Student perspectives of transfer from an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree to a Bachelor's degree in Teacher Education
Davis-Smith, Annette E.
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ABSTRACT Teacher education programs have a direct effect on the quality and number of teachers that enter the job market. What begins as a promising career can become short term, if the teacher is poorly prepared. Teacher education programs are in need of varying structures in order to meet the demands of the twenty-first century. Teacher attrition rates are increasing and there is yet another teacher shortage that is eminent. There still remains a lack of diversity within the teaching force, which affects students in states with high immigration rates and diverse student populations. Community colleges are stepping up to help meet this need and be a significant part in better preparing future teachers. Many are offering a two-year pre-service teacher program, the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree (AAT), which helps students seamlessly transfer into a four-year university teacher education program. The community college program viewed in this study offers clinical experiences and practicums that help future teachers not only make the commitment to teach, but also exposes them to intricacies of the career they are seeking. The purpose of this study is to explore and gain an understanding of how graduates of an Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT) program who have transferred to a four-year university, experience their teacher education programs. In addition, the researcher was exploring student perspectives on aspects of the program that could possibly help or hinder their success. Five AAT graduates were selected and interviewed, their student records examined, and archived observation notes of their course participation were analyzed. The areas of focus in these data sources included academic advising, AAT course curriculum, transfer experiences, and barriers they faced that could have caused them to fail. The data analysis revealed that the graduates felt the AAT program was effective in helping them to be successful. They felt prepared with self-confidence going into the university setting, along with the bonds of friendship they formed. Also revealed was the partnership between the community college (RCC) and the university (WTU) and how this successful partnership helped create a solid pipeline for students to transition and transfer successfully. Through the use of articulation agreements, both institutions were able to collaborate effectively, which translated to the benefit of the student. Students that enter the AAT degree completed their university programs, and ultimately achieved their teacher certification. Overall, the results showed that the AAT degree is doing what was meant to do effectively.