Pre-Estate Major Issue: Undergraduate Elementary Education






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IR Addendum

Exhibit 2.4.21 Report on Undergraduate Elementary Education Advisement: Fall 2013


This report was written in order to address concerns related to: 1) enrollment in the undergraduate education program,

2) retention of undergraduate education majors, and

3) the advisement process for undergraduate education majors.

The above concerns about undergraduate education majors at WCSU are also reflected in the following recent reports or articles related to problems

undergraduate students are experiencing throughout Connecticut and the nation: 1) WCSU NEASC Self Study 2013 Concerns:

The following enrollment and retention problems were cited in the NEASC report: i. Enrollment growth through recruitment and retention essential to continued

financial health

ii. Ongoing attention to retention and graduation rates necessary

2) Danbury New Timesarticle, Dec. 22, 2913 (“College Enrollment Down Overall in Connecticut”)

In this article about the new enrollment management team, Paul Steinmetz stated that WCSU will “look at everything this university does that touches students to improve the student experience.”

3) New York Times article, January 8, 2014 (“How to Help College Students Graduate”)

In this article about helping college students graduate, the authors report that in order to raise graduation rates, “universities need to give undergraduates the care and attention akin to what’s lavished on students elite institutions”. A major focus of the article is about providing students with supportive, personal one on one

advisement that helps students “master tough courses, decoding arcane requirements for a major, sorting out life problems or navigating the maze of institutional requirements.”


General Findings A. Background

Every Pre Ed elementary major was contacted by the advisor in the fall except one who withdrew from the university. Most students had more than one meeting with each student because of registrations problems and/or they changed their content area major or they dropped the education major. At these meetings, the advisor reviewed the Education program requirements, program sheets, registration process, fingerprinting/ Tk20 requirements, PRAXIS I and II, and oriented them to the university. Frequently, students wanted general advisement about other aspects of university life, such as Financial Aid, housing problems and other career options. B. Pre Ed Elementary Majors Enrollment (Freshmen)

1) As of January 12, 2014, there are approximately 47% fewer Pre Education majors (Freshmen) than there were in September 2013. Note: there are 20 Pre Elementary Education majors for spring whereas there were 34 (not including transfers) in the fall. Note: these numbers are unofficial and the Education Department leadership should ask Jerry Wilcox for an official number after the second week of the spring semester when enrollment numbers are more reliable.

2) Pre Ed majors (Freshmen) dropped the Education major for a variety of reasons: *One student withdrew from the university.

*A few students said they decided to drop the elementary education major because they have heard there are no elementary teaching jobs available and because of the high stress levels associated with current education reforms in the public schools, such as Common Core and the new teacher evaluation system. Students who have family and friends in the public schools were most likely to cite this as the reason for dropping the education major.

*Several students switched to social work, psychology, or HPX because it was “a better fit” or because students could not find an academic content area major they wanted to pursue (i.e. math, English).

*Several students are very confused about which major they wish to pursue so they switched to “undeclared”.

* A few experienced academic difficulties with one or more General Education classes or content major classes so they dropped the Education major.


C. Pre Elementary Education Issues

1) As cited in the NY Times article, most of the Freshmen Elementary Pre Education majors can not “decode the arcane requirements” of the WCSU education major which is really a double major. Although they want to be public school elementary teachers, they had not familiarized themselves with the program requirements nor had they seen or reviewed the program sheets before they met with their advisor in September. Consequently, the students needed their advisor to review the program sheets, content area course sequences and pre- requisites, and discuss other majors they may want to pursue if they do not stay with the Education program

2) In general, the most difficult concept for Pre Education majors to grasp is that they have to declare a content area major, such as English or math. When the advisor focused students’ attention on the content major requirements, several students changed their content area majors. For example, many of them dropped the Math major once they saw the advanced level math classes they would have to take.

3) Admissions/Banner issue: the current admissions process still does not

adequately address the need for Pre Education majors to declare which content area they are pursuing. The current on line admissions form does not explain to Pre Education majors that the Education major is a double major, and, therefore, they must also click on a content area major. The content area major designation is critical for advisement since each student must have an advisor in his/her content area. Over the summer, in order to ascertain this information, the advisor contacted every Pre Education major by phone or email. Then, she worked with Carla Netto and her staff to manually input that information into Banner.

4) The computer schedule that is generated in the registrar’s office over the spring and summer sometimes places Education students in unnecessary or unsuitable classes. For example, one Pre Education major was placed in General Education classes that are not required, such as computer science and political science. These scheduling errors have a serious impact on Education majors because it is almost impossible to finish the program in four years even when students must complete all required General Education, content area major courses as well as the Education courses.

5) If Pre Education students do not get placed into the proper sequence of courses in their content area during the freshman year, they run the risk of not being able to complete the program in four years. This is especially true for transfer Education majors who do not take the required content area courses at their community


6) “Hidden” pre-requisites that are not listed on the program sheets must be explained to Pre Education majors. For example, Math 098 and Math 100 do not appear on program sheets but they are pre requisites for required courses, such as MAT 105. However, the list of pre requisites is only listed in the undergraduate catalog which is only available on line.

7) Most freshmen have difficulty with courses in their content area major and General Education courses, not Education courses. Some General Education classes are very difficult for Freshman Education majors, such as GEO 100. One 18 year old reported that most of the students in her GEO 100 class were much older (in their twenties and thirties). She was failing GEO 100 by mid semester but the professor would not let her drop the class.

8) Most Pre Education majors have a general lack of understanding about General Education classes. Examples, they do not know what the “Humanities” designation on the program sheet means, and they are not familiar with classes in that category, such as philosophy, anthropology and humanistic studies. Consequently, a great deal of time is spent with freshmen defining these terms and going through the

undergraduate catalog to find suitable General Education classes.

9) Honors students who are Education majors have four additional courses they must take for the Honors program yet there is no room for these course on the Education program sheet. That almost adds one semester to the Honors students program.

10) The following registration issues posed difficulties for Pre Education and Education majors:

*Restrictions/pre requisites for ED 206, EPY 203/204, (such as the designation for Education major vs. Pre Education major) prevented students from registering for classes. Example, the advisor had to work with Carla Netto on behalf of Pre

Elementary Ed/history majors who must take HIS 100. That course was restricted to History or Secondary Ed history majors and would not allow Pre Ed history majors to register. Carla had to manually override the system so that Pre Ed students could enroll in HIS 100.

*Transfer Education majors student can not register for Education classes with GPA restrictions because their GPA’s from previous colleges are not in the system; therefore, Education majors require an override to register for required Education classes, such as ED 206, EPY 203/204.

* There is a time lag when students submit their change of major forms and when this change is inputted into Banner. If a student’s major is not listed correctly in Banner, he/she can not register for classes in their content area.



1) Expedite the adoption of the IDM (Interdisciplinary Model) for Elementary Education; the current academic major coursework is outdated and does not provide adequate preparation for future elementary classroom teachers. Furthermore, the academic major coursework does not prepare Elementary Education students for the Elementary Education PRAXIS II. The academic major requirement IS appropriate for Secondary Education majors, however. 2) Continue the revision of the General Education requirements for Elementary

Education majors; as has been discussed in several committees, there are too many requirements for Elementary Education majors, and additional

requirements, such as EPY 204, are being added. Furthermore, “hidden” pre requisites, such as MAT 098 and MAY 100, are not listed for MAT 106 and MAT 106.

3) Require Pre Education majors to met with an Education advisor over the summer before the semester begins to review program requirements and to select courses. 100% of Freshmen reported that they would have liked a meeting with an Education advisor in the summer when they could have participated in the selection of their classes for Fall.

4) Where possible, Pre Education majors should be assigned to classes in some kind of cohort model, especially in the first semester. Freshmen would benefit from attending classes with other Education majors in the Fall when they are adjusting to all the changes that are associated with college life. Education Department leadership could hand schedule Pre Education majors vs. the current computerized process for assigning Pre Education majors to classes.

5) Maintain the Pre Education advisement office on mid town. The location of the midtown office is more user friendly for Pre Education majors because they don’t have to travel to the West Side where the Education Department is located. Also, the mid town office enables the Pre Ed advisor to communicate more quickly with the Associate Dean, the admissions and registrar’s office personnel about student records, such as transcripts.

6) Transfer students should also be required to meet with an advisor in order to select classes. Education transfer students lose many credits from the

previous colleges where they take many general classes. Every Education transfer student reported that the program sheet was mailed to them without any explanation about credits that do not count toward the

Education major. All transfer students said they wish someone had reviewed their credits and the program sheet with them.


so that students clearly indicate their content area major; currently, the content area major does not appear on Pre Education students’ Banner information.

8) Education Department leadership should meet with the Honors program Coordinator to determine if the extra Honors classes that Education majors take can count toward General Education course requirements.

9) Education Department leadership should meet with the registrar to determine when transfer student grades from previous colleges can be inputted into Banner so that they can register for Education classes that have a GPA requirement.

10) Education Department leadership should meet with the Registrar to expedite the change of major process so that students do not encounter difficulties when registering for classes after they have changed their major. 11) Open/close restrictions and pre requisites for Education classes must be

reviewed before the master schedule goes “live” so students do not encounter course restriction problems during the registration process. 12) Continue the Pre Education advisement process with one advisor who

oversees all Pre Education majors.

13) Provide additional hard copies of undergraduate catalog so that students can peruse it with their advisors. For freshmen, the on line version is difficult to access and to navigate because it is so large.


Pre Education majors need a great deal of support in order to understand the complexities of the current Education major and to maintain a 3.0 GPA. The

recommendations listed above will make the Education major more manageable. If these changes are made, WCSU will address two of the most important NEASC concerns listed in the 2013 report-enrollment and retention rates- because more Education students will successfully complete the Education program in four years.

Submitted by: Adeline B. Merrill Pre Education Advisor January 14, 2014





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