Assessing Competency Based Learning

I was thinking about assessment and evaluation in context to professional programs and teacher education. Practicum courses are evaluated on a PASS/FAIL premise based on the BC Teacher Standards, but there has been  a conversation on the floor about PASS/FAIL for coursework. I would like us to have this conversation as we move forward with the Design Committee and future programming. I would like this to be a topic of conversation in future design committee meetings. Thanks for your consideration.

Submitted by Christine

Inclusive Teaching

Inclusive Teaching
Prof. Rick Reis


The posting gives some good advice on promoting student engagement in the classroom.  The article is reproduced with permission, and is from the Tuesday, October 30, 2018 issue of the online publication, Graduate Connections Newsletter[ ], from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is published by the Office of Graduate Studies. ©2018 Graduate Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.


Rick Reis
UP NEXT: Becoming a “Bilingual” Advocate for Your Discipline and Your Graduates

Tomorrow’s Teaching and Learning

———- 963 words ———-

Inclusive Teaching

College classrooms are increasingly diverse places. Instructors need to consider not only the obvious diversity in their classroom such as gender and ethnicity, but also aspects such as students’ prior knowledge or preferred ways of learning. Inclusive teaching refers to using teaching methods to address the needs of all students in your classroom and ensure that all students are able to participate equitably in your class. Inclusive teaching requires preparation before entering the classroom and consistent efforts in the classrooms to create an environment that will be beneficial for all.

Before Entering the Classroom

Examine your implicit biases and the classroom environment you will teach in

Everyone has some implicit biases about people of different backgrounds. Whether those biases are positive or negative, it is still worth being aware of those unconscious biases because it might impact (unintentionally) the examples you use, who you call on during class, or how you view students’ success or failure in the class. Take some time to reflect on your own views. Some people use a measure like the Implicit Association Test to think about this; others may simply engage in meaningful reflection about diversity, their experiences, and how that impacts their teaching. You also need to consider the class’s demographics. Are there specific concerns relative to that class that you should be aware of? For example, if you are teaching a politics class you might have students from both ends of the political spectrum. What will you do to ensure there is productive, civil discourse in your class?

Plan for diversity in the syllabus

All classes start with a syllabus. If you plan to be mindful of diversity and teach inclusively, that should be reflected in your syllabus. You might have a statement about diversity in your classroom explaining how you value diversity and what that means for your classroom. You can also think about the readings or assignments your students might have. For example, if you teach an English class, do you include diverse authors? Are there ways to bring in readings or assignments that might appeal to students’ backgrounds or preferred ways of learning? How do you describe the class and your expectations in the syllabus? All of those elements should be part of your syllabus if you are serious about inclusive teaching.

In the Classroom: Teaching Strategies

Establish a positive classroom environment

A positive classroom environment is one where all students feel comfortable to participate and that their contributions are valued. To create a positive classroom environment, think about the rules you might establish to encourage everyone to participate. It also means a classroom where there is rapport between the teacher and students, and they all feel comfortable. Provide opportunities for students to get to know each other and for them to get to know you. While it is important to have some professional distance between teacher and student, you may be willing to share a few facts about your life, perhaps a hobby, that might help students see you as a person and not just a teacher. Learn their names. Let students know you care about their success. More information on creating a safe environment is available in this article.

Encourage participation

Not all students may be comfortable participating in class. This could be for any number of reasons. Some may be naturally shy. Others may feel uncomfortable if they are outnumbered by others in the class. For example, physics classes can often have very few women, and we know that this gender imbalance can affect their willingness to participate and their success in those classes. One simple way to address this is to think about the way to set up groups in the class making sure you are conscious of the class demographics when you do so. Show that you are welcoming to all student questions and comments and encourage students to think through answers even if they make mistakes initially. For example, saying “good thinking”, or “almost there”, are more encouraging that saying “no, that’s not right” when students answer a question in class.

Provide support

Be available to students when they need help. Check in with students to make sure they understand the material and to offer support when needed. Offer support outside of class when necessary. Encourage a growth mindset in your students by fostering the idea that they can all learn the material if they put in the effort and not simply whether they innately understand the subject.

You may also familiarize yourself with resources and support for students across campus. The Services for Students with Disabilities, the Writing Center, or other offices can be useful resources for you in making sure all students have other resources needed to succeed. They can also provide you some resources to make sure you are meeting the needs of students in the classroom regardless of their backgrounds or needs.

Vary teaching strategies and examples

Use examples that include people of diverse backgrounds. If you use case studies or examples, try to vary your examples to include people from different backgrounds. If you talk about researchers or past studies, are they written by researchers of the same background? Remember students benefit when they can see themselves as professionals in that field and showing them examples of researchers who might look like them is one way of doing this.

Solicit student feedback

Just as not all students may be comfortable speaking in front of the entire class, they may not be comfortable giving feedback in a formal setting. Provide opportunities for them to express themselves or share concerns in other formats, perhaps minute papers or reflective assignments. Some students who may not shine in class discussions, may love written assignments.

CYH Questions About Teacher Education

Posted by CYH: I would like to post a few ideas and questions as we move forward with our thinking about redesign.  This involves the idea of length of time, offering credits to recruit and recognize Coaching Teachers for 15+, and post-baccalaureate program offered at UNBC Prince George or remotely.

The UBC Teacher Education Program in Vancouver currently offers their BEd program in 11-months. Ours is offered in 16-months or 4-terms. SFU has moved to 16-months for PDP as well.

I wonder about how long UNBC should take for students to be certified. I believe this will be discussed in our upcoming design committee meeting. I’ve heard of people choosing UBC over UNBC because of certifying earlier and this person is a Prince George resident. How do we make ourselves more marketable, competitive, and viable to those who wish to become teachers?

I think about recruiting and retaining Coaching Teachers for our practicum placements. Practicum Mentors have contracts with UNBC but Coaching Teachers are recognized with gifts. UBC and SFU offer tuition credits for Coaching Teachers (aka. School Associates or Teacher Sponsors). I wonder if this is possible for UNBC. This was discussed briefly on Nov. 2/3. Another possibility that was discussed was practicing teachers (or Coaching Teachers) receiving credit for doing course work with Teacher Candidates.  Offering credits as a way to recognize the contribution to the UNBC School of Education but could also help our school with Graduate programs, Diploma programs, or 15+ opportunities with future enrolment.  Can we offer credits or credit hours to recruit and retain Coaching Teachers for Practicum?

This leads to my final thought. UNBC offers Graduate Programs in MDL (multidisciplinary leadership) and Special Education… and Diploma Programs in Terrace in Montessori and Curriculum & Instruction. Master programs are 600-level courses and Diploma programs are 500-level programs. We are also offering a course this spring that is a 300-level course in Teacher inquiry. I wonder how this course fits into the above programs, if it does. How does this inquiry course fit into the idea of Practicing Teachers attaining a 15+ designation? Can this course be transferred to a Diploma program? (I’d suspect not due to the 300-level of the course, but I’m asking). If we are considering having “electives” during the summer for practicing teachers and Teacher Candidates to possibly take, how do these courses transfer to currently offered programs? How can we offer 15+ programming in conjunction to our current diploma and graduate programs? Finally, how can we offer (or grow) post-baccalaureate programs for practicing teachers in partnership with our BEd program and Coaching Teacher recognition?

Submitted by: Christine Younghusband

Doing Homework – November 22

Posted by CYH: On Thursday afternoon, Bonnie, Bill, Deb, and Christine met again at the Prince George campus (with an BlueJeans invitation to Alex L. and Gretchen) to complete a task from our November 2/3 Design Committee meeting. We reviewed the courses currently being offered in our BEd Program and how this could be framed in a way that is scaffolded and block-oriented. Although we were playing around with ideas, rich conversation was derived from our rethinking as to how and what Teacher Education could look like at UNBC. There are other conversations to be had such as 15+, Graduate Studies, and external programs, but we hope to share some of our work on Monday.

Submitted by: Bonnie, Bill, Deb, and Christine

MDL Conversation – FYI






Posted by CYH: I just wanted the Design Team to know about the work that SEGA (Supporting Education Graduate Advancement) is doing. This is led by Dr. Tina Fraser and Dr. Catherine Whalen… and I joined this team. On Friday, Nov.16th, we got together to discuss the MDL (Multidisciplinary Leadership) Comprehensive Exam questions. From this meeting, we discussed MDL programming and courses offered. We would likely take an UDL approach from this recent exam design to future programming. This is very preliminary and understand that the primary conversation of the Design Team is about the BEd program to be implemented in 2020. I appreciated this conversation with my SEGA colleagues who are also MDL instructors. We may take an approach that parallels the Design Team.  I look forward to the possibilities and future discussions. This is an FYI only. Thanks.

Submitted by Christine

Look forward to these discussions with Lantana Usman included

Ad Hoc Design Cmt Mtg – Nov.17

Posted by CYH: We had an Ad Hoc Design Committee meeting for those at the PG Campus this SATURDAY from noon – 3pm. We wanted to complete the work (or at least continue the work) from our Nov.2/3 meeting. Bill, Bonnie, Deb, and Christine were in attendance.

What we did was look at the courses currently being offered (that are Senate approved) at UNBC School of Education. This was a task that we started at the end of our 2-day meeting a couple of weeks ago. What we did is, we printed a list of courses and cut them into strips to situate them within the framework of Questioning, Exploring, Focusing, and Refocussing. We added the fourth category of “refocussing” to our thinking. We reviewed each course and placed them accordingly with 300-level courses (Year 1) and 400-level courses (Year 2).

After we placed the courses onto a poster paper (photo not shown), we then looked at how we could offer courses in a 16-month framework. The “refocusing” of Year 1 (old language) is the “questioning” of Year 2 (old language). They overlapped. “Refocussing” for Year 2 (old language) would be the Capstone e-Portfolio, where e-Portfolios would be ongoing learning for the entire BEd Program along with Teacher Inquiry (EDUC 431) starting after the first 13-weeks of the program.

We started to talk about the ideas of “blocks” of time for courses and practicum and how these courses could be placed. We were essentially scaffolding coursework. It was an amazing process. We worked on a DRAFT construction for half the program. What would it look like? We hope to continue this conversation Thursday, Nov. 22nd to see how the second half could unfold. We are just playing and innovating. Great conversation. Worth noting, we would like to offer an ETHICS course at the beginning of the BEd program but there is currently no existing Senate approved course. Something to consider.

The blog entry in only an update of our homework.

Submitted by: Bill, Bonnie, Deb, and Christine


Thinking from Nov 2/3 Meeting

Late post by CYH: Here is our DRAFT NOTES from the Nov. 2/3 2-day meeting. It’s the conclusion of our meeting where we were tasked as small groups to consider the overview of the UNBC BEd Teacher Education Program within the Framework of Questioning, Exploring, and Focussing/Refocussing by Identity, Community, Responsibility, and Bodies of Knowledge. We looked at the task from the 50,000 feet point of view looking at ideology, visioning, and learning intentions… as these would lend to specific learning experiences.

Loved some key words that were elicited from this conversation like Enculturation, Transformation, Lived Experiences, and Shared Values. Furthermore, we wanted to challenge students to connect with their identity, differentiate the differences between a “teacher” and “educator,” and look for VISIBLE differences in self, pedagogy/performance, and mindset in light of the BC Teacher Standards demonstrated them in a capstone e-Portfolio.

To finalize this thought process… students start their BEd Program on the LAND and end their BEd on the LAND… acknowledging PEOPLE and PLACE at the beginning and end of the BEd program.

We loved how this framework is cyclic and interconnected vertically and horizontally. There is harmony, growth, and continuity. It models the LIFE LONG LEARNING via experiential learning and reflection.

Submitted by: Alex L., Bonnie, and Christine (Nov.18, 2018)

Special Questions on my Mind

These questions arose for me from our 2-day conference:
1. If we can agree on the ideal balance between theory and practice in this program – how can this balance be reflected in SCHs? Or should it?
2. Should admission to the program be subject to affirmative quota? (e.g. fewer humanity graduates, more scientists) Or should we aim to produce “competent out-of-field teachers”? Learning II?
3. How could the School of Ed facilitate better communication between colleagues teaching similar courses or themes?
4. Addressing subject matter gaps (I have faced a chronic gap in scientific literacy over 12 years): Format a ‘special topic’ course to fit small groups with inquiry topics of their choice?

Charts and Materials November 2 & 3 Meeting

The Design Committee met for two days in early November to flesh out ideas.

Agenda for that meeting

Agenda for November 2 – 3

The following folder holds the charts and materials generated during that meeting – thanks Alex for documenting this work using that great little app that was new to me – Office Lens.

Design Committee Charts

Wish List Whiteboard Voice Survey Role of Education Place People Opening Marketing Land Instruction Indigenous Advisory Group Design Principles Constraints