If you have checked out WesMaps in the last 24 hours, you may have noticed a new catagory under the certificates section. On Tuesday, Dec. 6, University faculty officially passed the Certificate in the Study of Education for a three-year pilot period.
The initiative to establish the education-related programs was started by the Vice President of Academic Affairs Joseph Bruno in Fall 2010, in response to what he saw as a growing student interest in educational studies. An Ad Hoc Committee on Education Programs (AHCEP) was subsequently created to address the issue and headed by Associate Professor of Chemistry T. David Westmoreland. The committee consists of nearly 30 faculty members, staff, and students.
According to Assistant Professor of Sociology Daniel Long who serves on the committee, faculty members and administrators identified interest in the study of education among past, present, and prospective students. The proposal argues that, despite the fact that the University has no formal education program, high numbers of Wesleyan graduates go on to work in education. Of the nearly 20,000 alumni for whom the University has occupational information, over 13 percent report that they currently work, or previously have worked, in primary and/or secondary education, the proposal states.
The proposal also referenced high demand in the education studies classes that are currently available. Associate Professor of Psychology Anna Shusterman, who teaches several education-related classes, said that she has found demand for those classes to be particularly high.
“Daniel [Long] and Steve Stemler and I routinely had the same students popping into our offices for office hours or signing up for our classes,” she said. “We became aware that there was this group of students who were independently finding the three of us…looking for support in pursuing education-related studies.”
The certificate requires seven credits in five categories for completion. Students must complete at least one credit in cognitive and psychological influences on learning and schooling, at least one credit in social and structural analyses of education, one credit in statistics, one credit in a broader context, and one credit that involves in-school experience.
“I think certificates as we have them here at Wesleyan are really useful ways of helping students focus a secondary area of studies that’s across disciplines,” Long said. “It takes advantage of the interdisciplinary nature of studies here at Wesleyan.”
The certificate includes classes from a variety of majors, such as psychology, sociology, history, economics, and math.
In the past, Wesleyan offered both an undergraduate Teacher Education Program (TEP) and a Masters in Teaching program. The TEP, which later became known as the Education Studies Program (ESP), was created in 1972 and cancelled in 1994 for financial reasons. It allowed students to become certified elementary or secondary educators. The masters program existed from the the 1920s to 1990s, but was also cancelled for financial reasons.
“The elimination of ESP is expected to reduce the university’s academic budget by $230,000 of the $2 million in Academic Affairs cuts proposed last week…” The Argus reported on February 18, 1992.
According to the article, though student and faculty interest was still high, the department was forced to close.
The AHCEP also submitted a proposal for a program that, like the TEP, would allow students to become state-approved educators. The proposal is currently under review by administrators.
In the mean time, students will be eligible to declare the Study of Education Certificate in spring 2012.
According to Shusterman, any further advancement in Education Studies at Wesleyan will probably be student-driven.
“What I hope is that students who are taking those classes anyway will choose to complete the certificate and then build some sort of organic movement or growth, and start to come forward to the University with requests about what they would like to see,” she said.