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GSE Instructor Handbook: Preparing to Teach

Graduate Environment

In fall 1991, the School of Education became solely a graduate school. In reviewing its goals and mission, the faculty reaffirmed its priority to offer high quality educational offerings. One of the key elements in ensuring academic excellence and integrity is to hire qualified faculty and instructors. A critical component in the selection process is the individual's academic credentials. The Graduate School of Education recognizes the importance of hiring faculty who have both current experience in the field and strong academic preparation, especially to teach professional development courses.

Graduate study is oriented toward scholarship, research, and professional training. At the graduate level, the students are members of a community of scholars and professionals working on the discovery and communication of knowledge. The programs provide opportunities for advanced study and specialization and instill methods of independent investigation. As a result of the close association and advanced study and research, graduate students achieve an intellectual independence and maturity, which serves them after graduation.

The Graduate-Level Course

A graduate course includes significant work in addition to classroom work and basic readings. Substantial projects generated through research and/or creative activity are encouraged.

Guidelines for Preparing a Syllabus

  1. Follow existing syllabi. Your course is part of a larger, well-designed program. For most courses, a syllabus has been developed by program faculty with course objectives that are linked to program objectives and competencies. It is important that you address these objectives in your course. While every instructor has some freedom to choose the methods of instruction and evaluation, it is important that your course follow the purpose stated in the PSU Bulletin and covers content tied to important program goals. Substantive course changes require a formal approval process.

    If your course is an experimental or professional development course, discuss the objectives with your department chair, program director, or Continuing Education programmer.

  2. Submit your syllabus to your department chair for review. The chair (or, in some cases, the program coordinator) must approve the syllabus before copies are duplicated for your class.

  3. Follow the prescribed format for syllabi. The Graduate School of Education has developed a format for a course syllabus, which includes the Graduate School of Education mission, goals, and conceptual framework. We encourage you to weave these into course objectives, content, and evaluation/assessment of student learning. You can download the GSE syllabus template (also available on the GSE assessment forms page).

    We also use -- and encourage our students to use -- APA Style when preparing materials for classes. For help with APA Style see Purdue's APA Style Page (Purdue Owl).

We have provided a sample syllabus online (PDF) and a table-based Conceptual Framework for use in syllabi.

Syllabus Toolkit

See our Syllabus Toolkit for complete syllabus materials for instructors, including Oregon Administrative Rules; copy-and-paste GSE and PSU policy statements; header, course schedule, and other template files; and links to Oregon and national standards documents.

Assessment of Student Learning

Assessment of student learning is a primary responsibility of every Portland State University faculty member. The University is in the process of transitioning from a focus on providing courses to assessing and ensuring student learning outcomes.

All instructors should:

  • Align their assessment to course objectives.
  • Make objectives and the criteria for evaluating performance clear at the outset of instruction.
  • Think of multiple ways to assess learning and be prepared to make accommodations for those who have unique disabilities or learning challenges.
  • Give timely feedback. Evaluate and give back assignments and tests as soon as possible. (The most effective feedback is immediate.)
  • Encourage students to evaluate their own work using the criteria you will use to assess their work.
  • Give feedback throughout the term. Don’t assign all work for completion and return at the end of term. It is important that students get feedback on their work early enough to make improvements in their performance.
  • Develop a system for evaluating and recording data on student work. If you need help with this, your faculty mentor or the Associate Dean for Academics can assist you.
  • Use assessment of student work to evaluate your own teaching. Which concepts and principles did students seem to understand best? In what ways could you improve the presentation of concepts and principles that seemed unclear to students?

Using Tk20

Instructors:

Tk20 is the online data management and assessment system that we are using in the GSE. We use this system for advising, collecting information about and tracking field experiences, licensure, and key assignments for some of our courses. Please check with your program coordinator and/or department chair before your course begins to determine whether or not your course has a key assignment and assessment set up in Tk20. You can get information about your Tk20 user name and password by sending an email to tkhelp@pdx.edu, as well as assistance resetting passwords and learning how to use the system. Help guides are available (including a link to help videos and step-by-step guides) at www.pdx.edu/education/tk20-help. Tk20 can also be used as a place for students to access course documents such as syllabi and readings, and a place for you to set up assignments or quizzes. Please email tkhelp@pdx.edu if you would like to learn to use these options.

University supervisors:

Tk20 is the online data management and assessment system that we are using in the GSE. We use this system for advising, collecting information about and tracking field experiences, licensure, and key assignments for some of our courses. Field experience forms that are required for licensure are sent through Tk20 so that you can access them online. Forms need to be fully completed and submitted by the end of each term. You can get information about your Tk20 user name and password by sending an email to tkhelp@pdx.edu, as well as assistance resetting passwords and learning how to use the system. Help guides are available (including a link to help videos and step-by-step guides) at www.pdx.edu/education/tk20-help. In addition, PDF versions of these forms are available online at www.pdx.edu/education/information-university-supervisors-and-cohort-leaders.