot remain in the program if his/her GPA is below 2.0/4.0 or if the candidate has lower than a D in any course (see Unit Assessment).

Diploma Programs

Candidate GPAs are used to track content knowledge in all diploma programs. Candidates must have a minimum GPA of 2.5/4.0 to be eligible for admission, and their GPAs must be at least 2.5/4.0 at each checkpoint. The registrar is responsible for screening official transcripts for the entrance GPA requirement, and the program coordinator obtains and retains candidate GPAs each semester. The candidate may not move into the next level of the program if, at a checkpoint, he/she has any grade lower than D (see Unit Assessment). Candidates applying for the Secondary Diploma Program must also pass a content exam in the fields in which they intend to teach. Candidate GPAs are used to track content knowledge in the graduate programs. Candidates must have a minimum of a 2.5/4 GPA to be eligible for admission and must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0/4 each semester of the program. In addition, candidates in the M.Ed. EL must make 70 or above on a comprehensive exam prior to being approved for internship. This comprehensive exam is developed by the faculty in the program with questions from each course in the program.

Graduates from the masters degree programs are recognized as experts in their fields (see Alumni Highlights and Arabic paper article). The unit has begun to collect data regarding the proficiency of unit graduates through a post graduate survey that will be distributed to graduates and to their employment supervisors one year after graduation (Graduate Survey; Supervisor Survey).