Why a Teaching Degree Is Easy as 1-2-3
Having experienced firsthand the ease of a teaching program, I wasn’t surprised by the results of a recent National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) study, which examined the demands of teacher training programs. Like many pre-service teachers, I knew that if I was to become an effective teacher, it wouldn’t be due to the rigors of my program. Here is an example of an assignment I completed during graduate school.
The assignment was to explain some differentiated instruction techniques I planned to use in the classroom—by drawing a cartoon. This is what I turned in:
Clearly, I’m not an artist, but still, this is absolute nonsense—I received minimal points off. This is the kind of assignment the NCTQ would refer to as criterion-deficient. Criterion-deficient assignments are broad in scope and may be difficult for instructors to give high-level feedback. Unlike assignments that allow instructors to measure mastery of knowledge or skills, criterion-deficient assignments are subjective. How could an instructor give high-level feedback to the above garbage?
The NCTQ found that on average 71 percent of grades in teacher preparation courses rely heavily on criterion-deficient assignments. The study also found there is a correlation between the percentage of criterion-deficient assignments and high grades—teacher candidates are 50 percent more likely to receive honors at graduation than candidates with other majors.
I hope these embarrassing findings are a sign to universities that they should stop focusing on reflective assignments that are subjective in nature and, instead, build an environment of rigor that will ultimately draw more quality students to the teaching profession.