THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE ROLE IN PREPARING FUTURE TEACHERS: THE IMPACT OF A MENTORING PROGRAM FOR PRESERVICE TEACHERS

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  • This article was downloaded by: [The Aga Khan University]On: 17 October 2014, At: 01:54Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK

    Community College Journal ofResearch and PracticePublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/ucjc20

    THE COMMUNITY COLLEGEROLE IN PREPARING FUTURETEACHERS: THE IMPACT OFA MENTORING PROGRAM FORPRESERVICE TEACHERSRosemary Woullard a & Linda T. Coats ba Pearl River Community College , Poplarville,Mississippi, USAb Mississippi State University , Mississippi, MississippiState, USAPublished online: 17 Aug 2010.

    To cite this article: Rosemary Woullard & Linda T. Coats (2004) THE COMMUNITYCOLLEGE ROLE IN PREPARING FUTURE TEACHERS: THE IMPACT OF A MENTORINGPROGRAM FOR PRESERVICE TEACHERS, Community College Journal of Research andPractice, 28:7, 609-624

    To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10668920490467251

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  • THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE ROLE IN PREPARINGFUTURE TEACHERS: THE IMPACT OF A MENTORINGPROGRAM FOR PRESERVICE TEACHERS

    Rosemary WoullardPearl River Community College, Poplarville,Mississippi, USA

    Linda T. CoatsMississippi State University, Mississippi State,Mississippi, USA

    The imminent teacher shortage in the United States has caused educators, policymakers, parents and concerned citizens to focus on teacher preparation not only atthe university level, but also at the community college level. As a result, manycommunity colleges are developing teacher education programs and focusing onreal life classroom situations for early field experiences. Mentoring, one of the mostpopular ways of benefiting from the positive influence of a more experiencedperson, is an approach to preparing teachers for educational occupations.

    The main objective of this study was to see if a preservice mentoring programcan affect changes in the emotions, attitudes, and anxieties of students about theteaching profession. The participants were 60 education majors (30 inthe experimental group and 30 in the control group) from a community college. Theexperimental group had first-hand experiences with 30 master teachers from alocal school district. The 30 students in the control group were education majorsfrom the community college who completed a pre- and posttest instrument. Datawas collected from results of a pre- and posttest of a teaching attitudinal survey forpreservice teachers. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed to test forsignificant differences between the means of the posttests for the control andexperimental groups while controlling for the pretests. Results revealed that therewere no statistically significant differences between the means of the two groupswith respect to changes in emotions and anxiety. However, there was a statisticallysignificant difference between the two groups in attitudinal changes.

    In the past, the United States has been able to produce an adequatesupply of teachers to meet its educational demands. For generations,four-year colleges and universities have been charged with the

    Address correspondence to Linda T. Coats, Mississippi State University, Box 9705,Mississippi State, MS 39762. E-mail: Ltc1@ra.msstate.edu

    Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 28: 609624, 2004

    Copyright # Taylor & Francis Inc.ISSN: 1066-8926 print/1521-0413 online

    DOI: 10.1080/10668920490467251

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  • responsibility of producing qualified teachers who can effectively meetthe challenges of the classroom. However, because of a projectedincrease in student enrollment, high teacher attrition rates, low tea-cher salaries, teacher accountability, changing classroom dynamics,and increased teaching workloads, in as little as seven years thiscountry will not have enough teachers to fill our schools (EducationWeek, 2001). Many states are already feeling the crunch and aretaking action to prevent an educational crisis that could result from asevere shortage of teachers.

    According to Yasin (2000), the number of public elementary andsecondary school teachers has continued to grow for the last tenyears. Synder (1999) reports that there are about 3.1 million teachersin the United States. Around 2,666,000 of this number teach inpublic elementary and secondary schools while 400,000 teach inprivate elementary and secondary schools. This is a significantincrease over the last few years. By the year 2008, the number ofteachers will increase to 3.46 million while the elementary and sec-ondary student enrollment will increase to 54.27 million. Gerald andHussar (1998) claim that these figures indicate that in a few yearsmore teachers will be needed than are being prepared to enter theclassrooms.

    The National Education Association (NEA) has determined that 6%of the nations teaching force leaves the profession, and more than 7%change schools each year. Additionally, 20% of all newly hired teachersleave within three years because they are not properly prepared forthe realities of the classroom. In urban districts, close to 50% ofnewcomers flee the profession during their first five years of teaching(NEA, 1999, p. 3). It is also interesting to note that while the studentpopulation is becoming more multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, theteachers who teach them are not. Around 8790% of U. S. teachers arewhite females while only 11% are teachers of color. African Americansmake up 6.9% of the teaching population and Hispanics=Latino, alongwith other minorities, account for 3.5%. In contrast to this fact,African American, Hispanic=Latino, Asian, and Native American chil-dren make up 36% of the student population, a percentage that in-creases each passing year (Community College Network (CCN), 2000).

    According to The Community College Policy Center (Policy Issue,2002) some states such as Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois,Maryland, and Texas are already suffering from teacher shortages andhave begun meeting the challenge of this new role for their communitycolleges by growing their own teachers=educators. In Arizona, RioSalado College offers the first on-line based teacher certification pro-gram for perspective K-12 teachers in the United States.

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  • In Mississippi 63% of the states college students are enrolled in its15 community colleges. Thirty-two percent of these studentsare minorities. The Mississippi Association of Community and JuniorCollege (MACJC) has responded with a Teacher Preparation Initia-tive. This initiative contains nine task forces concerning recruitment,curriculum planning, prospective teachers, retention, professionaldevelopment, collaboration, faculty-in-residence, spring colloquium,and Praxis I (MACJC, 2001).

    In the late 1990s, the Mississippi Department of Education reporteda shortage of some 700 teachers. The state began to take action byenacting The Mississippi Critical Teacher Shortage Act to offset themore severe crisis expected in the next five years. The MississippiCritical Shortage Act of 1998 was enacted to address the seriousproblem of teacher shortages. In 2000, the act was revised to includeteacher incentives and recruitment tools to attract qualified teachercandidates to specific geographic areas of the state. Certain areas ofthe state suffer disproportionally from a lack of qualified educatorsand are eligible for critical teacher shortage funds established by thestate. One of the most critical areas is the Delta region (MississippiCritical Shortage Act, 2000). The new federal government legislationthat has come from Presidents Bushs No Child Left Behind Actfocuses on the importance of having qualified teachers in each class-room. One of the key requirements outlined in Title II, Part A of thereport states that all teachers must be highly qualified by the end ofthe 20052006 school year.

    Because of such a severe teacher shortage, some states legislatorshave officially recognized community colleges as institutions to pre-pare students for teaching careers. The Mississippi Association forCommunity and Junior Colleges (MACJC) points out that this is a rolefor which the community college is naturally fitted. Community col-leges enroll more than 44% of undergraduates in the nation (MACJC,2001). Community colleges also enroll 42% of all African Americancollege students and 55% of all Hispanic students in higher education(Waiwaiole & Boswell, 2001). Generally community colleges prepareeducation majors with core courses, before they transfer to four-yearinstitutions. When these students transfer to a four-year institution,they enter a teacher preparation program for the first time. Commu-nity college students are not generally exposed to any field experiencesnor are they placed in the proximity of any practical K-12 teachingsituations. There are, however, some states that have formed com-munity college teacher preparation programs. In most of these statesthough, there have been no planned community college involvement atthe state or local level (MACJC, 2001). Because these community

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  • college teacher preparation programs are not widespread, there hasbeen little research conducted to discover the effects of such programson community college freshmen and sophomores.

    The states goal is to assist in recruiting, preparing, retaining, andproviding staff development for Mississippi teachers. The state wantsto ensure that teachers enter the classroom well prepared to teach.MACJC (2001) suggests collaborations between four-year colleges=universities and the community colleges while using mentoring,practicum in K-12 settings, and future teachers clubs as differentmeans of reaching this goal. Also in Mississippi, the recent legisla-tion that requires all assistant teachers in the state to have anassociates degree is putting pressure on the 15 community collegesin the state. These assistant teachers will likely attend communitycolleges to get those degrees. These colleges must either expand theirteacher preparation programs if they already have them or imple-ment such programs if they do not. Because this role is essentiallynew to the community colleges in Mississippi, there is little, if any,published research on teacher preparation at the community collegelevel.

    Big Brothers=Big Sisters of America offer a practical example ofeffective mentoring that school systems across the nation are quick toimitate. Studies of mentoring programs as a training technique forrecruiting and retaining teachers offer solutions to the teachershortage problem. Feiman-Nemser (1996) sees mentoring as a criticaltopic in education today. Mentoring is the favored strategy in U. S.policy initiatives that focuses on teacher training and induction.However, there are other important factors that should be studiedwhen considering teacher preparation programs. Factors as thenecessity of early field experiences (Huling, 2001), exposure to hands-on teaching experiences (Harris & Hodges, 1995), and the preserviceteachers anxiety and attitude about the profession are all importantto the development of good quality teachers (Fish, 1986; Gardner &Leak, 1994; Kobella, 1989).

    Huling (2001) asserts that the idea of providing early field experi-ences through mentoring programs at the community college level isvital to teacher retention and teacher success. Huling defines earlyfield experiences as those experiences prior to student teaching.A wide variety of early field experiences provide an environment forexperimental training of teachers. Huling (2001) further adds thatincreased amounts of field experiences yield a more comfortablebeginning teacher who is more likely to remain in the classroom.

    Another important factor in mentoring programs is the frameworkor theory that the mentoring teacher (master teacher) passes on to

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  • the mentored preservice teacher and the novice teacher. Many pre-service teachers learn from college faculty who follow the con-structivist theory (Savitz, 1999; Stuart & Thurlow, 2000) whileothers may learn from college faculty who follow the objectivisttheory. A constructivist is one who focuses on the process of buildingknowledge instead of the final product or outcome of a skill orbehavior (Harris & Hodges, 1995) . On the other hand, the objectivistfocuses on the final product or the outcome of the learning experi-ence. What is important to many traditional objectivist teachers isthe knowledge received as a final product or an outcome of anactivity. With constructivism, the focus shifts from the teacher (themaster teacher) to the student (the preservice teacher), and theclassroom becomes a place of active learning, where the studentconstructs knowledge while interacting with peers and adults(Lenski, Wham, & Griffey, 1998). Lenski et al. also point out thatthe principles of constructivism are fundamental to good teachingand provide a framework for developmentally appropriate practice inschools (p. 227). Constructivist practices encourage preserviceteachers to build on their own knowledge about the experience ofteaching and discover the best ways to teach and the best ways...

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