The BOE team typically spends most of the first day of the onsite visit conducting interviews with individuals and groups. Interviews help team members (1) verify information in the institutional report, exhibits, and IR addendum and (2) clarify areas of concern related to the standards. Many of the questions are specific to the unit and revolve around the knowledge that the BOE has gained during the offsite review, in the IR addendum, and also while onsite. Other questions help the BOE team understand the perceptions of key stakeholders regarding the extent to which the unit is meeting professional, state, and institutional standards.
The interview schedule is developed jointly by the team chair(s), state consultant, and institutional representatives. The template for the visit suggests timeframes for interviews, but these may need to be modified to ensure that key persons can be interviewed. If someone is not available for an interview, the BOE chair should make arrangements to meet with an acceptable substitute.
In addition to prearranged meetings with groups and individuals, the BOE team may need to schedule additional interviews as follow-up to third-party testimony received, to gather more data on areas of concern, to resolve
conflicting information, or simply to ensure that adequate input is received from all parties. The template for the BOE visit also includes open interview sessions with faculty and candidates. During the previsit, the team chair should remind institutional representatives to disseminate broadly the time and location of the open interviews and the fact that the sessions are open only to respective members of each group. The names of faculty and candidates who attend these sessions must be included in the “Persons Interviewed” section of the onsite BOE report.
During the onsite visit, BOE team members interview a number of individuals who can describe the ways in which the unit meets standards. The questions asked should clarify and expand on information read in the institutional report, exhibits, and the IR addendum documents. The questions should be related to the standards. Key individuals who should be interviewed include:
- The chief executive officer (i.e., president or chancellor),
- The chief academic officer at the institution (i.e., provost or vice president),
- The head of the professional education unit (e.g., dean, director, or chair),
- The director of clinical/laboratory/internship experiences,
- An affirmative action officer or equivalent,
- The person in charge of admission to the unit,
- Counselors and advisors to education candidates,
- The director of field experiences,
- Selected faculty and administrators in education and other units at the institution,
- Deans of other units involved in preparing candidates,
- The NCATE coordinator at the institution,
- Selected internship supervisors, and
- Selected principals of P-12 schools where candidates complete field experiences.
If the unit does not have persons working in one or more of the roles listed above, then the BOE chair should schedule interviews with persons in the unit whose responsibilities most closely match those of the listed positions. Not all persons listed above may need to be interviewed at every onsite visit, but the BOE chair and the unit should work together to determine who are the most critical interviewees.
Team members are expected to interview school personnel who are involved with the unit as employers of graduates, student teacher or internship supervisors, members of a professional development school (PDS) team, participants in joint research sites, recipients of in-service by the unit, advisory board members, and graduates. These interviews often are conducted in participating P-12 schools. Some of these interviews occur when team members visit P-12 schools in which interns are assigned and/or collaborative efforts exist with the unit. Teachers, principals, and other professional school personnel may also come to campus to meet with the team. The team chair may arrange to conduct telephone or interactive video interviews with administrators, cooperating teachers, and interns/candidates in schools that are located so far from campus that travel to the site is not reasonable.
In addition to individual interviews, the team conducts group interviews with candidates, university faculty, internship supervisors, university and school administrators, and other members of the professional education community. Arrangements for these interviews should be made prior to the onsite visit. Types of questions that the BOE may ask during the group interviews are outlined below.
A. Group Interview with Initial Teacher Preparation Candidates:
- What kinds of teachers do your professors strive to produce?
- What links do you see between your courses? Between courses and field experiences?
- What types of knowledge and skills have you learned to help you teach students from diverse backgrounds?
- What technological skills have you learned that will help you have a positive effect on student learning? In what ways do your professors integrate technology into their courses?
- What information and techniques are you learning that will help you in today’s classrooms?
- What are the different phases in your program? How do you move from one phase to the next?
- What assessments do you complete as you move through your program? How are the assessments used in your program?
B. Group Interview with Faculty:
- What kinds of teachers do you strive to produce? What are their characteristics?
- What aspects of your unit were developed as a result of collaborative work with faculty members from other programs and departments on campus? With clinical faculty based in P–12 schools? [Prompt: development of conceptual framework(s), assessment system, and clinical experiences]
- How do you know that your candidates are able to work effectively with students from diverse backgrounds?
- What factors (internal and external) have the most impact on your teaching? [Prompt: conferences, conceptual framework, assessment system, etc.] How is technology integrated into your courses?
- How do the your assessments link to the unit’s conceptual framework?
- How do you identify candidates who are not meeting program requirements? What strategies do you use in working with these candidates?
C. Group Interview with School-Based Faculty
- To what extent are candidates adequately prepared by this program to be effective teachers? What are the strengths and challenges?
- As mentor teachers, what types of assessment do you use to determine candidate learning? To what extent did you collaborate with university faculty to design and implement these assessments?
- What criteria do you use to evaluate candidate abilities to work with diverse students?
- What type of teachers do you strive to produce? What characteristics describe these teachers?
- To what extent do you help to plan and evaluate the field experiences component of the program? Can you provide an example of when the unit was responsive to suggestions for improvement?
D. Group Interview with Members of a Teacher Education Advisory Committee:
- How do you know when candidates are ready to be recommended for licensure?
- How is the unit fostering collaborative efforts within the professional community? What have been the opportunities for collaborative effort? [Prompts: development of conceptual frameworks, development of assessment system and instruments, development of field experiences and clinical internships]
- How has the faculty benefited from professional development activities provided by the unit? What training is provided for clinical faculty?
- What do your evaluations tell you about the availability and use of resources for the preparation of teachers, especially in reference to technology? What other types of information have you learned from your evaluations?
- What are the best indicators you currently have that demonstrate candidate growth and development in content and pedagogical knowledge?
- How are internship supervisors selected and evaluated?
E. Group Interview with P–12 Administrators:
- What role do you play in the planning of field-based experiences of candidates? In selecting mentor teachers or other internship supervisors?
- What are the learning expectations for candidates completing field experiences in your schools?
- How are candidate proficiencies assessed during the field experiences? during clinical practice?
- What are the strengths of most candidates from XYZ University? In what areas would the candidates benefit from more instruction? In what ways is the unit responsive to suggestions for improvement?
- Who participates in evaluations of the clinical practices? What have been the major findings?
F. Group Interview with Initial Teacher Education Program Graduates:
- In what areas of teaching were you best prepared by your teacher education program? [Prompts: Developing units and writing lesson plans, content knowledge, assessment, collaborating with peers, classroom management, etc.]
- In what areas of teaching would you like to have had more instruction? [Prompts: Developing units and writing lesson plans, assessment, collaborating with peers, classroom management, etc.]
- In what ways did you benefit from the field experiences?
- In what ways did your teacher education program prepare you to work effectively with students from diverse backgrounds?
- What aspects, if any, of the faculty’s teaching do you attempt to copy in your own teaching?
G. Group Interview with Advanced Teacher Preparation Program Candidates:
- In what ways are you or will you be a better teacher as a result of your master’s program?
- How has your program helped you to be more effective with diverse learners?
- How are you using technology in your classroom? In what ways do your professors integrate technology into their courses?
- What are the different phases in your program? How do you move from one phase to the next? What type of field-based projects does your program require?
- How are the assessments used in your program?
H. Group Interview with Graduates from Non-Teaching Programs:
- In what ways has your program prepared you to handle your job effectively?
- In which aspects of your job, if any, would you have liked to have had more instruction?
- In what ways did your program prepare you to work effectively with students, parents, and communities from diverse backgrounds?
- How, if in any ways, were you influenced by the faculty, particularly their teaching and assessment techniques?
The institution is responsible for inviting participants to the group interviews, but team members may want to arrange follow-up interviews with some of the individual participants in the group interviews to collect additional information. Teams need not limit their interviews to the persons scheduled for individual or group interviews. They should also talk to candidates in the halls, P-12 school settings, and student lounges. When they are visiting P-12 schools, they will have the opportunity to talk with practitioners who have not been included in other interviews. These interviews will confirm findings and sometimes raise important questions for further investigation. Teams usually interview the following groups:
- Candidates in initial teacher preparation programs,
- Teachers in master’s programs,
- Candidates preparing for other school personnel roles,
- Candidates who are leaders in student professional education associations,
- Education faculty,
- Internship supervisors,
- Principals and personnel directors from area schools,
- Members of policy and advisory committees, and
- Members of unit committees (e.g., assessment committee).
The number of persons in a group interview typically should not exceed eight to ten in order to allow everyone the opportunity to participate. Group interviews usually are scheduled for 45 to 60 minutes. The participants should be of similar status within the institution (i.e., candidates in initial teacher education programs, candidates in graduate programs preparing for new roles in schools, faculty members, department and/or program heads, P-12 administrators, and graduates) to reduce potential conflict among participants.