1.3. Claims and Rationale

Claims and Rationale

Overview and Rationale
The Northern Michigan University Teacher Education Program makes five claims about our candidates. Claims 1 and 2 are overarching and integrated throughout the entire program. Claims 3, 4, and 5 are directly associated with TEAC Quality Principle sub-components 1.1 – 1.3.

Quality Principle 1.0: Evidence of student learning

Claim # 1: NMU teacher education candidates demonstrate proficiency of the Entry-Level Standards for Michigan Teachers (ELSMT)

Claim # 2: NMU teacher education candidates integrate technology into their teaching and learning.

1.1: Subject Matter Knowledge

Claim # 3: NMU teacher education candidates graduate with a proficiency in the liberal arts and subject-matter knowledge.

1.2: Pedagogical Knowledge

Claim # 4: NMU teacher education candidates demonstrate a proficiency in pedagogy to promote student learning in diverse field experiences.

1.3: Caring teaching skills
Claim # 5: NMU teacher education candidates demonstrate caring and are committed to being professional educators.


Our rationale for our methods of assessments and data sources chosen to highlight in our brief is based upon the following:  1) State requirements; 2) TEAC cross-cutting themes; 3) NMU’s mobile initiative; 4) Our size; and, 5) Our approach to reliability/validity.  In what follows, we outline these five components to our rationale. 


State Requirements

In Michigan, all teacher education programs are reviewed by the Michigan Department of Education and approved according to the standards set by the state. Thus, one of our goals as a teacher education program is to insure candidate’s demonstrated proficiency on the Entry-Level Standards for Michigan Teachers (ELSMT). Although the Michigan Department of Education provides the standards and the companion assessment document, teacher education programs are given leeway and freedom to design unique and site specific evaluation tools to document student competency.

At NMU, our summative student teaching evaluation form is our primary instrument. NMU’s 72-item instrument was developed by Dr. Rodney Clarken initially in 1990 based upon the eventual Michael Scriven’s (1993) “Duties of the Teacher” (for a paper on the development). In 2000, the NMU Teacher Education Program made very minor wording revisions to the student teaching evaluation instrument in response to the revised ELSMT in 1998. In 2002, NMU made a few more minor edits due to the 2002 revision of the ELSMT. Also in 2002, NMU moved the entire evaluation process from paper to an on-line process and currently continues to use on-line methods for collecting the evaluations. Table 1.3.1.a. displays the overarching categories used by the NMU student teaching evaluation instrument, Scriven’s (1993) Duties of the Teacher, and the current MDE (2008) Profile of Teacher Knowledge and Skills. Readers should note that the NMU Student Teaching Evaluation Instrument contains multiple items that reflect and assess candidates’ knowledge of the categories that appear to be “extra” in Table 1.2. In other words, our four categories are purposefully broad because we have specific domains within the four categories that are reflective of all the categories in the other two columns. Please refer to the link above to view the evaluation form.


Table 1.2: Comparison of Evaluation Categories

NMU Student Teaching Evaluation Instrument (1990)

Scriven’s Duties of the Teacher (1993)

Profile of Teacher Knowledge and Skills (MDE, 2008)

Knowledge Base

Knowledge of Subject Matter

Subject matter knowledge-base in general and liberal education

Instructional Competence

Instructional Competence

Instructional Design and Assessment

Assessment Competence

Assessment Competence

Curricular and pedagogical content knowledge aligned with state resources



Effective learning environments


Other services to school and community

Responsibilities and relationships to the school, classroom, and student


Responsibilities and relationships to the greater community


Technology operations and concepts


TEAC cross-cutting themes

A second component to our rationale is the TEAC cross-cutting themes.  Given our long standing accreditation with the National Council for Accreditation in Teacher Education, NMU Teacher Education was on the cutting edge regarding TEAC’s cross-cutting liberal education themes (learning how to learn, multicultural perspectives and accuracy, and technology).  Specifically, prior to 2004 and formally in 2004, NMU faculty were using “dispositions” to introduce our candidates to the broad stroke concepts of learning, multicultural perspectives and technology.  Students were introduced to the dispositions in either ED230 (elementary) or ED231 (secondary) coursework and were continually evaluated for progress. A brief look at our criteria for disposition achievement levels will demonstrate to readers how the TEAC cross-cutting themes looked at different phases of our program.

As program faculty and our data gathering efforts moved out of the “NCATE model” and toward the “TEAC model” of accreditation, we are proud to include as part of our rationale specific indicators of the TEAC cross-cutting themes that have been included on our student teaching evaluation instrument since the beginning of the document.  Table 1.3 displays a sample of NMU student teaching evaluation form indicators that are directly related to the TEAC cross-cutting themes.

Table 1.3: Alignment of student teaching evaluation and TEAC cross-cutting themes

TEAC cross-cutting theme

Student Teaching Evaluation Indicator Identifier

Indicator description

Learning how to learn


Communicates what is to be learned so that students understand and value the learning.


Ensures a safe and orderly environment conducive to learning.


Applies knowledge of human growth, development, and learning theory.


Creates meaningful learning experiences that help all students understand the subject matter based upon each students abilities, attitudes, effort, culture, and achievement.


Multicultural perspective and accuracy


Demonstrates a global and multicultural perspective.


Plans instruction to accommodate diversity.


Demonstrates appreciation of cultural diversity, individual differences and exceptionalities of students.


Discourages prejudice and unfair discrimination in their classroom.




Uses a variety of methodologies, technologies, and techniques.


Selects, creates and incorporates appropriate instructional techniques, technology, and materials needed for instruction.


Helps students access and use information technology and other resources to become independent learners and problem solvers.

C. 2.3.

Uses technology to organize, manage, evaluate and communicate information about student performance.


NMU's Mobile Initiative

In reference to TEAC’s cross cutting themes 1 and 3, it is also important to note that NMU’s campus is considered a “mobile campus”. More specifically, the NMU website declares:
Northern Michigan University's vision for education in the 21st century is a learning environment that embraces technology to enhance student access, promote the development of independent learners and encourage greater student-faculty communication and collaboration. To help achieve this vision, the university has implemented a mobile device program that ensures students and faculty have a standard set of tools (hardware and software) that meet a majority of their computing and telecommunications needs, promotes communication and enables quality support. NMU is the first public university in Michigan--but one of many nationwide--to pursue the idea of a "mobile" campus (Retrieved June 30, 2008 from

Thus, learning how to learn and technology are cornerstones not only of our Teacher Education Program but are built into coursework the students encounter while enrolled at NMU.


Our Size

Another facet of our rationale is our size. Given we are relatively small, we have the capability to provide a personalized experience for our Teacher Education students. Number of student teacher data is available through the Office of Institutional Research under the direction of Dr. Paul Duby: http://www.nmu.edu/ir/ . Table 1.4 displays the number of student teachers by certification level by academic year.

Table 1.4: Number of Student Teachers 2006-07 AND 2007-08

Numbers of Student Teachers



Fall Totals









Spec Ed – Cog Imp



Spec Ed – Em Imp




Winter Totals









Spec Ed – Cog Imp



Spec Ed – Em Imp





In terms of reliability and validity, we clearly recognize that our Inquiry Brief is not a stand-alone single measure in which we provide a reliability statistic; nor, are we seeking to generalize to a population and provide arguments of the validity of a cause and effect relationship. We use “reliability/validity” in a more holistic sense as “something we do” and tend to align with Creswell (2008) because of his balanced approach to research traditions. Being a smaller institution, we benefit from a program evaluation feedback loop driven by consensus. In other words, throughout the process of our brief, we consistently had multiple “eyes” looking at the description of data sources, the data collection, analysis, and conclusions which in turn increased the reliability and validity of our measures and inferences.

Creswell (2008) defines reliability to mean, “that individual scores from an instrument should be nearly the same or stable on repeated administrations of the instrument and that they should be free from sources of measurement error and consistent” (p. 646). Within our Inquiry Brief we provide several sources of data that can be checked for reliability. For example, descriptions of grades (e.g., grade point averages, means, standard deviations, etc.). Openly, we accept grades may be an unreliable data source due to a variety of reasons (e.g., intra-instructor variability); that is why we use grades as only one indicator of any of our claims and we do not place too much emphasis on this particular data source. We also accept that the state standardized test (i.e., Michigan Test for Teacher Competence) is reliable because the National Evaluation System (company the MTTC is contracted through) tells us so. The single clearest example of a measurement that needs “reliability checking” is our student teaching evaluation form. As described above, this form has gone through multiple revisions, and is discussed with student teachers, cooperating teachers, and university supervisors (the three raters) every single semester. Further, the evaluation form is also addressed in semester meetings of the TEAC (Teacher Education Advisor Council).

Creswell (2002) defines validity to mean that, “researchers can draw meaningful and justifiable inferences from scores about a sample or population” (p. 649). Inferences we draw about our Inquiry Brief claims were made only after collection, review and evaluation of multiple measures for each claim. Each individual claim contained at least one “standardized” measure in the sense that all candidates were required to participate in the measure. Further, for each claim we gathered multiple forms of measures to triangulate our data sources and findings before we conducted our discussion (see Discussion Overview). Thus, validity was enhanced due to our "multiple sources" approach and our "move forward only after consensus" approach; hence, multiple measures and consensus were our primary instruments improving our inferences (i.e., validity) throughout our brief.

Assessments and Evidence.

To assess the quality of the NMU teacher education program candidates we monitor student progress using a variety of measure that include but are not limited to:

  • Overall G.P.A.
  • G.P.A. in specific courses (e.g., MA 150/MA 151), blocks of professional education coursework (e.g., ED 210/ED301/ED230 known as Pre-Methods courses), and cumulative G.P.A. in specific major / minor
  • Student Teaching Evaluations
  • Field Placement Evaluations
  • Michigan Test of Teacher Competence
  • Faculty / Student Concern Reports

Table 1.5 displays our claims and the corresponding data sources. By selecting the link, readers will be taken to the description and/or rationale for the data source.

Table 1.5: Relationship among Northern Michigan University Claims, Evidence, Rationale, and Method


Data Source

Claim # 1: NMU teacher education candidates demonstrate proficiency of the Entry-Level Standards for Michigan Teachers (ELSMT)

  • Student teaching evaluation (Student self-report; Cooperating teaching ratings; University supervisor ratings).
  • Application to Teacher Education
  • Application to methods (faculty support)
  • Application to student teaching

Claim # 2: NMU teacher education candidates integrate technology into their teaching and learning.

  • Student Teaching Evaluation: Indicators: B.5.5.; B.6.4.; B.7.2.; B.7.3.; B.7.4.; C.2.3
  • ED 483 course grades
  • Samples of faculty / student integrating technology

Claim # 3: NMU teacher education candidates graduate with a foundation in the liberal arts and subject-matter knowledge.

  • Student Teaching Evaluation: Indicators: A.1.1.; A.1.2.; A.2.1.
  • Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC)
  • Monitoring cumulative grades

Claim # 4: NMU teacher education candidates demonstrate a foundation in pedagogy to promote student learning in diverse field experiences.

  • Student Teaching Evaluation: Indicators: A.1.3.; A.1.4.; A.2.2.; A.2.3.; B.1.1.; B.2.1.; B.2.2.; B.2.3.; B.2.4.; B.2.5. B.2.6.; B. 3.1.; B.3.2.; B.3.3.; B.3.4.; B.3.5.; B.3.6.; B.4.4.; B.5.1.; B.5.2.; B.5.3.; B.5.4.; B.6.1.; B.6.2.; B.6.3.; B.7.1.; C.1.1.; C.1.3.; C.2.1.; C.2.2.; C.3.3.; D5.2.; D.6.2.; D6.3.D.6.4
  • Grades in 3 professional education course work phases
  • Field experience evaluation
  • Diverse and extra opportunities

Claim # 5: NMU teacher education candidates demonstrate caring and are committed to being professional educators.

  • Student Teaching Evaluation: Indicators: A.2.4.; B.1.2.; B.1.3.; B.1.4.; B.4.1.; B.4.2.; B.4.3.; C.3.1.; C.3.2.; D.1.1.; D.1.2.; D.1.3.; D.2.1.; D.2.2.; D.2.3.; D.2.4.; D.2.5.; D.2.6.; D.3.1.; D.3.2.; D.3.3.; D.3.4.; D.4.1.; D.4.2.; D.4.3.; D.4.4.; D.5.1.; D.5.3.; D.5.4.; D.6.1.
  • Statement of concern
  • Retention and dismissal data
  • Extra involvement opportunities