Experiential Learning

Excellent teaching requires hours of intensive clinical practice in real classrooms, with real students, informed by the best research. This clinical model is the heart of our program.

– Kevin Gary, Ph.D., Professor of Education

Beginning in their first course, future teachers learn by spending time in the schools. This work is supervised by expert teachers who give thoughtful feedback and mentorship. Most importantly, the fieldwork is structured intentionally throughout the curriculum.

Graduated Participation

As Valpo students advance through the program, they spend more hours in field settings, and work in capacities of increasing responsibility and autonomy. For example, in the undergraduate teacher education program:

  • First Year – 20 hours of observation is integrated into the first year coursework
  • Second Year 40 hours
  • Third Year 40 hours
  • Fourth Year – 100 hours
  • TOTAL 200 hours

Professional Preparation

Current research has identified 19 “high-leverage” teaching practices — fundamental skills that positively impact student learning. Throughout Valpo’s education program, future teachers practice these skills in real classrooms. By the time they graduate, they have had experience with all of them, from setting up small group work to leading a whole-class discussion.

Diverse Representation

From Valpo’s Northwest Indiana campus, education students can visit incredibly diverse school settings – affluent and under-resourced; rural, urban, and suburban.

Each Valpo student receives field experience in 45 schools, and the department faculty are intentional about placing students in varied field settings.

In the Field

In connection with the practice component of all programs in education, students experience the following:

1) Development and on-going application of the high leverage teaching practices that constitute excellent teaching.

2) Mentoring feedback from both the cooperating teacher and a university supervisor.

These are the two key components whereby we prepare world-class teachers.