News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 6, 2012

Education program garners reaccreditation


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TERRE HAUTE — A national teacher education organization has reaccredited Indiana State University’s technology and engineering education program.

The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has reaccredited the program through 2020. The recognition indicates that the ISU program meets the national standards set by NCATE, said Kara Harris, associate professor of applied engineering and technology management and coordinator of the technology and engineering education program. The national accreditation allows for program graduates to more easily attain licensures in other states in order to teach technology and engineering in middle and high schools, Harris said.

“It’s a big selling point for our students that they probably don’t realize when they’re looking at schools,” she added. “But when they hit that graduation mark and they’re looking at options as far as where they want to be, it opens up a lot of doors for them, especially being this close to Illinois.”

The technology and engineering education program has undergone changes in recent years that likely facilitated reaccreditation, Harris said. The program has placed a stronger emphasis on engineering coursework, she added, and some students enroll in the program while also seeking different majors to make themselves more marketable.

“We have made our coursework more flexible so students can also achieve a double major while pursuing an education major and still graduate in a reasonable amount of time,” Harris said.

Aspiring educators also attain a great deal of practical experience in the technology and engineering education program. Enrolled students take some coursework in the Bayh College of Education, which includes their student teaching requirements. Yet outreach experiences and community engagement opportunities are incorporated in the classes students take in the College of Technology.

Students in recent classes have worked with the Terre Haute Children’s Museum on providing programming for the young museum visitors and Indiana State students have worked with schools in Vigo and Sullivan counties.

“Depending upon which course it is, the areas we focus on will vary, and they change because the nature of technology changes and the needs of the community change,” Harris said. “We change our outreach opportunities each time we offer a course.”

The program submitted its report last spring before receiving word about the nearly decade-long reaccreditation. The NCATE standards are beneficial, as they provide benchmarks “so we know what we’re teaching is relevant to the rest of the nation,” as people from around the country review the program and provide perspective as part of the accrediting process, Harris said.

The accrediting organization reviews a combination of programming curriculum, field experience and community engagement requirements and standardized test scores in the review process, along with connections to professionals in the field.

“They’re also looking to make sure that students are getting links to professional organizations, so that we are not only giving our students content,” Harris added, “but we’re also arming them with those tools that they’re going to need once they get out there in the professional community to continue their learning.”