College of Education

The College of Education’s four-year graduation rate has increased over 15 percent from 2016 to 2017, with 81.4 percent of undergraduate students graduating within four years in 2017.

Beginning in 2014, the College of Education began the student success and recruiting initiative through funding from the Provost’s Office. When the initiative began, the College of Education had a four-year graduation rate of 64.5 percent.

“We’ve really achieved a tremendous amount of success,” said Sherry Field, assistant dean for teacher education, outreach and recruitment.

The College of Education created the P.O.W.E.R. program to assist students who are on the edge of probation to get back on track, Field said.

“Part of the success of the P.O.W.E.R. program was developing closer relationships with their academic advisers,” Field said. “We really wanted to go that extra step and make sure we were doing everything we could do to make that personal connection.”

With assistance from an engineering staff member, the College of Education also created a software program called G4, which, according to Field, is meant to go beyond what a degree audit can do. The program allows
students to see what they need to complete each semester to graduate in four years.

“That’s a huge step,” Field said. “As a student you don’t have to go back through all the course offerings and look at what you need to do.”

Field said she hopes the College of Education reaches a 90 percent four-year graduation rate.

“I would love for anybody who comes to UT to graduate in four years,” Field said. “It just makes good financial sense, but the reality is life happens, and it’s not always possible for students in any major to graduate in four years.”

The academic advising staff within the College of Education works to spend more individual time with students, said Antoinette Stanley-Hart, academic advising coordinator for the College of Education.

“I’m amazed at our accomplishment and feel that it is a direct result of the aggressive approach working with students on academic probation through our P.O.W.E.R. program, as well as the commitment to our advising team,” Stanley-Hart said.

General education junior Jessica Barnett said the advisers in the College of Education were helpful when she transferred from the College of Natural Sciences, and the graduation rate is great.

“I think it’s exciting that our University is growing and producing more students and really changing the world,” Barnett said.

Photo courtesy of Marsha Miller.

Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of Q-and-A’s with UT’s deans. Manuel J. Justiz is dean of the College of Education. He assumed the position in 1990.

Daily Texan: Could you start off by telling us about the most interesting projects going on in the College of Education? 

Dean Justiz: We are the largest college of education in the country in size. We are a non-traditional school, meaning that we are very performance-based with a heavy emphasis on student performance and research. If you look at our national rankings, we were ranked  number one among publics for four years in a row. We have been ranked number one in research expenditures among public and private [universities] for five or six years. We place heavy emphasis on being interdisciplinary. 

We are cofounders of the UTeach program within the Natural Sciences [college] preparing math and science teachers. We’re also cofounders with Cockrell [School of Engineering] on UTeach engineering. Those are examples of some collaborative efforts. We took the lead with Governor Richards on STEM initiatives. At her request, we developed the only proposal for the entire state on STEM education. We’re working with Governor Abbott’s office on their current education initiative. Internally, we have the Office of Educational Research to improve the participation of faculty, and we have the third highest research expenditure at the University, which is strange for a college of education. It’s a very large college with a comprehensive mission, but we are very proud. 

DT: What percentage of undergrad students go into graduate school immediately versus going into teaching? 

Justiz: Our undergraduate population are the ones wanting to be teachers. Probably 85-90 percent of undergrads go on to teach. The rest are going to graduate school. We have 100 percent job placement and have a 100 percent pass rate in our Teacher Certification Exam. I think a lot of our graduates will come back after a few years for graduate programs.  

DT: You are the first dean we’ve talked to that has mentioned working with gubernatorial administrations. Is that something the college tries to initiate or do those different administrations reach out to you? 

Justiz: They reach out to us. I think that speaks to how well regarded the college is. I’ve been here 25 years, I’m the senior dean at UT. When I came here, the first initiative we had came from Governor Richards, with whom I traveled extensively and visited schools. She chose our STEM proposal to send to a federal level. We’re being asked to take the lead on Governor Abbott’s initiative. We don’t look inward, we look outward.  

DT: What brought you to UT and what are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your time here? 

Justiz: When I was selected in a national search for a dean, I had been in a subcabinet post heading up the Research Agency in Education in Washington. I came to UT because it was a great opportunity. I fell in love with Austin and UT. It has been a great privilege for me to be a dean at the university. 

When I came, the college was under review. There were questions about academic integrity and the quality of our degrees. I felt this place could only go up. It was a low-risk situation. If I could build a team of people with the same vision, I knew I could improve the college and help it fulfill its promise. It is a work in progress, there are still problems and we need to make sure the leadership team is always working together. I’ve probably hired 92 percent of the college faculty by now.  

DT: Have you seen any changes in the types of students coming into the college? 

Justiz: When we started, most of our graduates were going into teacher education. Kinesiology has grown. Less people are going into teacher education and more into the health sciences.That isn’t so different from the rest of the university.  

DT: How large of a role does diversity play in your college? 

Justiz: Anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of minority graduates at UT graduate with a degree in education, and we have a strong, diverse faculty. In fact, I was the first minority dean in the history of the university.  

DT: What do you think will be the next big change in education? 

Justiz: We’ve been talking about creating a unique marriage between pedagogy and content in education through gaming. How do we bring the best facets of gaming to teaching and learning? How do we build that into a challenging curriculum that really engages you? How do you bring these practices in without compromising the integrity of the content? We think we need a public-private partnership to do this, but those are the kind of discussions we are having.  

The graduate school of education ranks among the highest ranked public schools in the country, according to a new survey by U.S. News & World Report.
Photo Credit: Ethan Black | Daily Texan Staff

The College of Education is ranked among the top 10 graduate schools of education in the nation for 2016 because of its increased focus on research, according to a University official.

U.S. News and World Report released the schools ranked within the top 10 graduate schools last week, but they plan to post exact ranking on the website Tuesday. 

UT is one of only three public institutions among the schools listed on the U.S. News ranking. Last year, the University’s College of Education ranked 10th overall and fourth among public schools. This year, it is expected the University will rank tenth overall again and move up to third place among public schools, according to senior associate dean Marilyn Kameen.

Research is highly prioritized by both the college and U.S. News and World Report officials, according to Natasha Beretvas, associate dean for research and graduate studies. 

“The more money we are spending on research, the higher the ranking,” Beretvas said. “The total research expenditures makes up 15 percent [of the ranking], but then the research expenditures per faculty member are also 15 percent, so it’s, like, double-dipped.”

The College of Education’s research expenditures have increased almost $10 million from last year, according to Kameen.

“We’re number two in the country in research expenditures for the college,” Kameen said.

Over the past year, the college has focused its research on a variety of areas, including educational psychology, teacher retention rates and racial identity in the classroom. 

For Patrick Vincent, educational psychology graduate student, the education college’s research influenced his decision to attend UT for graduate school. Many other schools lack research opportunities, which makes UT’s College of Education stand apart, according to Vincent.

“Some of the programs that I interviewed at … didn’t seem like they were at the front of all the research and understanding where the field was headed,” Vincent said. “It’s more about just creating people to go out into the workforce. Research is actually being conducted [extensively] in this department.”

The main difference in ranking between public and private institutions is based on the availability of funding, Kameen said. Private schools are wealthier because of endowments, whereas public schools such as UT rely on grants and state funds, she said.

“It’s important to emphasize the distinction between a ranking among all public and private [universities] and then what our ranking is among public universities since they’re so different,” Kameen said. “We really compare ourselves to the public universities because that’s our peer group.”

Jo Worthy, language and literacy studies professor and Tasha Beretvas, associate dean for research and graduate studies, received the College of Education’s Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award. 

Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Jo Worthy, language and literacy studies professor, and Tasha Beretvas, associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Education, both received the College of Education Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the college’s most prominent award, last week. 

Worthy, a former elementary and middle school teacher, specializes in children’s reading interests and bilingual education. She also focuses on the alternatives to ability grouping, which she said is the method of categorizing and sectioning young students based on expectancy of success in academics.

“Putting kids into these ability groups can be really harmful,” Worthy said. “If we’re not teaching them as a whole, then they don’t get the equal treatment that encourages success.”

Worthy said group categorizing students discourages them to break apart from the labels they are given. The most well-known categorization is to break up students into gifted and talented in middle school and regular or distinguished in high school.

According to Worthy, her method of teaching involves getting to know students on a personal level.

“It is important to me to know what the students need and especially what they’re interested in learning,” Worthy said.

Beth Maloch, associate dean of teacher education and chair of the award’s committee, said Worthy has designed and taught a signature undergraduate studies course, which has received exceptional course evaluations.

Beretvas teaches statistics and psychometrics in the Department of Educational Psychology. Her course, “Introduction to Statistics,” helps students understand how to apply statistics to their own respective fields.

“There are a lot of people coming in who are fearful of math,” Beretvas said. “When they’re shown in a way that they can grasp it, they can easily use [statistics] with their own interests.”

According to Maloch, the committee bases its decisions off student and faculty-peer evaluations for both graduate and undergraduate teaching.

“Research is important at a top-tier institution like UT,” Beretvas said. “But we also value teaching and seeing these awards really does substantiate that.”

Both Worthy and Beretvas have previously received honors, including the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.

“They’ve invested all across the college throughout the years,” Maloch said. “It’s a long way to say that it was not surprising that they were nominated.”

After receiving harsh criticism from some students, faculty and staff members during the 2013-2014 school year, Shared Services has made some changes.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said the pilot programs in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the College of Education look vastly different than the original Shared Services Plan first introduced to the UT community almost a year ago. 

The original Shared Services Plan, presented by the Shared Services Committee in October 2013, called for the elimination of 500 jobs and the centralization of University services such as finance, human resources and information technology services.

“The initial concept that we presented to campus was, ‘Let’s build a center, and, eventually, it’s going to have 500 people to provide all those services, and it’s probably going to be off-campus,’” Hegarty said. “That’s no longer the vision.” 

The Shared Services Committee held open forums on campus after releasing its plan for faculty and students to discuss and ask questions about the implementation of the program.

Hegarty said after engaging in these discussions, the committee decided to study different versions of Shared Services already being implemented by the McCombs School of Business and the College of Liberal Arts. After reviewing the results of these two programs, Hegarty said two pilot programs were created in the provost’s office and the College of Education.

“The implementation team went in and studied the provost’s portfolio,” Hegarty said. “[They] studied the College of Education, and they divided the implementation of Shared Services — what units get brought into the Shared Services center. We call it the Central Business Office, the CBO.”

The CBO, now located in the UT Administration Building on Guadalupe Street, used to be made up of small groups of people located in various offices on campus. Previously, the CBO provided services to small units, including the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs and other organizations that could not afford to have large staffs. 

Hegarty said the CBO began offering its services to the College of Education and the provost’s office about six to eight weeks ago, after the smaller offices merged into one.

While the provost’s office has seen positive results, Hegarty said some departments in the College of Education have been disappointed with the services they have received from the CBO.

“We knew purchasing volume rises dramatically in August, and we knew that in the first 12 days of class, there are a lot of [human resources] transactions going on — appointments of faculty and appointments of staff, etc.,” Hegarty said. “While we tried to staff up ahead of that, we didn’t have enough staff. The service levels came down below quite honestly what CBO expected and certainly below what the college had expected.”

Hegarty said, since this occurrence, the College of Education asked his office to no longer expand the school’s services to the responsibilities of the CBO until quality of service levels are back up to speed. According to Hegarty, there have been no layoffs as a result of Shared Services. 

“Where a position has been displaced, we’ve been able to offer an opportunity in the CBO or elsewhere on campus to make sure that person lands on their feet,” Hegarty said. 

According to a report by the College of Education, male students of color have lower rates of academic success in community college than their white counterparts, even though the students of color have higher aspirations.

The Center for Community College Student Engagement released its findings from the two year study “Aspirations to Achievement: Men of Color and Community Colleges,” after surveying students from 900 different community colleges throughout the nation and holding a series of focus groups involving students and faculty.

Center Director Kay McClenney said students she spoke to said they wanted more out of their college. She said these students voiced concerns about feeling like they belonged, having faculty who believed in their potential and who are enthusiastic in the classroom. McClenney said they also wanted learning experiences more engaging than lectures, and wanted to be challenged with higher standards.

“Many of them honestly come saying that the expectation that people held for them in high school were somewhere between zero and low and that often they were given the message that they weren’t going to make it: They weren’t college material,” McClenney said. “They want people to hold high expectations of them and believe that they are capable of rising to those high expectations.”

According to the study, students of color engage in their college community more than their white counterparts, but a large portion of the inequalities in success come from college readiness. Because of this, McClenney said, more community colleges have begun to offer classes for study skills and time management.

While college readiness can be an issue, electrical engineering junior Walter Oji said he had an overall positive experience at Houston Community College and transitioning to UT, and was surprised with the findings in the report.

“It wasn’t too difficult, but I still learned a lot and basically; all the teachers were nice,” Oji said.

Oji said he experienced a wide gap in the level of difficulty between his classes during community college and those at UT.

“The classes that were really technical and science based didn’t really prepare me for UT at all,” Oji said.

McClenney said students of color also face stereotyping and racism, some of which is unintentional, and colleges need to address the problem on a larger scale than is currently being done.

“A big part of the problem is that every college, including The University of Texas, has special programs for students of color … mentoring programs or the like and there are very small numbers of students involved in those programs relative to the target population.”

According to professor Laura Rendon from the College of Education and Human Development at UTSA, financial problems and, in some cases, being the first in the family to go to college have a huge factor on the academic success males of color achieve.

“[They face] navigational problems, institutional problems, cultural problems and so these becoming exacerbated for men of color because oftentimes they have other competing demands,” Rendon said. “For example, they may be the man of the household when the father leaves, they have to help the family survive by taking on full-time jobs. These are very vulnerable first-time, low-income students and are vulnerable in the sense that there is so much they have to deal with that anything in college can set them back from moving forward and completing their degrees.”

Latino graduation rates and college engagement will be a new focus of the College of Education after The Kresge Foundation and the Greater Texas Foundation awarded the program two grants totaling $437,000. 

The research will aim to develop an action plan to address the low transfer-rate of Latino students from community colleges to four-year universities and the challenges Latino students face when they transfer. The research will be conducted by the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Administration and will analyze data from CCCSE surveys and the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE).

Kay McClenney, the director of the CCCSE, said all students face challenges when they transfer from community colleges to four-year universities but those challenges are “exacerbated with subgroups of students who are more likely to be first-generation college students, more likely to have graduated from high schools with inadequate counseling support, [and] more likely to rely on financial aid.”

McClenney also said Latinos face additional problems when they transfer to universities that are less ethnically diverse than their community colleges.
“Attention needs to be paid to matters involving cultural heritage and identity, so that students can quickly come to feel that they are socially, as well as educationally, connected with their college,” McClenney said. 

While the CCCSE and the NSSE have been providing universities and community colleges with data for years on these issues, this latest project increases the emphasis on pairs of universities and community colleges between which many students transfer.
Angela Valenzuela, a professor in the College of Education and the director of the Texas Center for Education Policy, said it is important to identify the achievement gap as an “opportunity gap” rooted in underpriviledged circumstances. Valenzuela and McClenney both identified financial circumstances and poor schools earlier in Latino students’ lives as causes for this gap. 

Biology senior Daniel McFarlane, Transfer Student Association president, said the transition to the University is a “complete culture shock” for transfer students.

“It’s like going from 13th grade to an entirely different world,” McFarlane said. 

McClenney emphasized the importance of the research saying that the issue needed serious attention. 

“In Texas, our future — in terms of both fiscal prosperity and societal health — truly depends on our commitment to ensure that much larger numbers of Latino students progress successfully through the public school system, through the community colleges and on to completion of a baccalaureate degree,” McClenney said. 

“Alien Rescue,” a game set in a science-fiction world designed by a UT professor for sixth graders, is working to educate students on space science. 

“Alien Rescue” is created by Min Liu, a professor in College of Education with support from the McDonald Observatory. According to Prof. Liu, “Alien Rescue” is an immersive multimedia-enhanced problem-based learning (PBL) environment for space science. It is designed for sixth graders to learn science by providing educational video games.

Liu said “Alien Rescue” serves a part of the science curriculum and may play a crucial role in sixth graders' science performance.

“Numerous research studies […] have shown sixth graders’ science knowledge scores increased after using it and they are highly motivated in using it,” Liu said 

Mary Kay Hemenway, a researcher at McDonald Observatory, said the goal of “Alien Rescue” is to help students learn basic science in many areas.

“Science affects their lives in so many ways, and as citizens, they will be asked to make decisions based on logic, reason and their scientific knowledge,” Hemenway said. “Science can be an awarding subject just for its own sake.”

Graduate students in the College of Education’s Learning Technology program are also using “Alien Rescue” for research.

Lucas Horton, a doctoral student working for the center, said through this project, students explore theories related to teaching and learning.

“It allows students to get a first-hand view of how instructional innovations can be designed and used, […] and understand how to best design learning environments,” Horton said. “It allows us to explore the relationship between theory and practice in ways that are very tangible.”

Horton said the work on “Alien Rescue” encourages people to use it.

“I expect that Alien Rescue will continue to be a useful tool for teaching space science. At the same time, we will continue to learn from our experiences in sixth grade classrooms to refine and expand the program to make it an even more robust and useful tool for learning,” he said.

Follow Gefei Liu on Twitter @gefeiliu. 

UT’s College of Education has maintained the top spot among public institutions according to the 2013 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools rankings.

The annual report ranked the graduate program at the College of Education number one nationally among public schools and third overall. UT is one of the three public schools in the top 10 nationally, with UCLA coming in at number six and the University of Oregon coming in at eighth. This is the second year that the College has been ranked number one.

Marilyn C. Kameen, senior associate dean of the College of Education, said the high ranking is due to the College’s strength in several important areas.

“The dramatic increase in research expenditures from research grants, high quality doctoral programs that have high admission standards and our national reputation of our academic programs, as evaluated by deans of education across the country, have contributed to the rise in rankings,” Kameen said.

The College of Education’s research funding program was also ranked number one for the fifth year in a row. The college received around $64 million for research this last year. Two departments within the college, Administration/Supervision and Special Education, were ranked in the top 10 overall.

“These rankings showcase the work of our faculty and the fact that they have been found to be of high quality,” said Herbert Rieth, chair of the special education department. “It also shows that our students are highly motivated and are hard workers.”

Since the start of the U.S. News & World Report rankings the College of Education has always been in the top 20 public rankings for its graduate program, rising from 18th to first among public universities and from 27th to third overall.

UT is ahead of nationally respected private and public schools such as Stanford, Yale, UC Berkeley and University of Michigan.

“It feels great to be a part of a school that is so highly ranked in the nation and it is a definitely something that motivates me to succeed,” said exercise science freshman Rachel Gonzalez.

Printed on Monday, March 26, 2012 as: College of Education ranks high among top US schools

The annual Elizabeth Shatto Massey Award for Excellence in Teacher Education recognizes UT professors considered exceptional by faculty and alumni, and those bestowing the award deem the 2011 recipient a leader in his or her field.

A committee of UT alumni and faculty, under the direction of the Texas Exes, granted the award to Beth Maloch, associate professor in the College of Education for her efforts in and dedication to developing future educators. The committee takes the references of colleagues, program directors and students as well as student evaluations into account when choosing a recipient. The recipient receives $12,000.

“She knows how to get teachers excited about teaching,” said Randy Bomer, chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “She has UT students work at Austin elementary schools and gets them involved in how [the students] are thinking and therefore how they themselves are thinking. It also makes them more professional.”

Maloch came to UT in 2000 and teaches both undergraduates and graduate students. She is primarily concerned with the methods of teaching young children how to read and write and communication methods in the classroom. She does research on those topics and had a major role in amending undergraduate curricula at UT.

Since joining the UT faculty, Maloch was named a fellow of the Charles H. Spence Centennial Associate Professorship in Education, given a place in the Academy of Distinguished Teachers and received the Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching Award and two Dean’s Faculty Integration Awards.

“She is one of the finest professors in the University, as evidenced by all the awards she has received,” said College of Education professor Jo Worthy. “[Maloch] has been here for only 10 years and she’s been excited [about teaching] the whole time.”

The Massey Award was established by UT law alumnus John H. Massey in 2003 as a way to honor his wife, Elizabeth “Libba” Shatto Massey and her passion for public education. Massey earned a degree from UT in education in 1961 and went on to have a career in teaching. The award is given to a UT faculty member who is a “teacher of teachers” — someone who aims to prepare education students to be influential elementary and secondary school teachers, according to the Texas Exes.

“[Maloch] embodies the spirit of the award,” said Kim Gundersen, Texas Exes director of Outreach and associate executive director.

Printed on Friday, September 23, 2011 as: "Education professor wins teaching award from UT colleagues."