Source: Action in Teacher Education, Volume 34, Issue 4, p. 368-380, 2012.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This study examined whether there is a difference in the effectiveness of three pathways in learning to teach offered across the California State University (CSU) System.
It compared traditional campus-based, intern, and online credential programs across a 22-campus system.
The study used ratings of program preparation by 12,590 graduates after their first year of teaching and by 3,781 principals who supervise them.
Although no significant differences were found among principals' ratings of the teachers' preparation, teachers saw large differences with a statistically and clinically significant advantage for the online pathway.
No significant differences were found among the ratings of the employment supervisors; however, the teachers identified consistent differences between the pathways on all composites.
The online pathway graduates rated their preparation the highest in every one of the 17 composites.
The traditional pathway scored higher than the intern path on all but two composites.
The success of online pathway from the teachers' view is consistent with reviews that indicate that certain online learning conditions result in more effective learning than traditional instruction.
Features of the online pathway included a spiraling curriculum, candidates taught in cohorts across all coursework, fieldwork embedded in coursework, and extra mentoring available in addition to the usual university and district supervision.
The coursework integrates coursework and fieldwork as do other exemplary programs.
The online program is flexible to the candidate's personal life while enrolled.
Instead of having disparate instructors, the online program employs specifically trained faculty who are continually updated and who have input on curriculum development.
The authors conclude that the online pathway graduates are prepared differently than the other groups.
Candidates who select the online pathway might be more independent, self-directed learners with a stronger connection to the community in which they complete their field experiences—characteristics that might contribute to differences in ratings.
Each online applicant undergoes a rigorous interview process that emphasizes the need to be a self-directed learner.
Although they receive substantial support from their faculty member, the major responsibility for academic work is on the candidates' shoulders.
In addition, most online candidates have a connection to the community in which they complete their field experiences, and that connection might contribute to their commitment to succeed.