A new two-year master's program designed to give teachers greater ability in research, curriculum and instruction begins June 1 at the University of North Georgia (UNG).
"This degree is designed to offer opportunities for certified teachers to extend their knowledge and skills both in advanced content and content pedagogies," said Dr. Susan Brandenburg-Ayres, dean of UNG's College of Education. "We expect teachers to be attracted to the degree not only because of the quality of content design for which UNG is known, but also because of provisions within the degree program that permit teachers to select courses in their field."
The program, which is taking applications through May 23, will have three strands: research, curriculum and instruction, and a focus area chosen by each student. The focus areas include options such as English to speakers of other languages, gifted education, international teaching, and reading.
The cohort-based program totals 33-36 credit hours, based upon the focus courses selected. It is designed for students to take two courses per semester. Face-to-face instruction will be based on UNG's Cumming Campus with a possibility of some of the instruction being delivered remotely to other UNG campuses.
"Analyzing our classroom strategies gives us the opportunity to examine how we can shape our classrooms to better meet the curriculum," said Chelsey Hatfield, who graduated this past year from UNG with a master's degree in education. "Teachers rarely get such an opportunity to go this far in depth so that we can see what's working and what isn't inside the classroom. This program will allow many venues to do just that."
Dr. Charles Burrage, assistant dean and coordinator for graduate programs in UNG's College of Education, said the degree represents a unique opportunity for educators to bridge educational theory and classroom practices.
"There is a close connection between what we teach and what actually happens in the classrooms and schools. In other programs of this type, there is little connection between the faculty in that program and the reality of current classrooms," Burrage said. "We have partnerships with schools in many counties across the region, so we are practitioner-friendly and can offer extensive field experiences. Students in these courses will experience high quality instruction and involvement in educational research."
Also, with enough interest, UNG could potentially bring the program to teachers, Burrage said. The program could be offered on-site, much like UNG's professional development model for undergraduate education degrees, where students and their professors have college courses in area public schools in a full-immersion model.
The flexible degree program conforms to the expectations of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) and graduates may be eligible for pay increases.
"This means that graduates can expect that the state will recognize their graduate degree and will compensate them for having achieved that step in the process at a time when degrees in common, out-of-field areas like leadership will not meet the GaPSC criteria for a T-5 certificate," Burrage said.
Burrage added that other strengths of the program include the research and project defense of the capstone course, which helps prepare students for doctoral programs, and the broad scope of educational areas among collaborating students, which gives a wide perspective in curriculum relevance.
UNG's teacher education programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and are approved by the GaPSC. For more information about UNG's College of Education and admission requirements, visit the website at http://ung.edu/college-of-education/index.php.