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School to develop ‘deeper learning’ pedagogies in two EdPrepLab-backed projects

School of Education faculty will collaborate with researchers at three other campuses to develop “deeper learning” pedagogies in educator-preparation programs in two projects backed by the Educator Preparation Laboratory, or EdPrepLab.

The projects will build upon and extend efforts at the School of Education to incorporate experiential learning practices in the Master of Arts in Teaching program and to incorporate new practices in a redesign of the Master of School Administration program.

“Our programs are constantly evolving with research-informed best practices,” said Diana Lys, assistant dean for educator preparation and accreditation at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Education. “These collaborations inform and support our ability to prepare teachers and school leaders for tomorrow’s classrooms.”

The School last year joined EdPrepLab, an initiative led by the Learning Policy Institute and Bank Street Graduate School of Education that works to help educator preparation programs ensure that new teachers and leaders enter classrooms able to provide the kind of education that helps students develop “deeper learning” skills, such as critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and the ability to apply knowledge in a range of contexts.

MSA project: Prepping principals for deeper learning

Carolina faculty leading the MSA program also won EdPrepLab funding to explore integrating deep learning principles and practices into principal-preparation work.

As part of a redesign of the MSA program, a team — which includes Martinette Horner and Chris Scott — has focused on developing intentional, engaging partnerships with local school districts for principal preparation and clinical practice. It is also working to integrate principles and practices of improvement science/continuous improvement into the program’s curriculum.

“A key objective of our project is to prepare future school leaders so that they are equipped to help develop and to support deeper learning practices in their schools,” said Horner, director of the MSA program.

In the EdPrepLab project, Carolina MSA faculty plan to develop with school and district partners deeper learning practices that can be incorporated into principal-preparation experiences. The project also seeks to develop more intentional partnership experiences that connect coursework to practice in partnership with schools and districts, creating opportunities to develop authentic leadership cases, inquiries, and to engage in leadership dilemmas.

The Carolina MSA team will collaborate with researchers at the University of Colorado Denver and the University of Illinois at Chicago who are engaging in similar work in partnership development in principal preparation.

MAT project: Aligning deeper learning with experiential education

Carolina faculty affiliated with the School’s MAT program, working with faculty at Trinity University in San Antonio and the University of Colorado Denver, will seek to develop deeper learning pedagogies in teacher education. Carolina faculty will focus on aligning experiential learning practices to support deeper learning, Trinity University faculty will focus on curricular elements that encourage deeper learning, and UCD faculty will focus on clinical experiences that foster deeper learning.

The UNC-Chapel Hill MAT team — which includes Kristin Papoi, Jocelyn Glazier and Cheryl Mason Bolick — will examine the MAT program’s use of experiential education components, seeking to infuse them with opportunities for pre-service teachers to engage with deeper learning skills.

Papoi, director of the MAT program, said: “This is an exceptionally unique opportunity to collaborate with teacher educators at the University of Colorado Denver and Trinity University around the collective inquiry of how our programs infuse research-based tenets of deeper learning into our work of preparing teachers, and how that aligns with our signature pedagogical approach of experiential education.”

Carolina’s 15-month MAT program includes experiential learning as a signature component, with students spending a week in an Outward Bound wilderness experience or in residency working at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. The immersive experiences are designed to enable pre-service teachers to experience modes of teaching that extend beyond classrooms and to challenge didactic models of teaching.

“Rather than lecture or read about experiential learning, we have our pre-service teachers live it,” Bolick said. “This way they can feel the power of experiential learning and see ways to incorporate it into their own teaching. ”

The Carolina researchers will conduct a literature review examining the relationship between experiential learning and deeper learning and survey MAT candidates to learn about their perceptions of experiential learning and deeper learning. The project also will include collection of data to examine how deeper learning principles emerge as students engage in various experiential opportunities across the MAT program.

EdPrepLab seeks innovation in deeper learning

EdPrepLab is a network of 15 of the nation’s leading teacher and principal preparation programs, collaborating on developing models for preparation that equip educators for deeper learning and that can be replicated at other educator-preparation programs.

EdPrepLab is co-led by Learning Policy Institute, a national institute focused on conducting and disseminating research to improve education policy and practice, and Bank Street Graduate School of Education, a leader in teacher and principal preparation and the development of innovative education practices.

EdPrepLab’s work is, in part, informed by the book “Preparing Teachers for Deeper Learning.” In the book, the authors — led by Linda Darling-Hammond and Jeannie Oakes — examine the teacher preparation model of Bank Street Graduate School of Education, as well as the models at six of the programs now among the founding programs of EdPrepLab.

EdPrepLab organizers describe classrooms in which deeper learning is the goal as being characterized by challenging academic content that is paired with engaging, experiential and innovative learning experiences. Those experiences are designed to equip students with skills to find, analyze and apply knowledge in new and emerging contexts and situations, preparing them for college, work, civic participation, and lifelong learning.

Learn more about EdPrepLab at