August 19

Focus Questions

  1. What is the purpose of this class?
  2. How does that purpose get carried out?
  3. What is the student's responsibility in this process?
  4. Who is the professor?
  5. Who are the students?

What is the purpose of this class?

Critical Investigation of Teaching and Learning in Today's Schools is exactly that, a critical investigation. This class is a broad overview of education in the United States. Education is a word that is used to describe many things: a social institution, a profession, a system of schools and programs, an exchange between a teacher and students, a personal journey.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school. Albert Einstein

In this class we will look at three primary areas of education:
  • Education as a social institution: The historical, cultural, and socioeconomic influences that have shaped what education is today
  • Education as a profession: The philosophies, structure, governance, funding, leadership, ethics and laws that influence how teachers do their jobs
  • Education as a discipline: The role of the teacher in planning instruction and assessment for student learning

How will this purpose be carried out?

In order for students to understand these broad categories of education and how they influence teaching and learning, this class will be centered around three big activities:
  • Class lecture and discussion: I will present topics about education and the students will use these presentations as a knowledge-building resource. The topics we discuss will be parallel with and beyond the assigned readings. These class meetings are meant to be participatory.
  • School observations: Students will observe in 12 different schools throughout the semester. These observations will allow you to see a wide variety of schools, teaching strategies, approaches to teaching, and students from many different backgrounds. In some cases, you will see concrete examples of the concepts you are learning in class. Students will take notes during the field observations and write a reflection about each school visit.
  • Lab/Discussion: Students will meet in small groups with the TAs on Fridays to discuss what they observed and learned from the school observations. Everyone should bring their observation notes and reflection to class as a basis for the discussion. The students will also participate in activities that build up on the course concepts and help them experience the content in a different way. Attendance and participation are mandatory for these sessions.
  • Assignments: There will be several assignments for assessing your understanding of the concepts we address in the course. There will three exams that align with each of the three main sections of the course. Exams will address content from assigned readings and lecture material. Each exam will consist of multiple choice, matching, fill-in-the-blank, and short answer. There will also be three papers for this class, which will address the lives of teachers, a review of current research in education, and a final synthesis. You will also compile a notebook with all of the notes from your observations.


I believe in good manners and professional behavior. I also believe in honesty and ethical behavior. Below are my expectations for you as students.
  • Attendance: I expect every student to attend every class meeting, observation and lab/discussion day. The university does not interfere with absences by describing what is, or is not, an excused absence. If you are on a sports team or group that has to travel for a competition or performance, you will need to be proactive and give me the date of every travel date before the end of the first week. Any other absence is not excused. Period. There is no possible way to reenact the events from a missed day of class, so it will be up to you find a way to get the information you missed. Here is a breakdown of attendance:
    • Class lecture/discussion: I take attendance but there is no attendance grade. The material I cover will be on the test. If that matters to you, some to class and take notes. I do not post my lecture material to eCollege, so if you miss you will have to get notes from a classmate.
    • School observations: Since these occur on specific days and times, you will have to make up missed observations on your own time. This means contacting the school principal and scheduling a time to go to the school and observe for an hour. I will not schedule make-up observations for you.
    • Lab/Discussion: During these meetings you will discuss the observations and other class content, as well do activities that follow up with things we discussed in class. Attendance is not graded but the activities you do during this time are. If you miss the activities, they cannot be made up. Missing class on these days will negatively impact your grade in the class.
  • Academic Integrity: I expect complete honesty on everything you do for this class. Any instances of academic or personal dishonesty will dealt with quickly and severely. This includes, but is not limited to:
    • Cheating
    • Collusion
    • Plagiarism: All papers will be scanned by TurnItIn when up you upload them, and any paper with a report of more than 10% will be considered suspicious.
    • Lying/Misrepresentation/Deceit
  • Class Behavior: In addition to coming to class and doing your own work, I expect everyone to be considerate and participate. Be warned, I will call you out. This includes:
    • Talking
    • Texting or surfing
    • Getting up in the middle of class
    • Arriving late or leaving early


Success in this class will depend greatly on your ability to find information and use eCollege. This is where you find assignment descriptions, see grade postings, submit assignments, and read updates and announcements.
  • Course Home
  • Assignments
  • Resources
  • Dropbox
  • File Sharing

A little about me

Who are you?