MAT Researcher Wins Grad School Poster Competition
Jessica Seckler, '14, was awarded first place for her poster, Using Interactive Engagement Teaching Methods to Improve Student Performance in a High School Physics Classroom, at the 2015 Wheaton College Graduate School poster competition. Her research was conducted as part of her student teaching assignment in physics in a local public high school. She was interested in comparing the impact of two different kinds of teaching methodologies on student performance. The control group of students were taught physics using traditional methods, such as lectures, recipe labs, with few inquiry-based opportunities. The experimental group of students were taught physics through interactive engagement, such as interactive discussions, problem solving and inquiry. Using a paired samples t-test analysis, there was not a statistically significant difference in pre- and post-test scores for the traditional group, while there was a statistically significant improvement for the experimental group.
Mentoring to Alumni Research: An Encouraging Word
The Faculty Student Mentoring Initiative at Wheaton College has allowed professors in departments funded by the mentoring initiative to form small cohorts of students and partner with them in projects, initiatives and research. Each year, Dr. Eckert forms a research group with undergraduate students to track recent alumni of the Wheaton Teacher Education Program (WheTEP) to learn about the influence Wheaton College had on these graduates and to find out what they do after graduation. According to McKenna Fitzharris '17, "we met weekly as a group where we pray for graduates we regularly correspond with and analyze data from the annual survey we sent out." The data obtained, with a 90% response rate, results in the information available on the WheTEACH website, which is maintained by the students involved in this mentoring group.
As is evident in the graph, about 90% of recent graduates were employed in education that first year after graduation, in public, private and international settings. Graduates also appear to value the strong liberal arts preparation they have experienced at Wheaton College, too. More information about these and other alumni responses are available on the WheTEACH website. McKenna also notes that they research and maintain the licensure and teaching requirements for all fifty states in the U.S., so very practical information is tabulated for those conducting a job search. Overall, this particular mentoring initiative encourages both the undergraduates connecting with alumni, as well as the alumni reporting back to the next generation of educators.
Special Education Endorsement to be Added
The Wheaton Teacher Education program plans to offer the courses leading to a special education endorsement that can be added to an Illinois teaching license. This may be easier for elementary education teacher candidates to complete than secondary education teacher candidates, as special education could be chosen as an elementary education concentration. The department is conducting a national search for a special education instructor during the 2014-15 academic year with the hope of offering the added special education courses beginning in 2015-16.