|Summary: Curriculum, field experiences, and clinical practice promote candidates’ development of knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions related to diversity identified in the unit’s conceptual framework. Candidates learn to contextualize teaching and draw effectively on representations from the students’ own experiences and cultures. They challenge students toward cognitive complexity and engage all students, including English language learners and students with exceptionalities, through instructional conversation. Candidates and faculty regularly review candidate assessment data on candidates’ ability to work with all students and develop a plan for improving their practice and the institution’s programs.|
The commitment of the unit to diversity is evident in its conceptual framework and infused throughout the program. One of the unit’s learning outcomes states: “Respond to every student’s uniqueness and foster successful learning experiences by meeting individual differences.” The unit believes that expert educators understand the vital roles of diversity and culturally responsive pedagogies in supporting positive development of all students and school reform and is committed to ensuring that all candidates are able to foster instructional opportunities that are adaptive to students from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds and with exceptionalities.
In recognition of the concept “together” in the unit conceptual framework, candidates are expected to establish professional bonds and work successfully in educational settings with faculty members, mentors, peers, parents, and community members diverse in cultural heritage, gender, and ethnicity. They are expected to assume that all students can learn, to develop curriculum and learning experiences that are related to the cultural references of the students, to create safe and secure learning environments that recognize student uniqueness, and to understand and plan for individual learning needs. Although the cultural context physically separates students by gender in most educational environments, candidates are expected to recognize the equality of the genders and to plan instruction accordingly. In an alignment of the QNPS with the unit’s learning outcomes, diversity (a unit outcome) is aligned with each standard, meaning that each QNPS standard could only be fully realized if diversity issues are addressed.
The unit incorporates diversity into all of its courses and experiences to that candidates become aware of the issues related to diversity, develop the knowledge and skills needed to address these issues, and apply the pedadogical knowledge and skills required to establish an environment in which all students can learn. The elements of diversity are concretely delineated in the coursework and experiences for all programs. All candidates have multiple opportunities to understand diversity and to demonstrate this understanding by adapting their work to diverse populations, not only including ethnic and racial diversity, but also students with exceptionalities. For example, in the B.Ed. program and in all diploma programs candidates are required to take courses in child development (EDUC 315 in the B.Ed. and EDUC 501 in the diploma programs) and in special education (EDUC 317 in the B.Ed. and EDUC 503 in the diploma programs). With the exception of the Arabic/Islamic Studies/Social Studies track in the Primary Diploma program, all diploma programs and the B.Ed. program also require a course in addressing the needs of second language learners (EDUC 311 for the B.Ed. program and EDUC 520 for the diploma programs). All of these courses specifically address diversity.
The child development courses provide candidates with knowledge and experiences to foster understanding of development and growth in relation to learning. Candidates engage in such activities as designing instruction appropriate to students’ stages of development, learning styles, strengths and needs; selecting approaches that provide opportunities for different performance modes; adjusting instruction to accommodate learning differences or needs of students (time and circumstance of work, tasks assigned, communication and response modes); using knowledge of different cultural contexts within the community (socio-economic, ethnic, cultural); and creating a learning community that respects individual differences.
The special education courses require candidates to apply models, theories, and philosophies of special education and the ethical standards to develop an individualized education plans for students with special learning needs; write lesson plans that include modifications for students with specific learning needs; evaluate authentic situations related to special education with regard to ethical implications; and investigate and reflect on issues related to inclusion.
The courses in second language acquisition require candidates to describe common challenges for the second language learner and effective strategies. Candidates plan and teach lessons using these strategies and write reflective papers related to addressing the needs of second language learners.
At the advance level, candidates enrolled in the master’s program in Special Education are required to complete SPED 602: Inclusive Education for Students with Disabilities. In this course, candidates are trained to effectively teach a range of students found in the typical, general education classroom as well as serve in a pre-referral process and during a child’s eligibility for special education. During this course, candidates are expected to write a case study of a child who is considered to have a disability or pre-referral process, describe present educational status of the child and design an IEP for one year. Other courses in the M.Ed. SPED program related to identification of special needs and effective strategies for creating a positive classroom climate, for working with parents and other educational professionals for the benefit of students, and for planning learning experiences and assessments to address specific student needs.
All lessons that candidates prepare during their field experiences and clinical practice require modifications for students with exceptionalities (Required Lesson Template). Since Qatar follows a full inclusion model, candidates have experience in the schools with different kinds of exceptionalities.
Other school professionals, candidates enrolled in the M.Ed.EL, are required to take two courses that directly include addressing the needs of all students. In Curriculum Design and Development (EDEL 604), candidates study the important of student IEPs and effective modifications strategies. Candidates are required to develop lessons, units, and assessments; all require the candidate to describe appropriate modifications for students with exceptionalities.
Educational Policy in Qatar course (EDEL 603), candidates study the importance and potential means of collaborating with families and other community members, responding to diverse community interests and needs, and mobilizing community resources. This course also provides candidates with the knowledge and ability to promote the success of all students by understanding, responding to, and influencing the larger political, social, economic, legal, and cultural context.
In addition to candidate grades in the courses that specifically address diversity (Figure 1), there are specific items on the PDI and CPA instruments related to diversity. (Individual candidate scores are available onsite, Exhibit 4.1). These instruments are completed by the candidate (at Checkpoints 1 and 2, and twice during clinical experience), the candidate’s mentor (at Checkpoint 2 and twice during clinical experience), and the candidate’s college supervisor (twice during clinical experience), so that both level and growth may be tracked.
The Diversity Standard Committee has also designed a Diversity Survey based on rubric critera for diversity (2008 NCATE UNIT STANDARDS: A Summary of the NCATE Unit Standards Rubrics at the Acceptable Level). The purpose is to administer the DS to our candidates at different checkpoints in their programs to determine how well their overall experiences, from the onset of their studies to the end, match the curricular, pedagogical and assessment practices of our programs in the context of the diversity standard. This innovative practice will contribute to the unit’s continuous reflection on improving several aspects of the Diversity Standard in all of the programs. The Diversity Survey will be administered to all candidates at checkpoints one and three. As diversity is also a learning outcome of the unit, all candidates are required to submit evidence and reflection related to their proficiency in the area of diversity, assessed by rubric.