Apr 16th, 2012 @ 1:16 pm | Author: Dr. Steve Shirley
Over the last two months, readers of this column have learned about each of the academic divisions at VCSU. This week we focus on the School of Education and Graduate Studies (known as "SEGS").

The programs in this school, under the direction of Dr. Gary Thompson, comprise the largest student enrollment, and include VCSU's Master of Education (M.Ed.) program as well as the Great Plains STEM Education Center. With approximately 700 students currently enrolled in SEGS programs, more than half of the students at VCSU are in education fields.

The School of Education and Graduate Studies touches the lives of people in the community through its involvement in area schools. VCSU students complete practicum hours and student teaching, and faculty work with K-12 teachers to embed field experiences in methods courses. Several examples include the Math Field Day at Washington School and the Fluency Project at Jefferson School this year.

As a partner in a Bush Foundation grant designed to develop high-quality teachers, SEGS faculty have teamed with local K-12 teachers and administrators to identify and promote the best teaching practices for aspiring teachers. Some of their work includes developing a strategies handbook for teaching more effectively by focusing on assessment, English language learners, differentiating instruction, and using technology in the classroom, increasing collaboration with K-12 teachers through a co-teaching model, and implementing a Teacher Performance Assessment for new teachers.

SEGS faculty have presented the co-teaching model to the West Fargo Association of Teacher Educators and to teachers and faculty in area schools in Barnes County. As leaders in educational organizations such as the North Dakota Association of Teacher Educators and the North Dakota Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, they have also presented at conferences, including the Council for Exceptional Children, Fargo Teachers of the Gifted, North Dakota Association for Career and Technical Education, and the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education conference.

VCSU's Graduate Program is housed in SEGS. Started in 2006, the Master of Education program has grown rapidly to an enrollment of approximately 150 students (over 10% of VCSU's total enrollment is now comprised of graduate students). The program is 100% online, making an M.Ed. accessible to students across the state who may not be able to participate in a traditional face-to-face program. Students may concentrate in Technology Education, Library & Information Technologies, Teaching English Language Learners, or Teaching & Technology.

The Great Plains STEM Education Center is also part of SEGS. The Center's goal is to transform teaching and learning, by developing cross-discipline teaching methods that help students improve their understanding of STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). The Center provides a number of teacher workshops, offers STEM Education coursework, and sponsors Lego and Robotics curriculum for K-12 students.

Since VCSU began as a Normal School in 1890, and for many years was known as "Valley City State Teacher's College," the strength of the education programs and their impact on the region is not surprising. The School of Education and Graduate Studies has been continuously accredited through the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) since 1954. It has been recognized for exemplary work in the integration of technology standards into the elementary education program, and has been recognized with multiple distinguished awards. As technology continues to evolve, the SEGS programs at VCSU continue to explore and innovate, dedicated to assuring quality teaching and learning in the 21st century.