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Editor’s Note
: University of Phoenix devised an innovative solution to the diminishing supply of new teachers entering the system. Recruitment focused on adult learners who had already had Bachelor degrees. “Key predictors of success” were the basis of selection. Online learning, simulations, and e-portfolios were key ingredients to ensure program quality, accessibility, and success.

University of Phoenix Online
Masters in Teaching Program

Cindy K. Knott

With one of the most critical teacher shortages in the United States history compounded by the large percentage of retiring teachers in the next decade, the number of adults changing careers into the teaching profession and returning to college is on the rise. The teacher candidate population has shifted from the traditional student to the adult learner. “The recent increase in the number of traditional students interested in education will not meet this need, and there are real limitations on the ability of traditional colleges to entice eligible teacher education applicants” (Morey, 2001, p. 305). As we begin to consider the importance of the individuals who are re-careering as a definite pool of prospective teacher candidates, the traditional teacher education programs and delivery are under scrutiny. Alternative certification programs must be considered as an avenue to support a population who may find the enrolling in a traditional teacher preparation program a challenge due to other obligations (Huling, Resta, and Rainwater, 2001).

To address the teacher supply/demand issues confronting the nation, distance and alternative teacher preparation programming will allow the flexibility for the emerging non-traditional student to enter the profession. Thus, there is an interest in the delivery of teacher preparation programs, from traditional universities to virtual learning environments to meet the needs of this population. With the use of technology, a completely new paradigm shift is taking place from the traditional model for preparation of teachers to a model requiring the same objectives only differing in delivery method. The University of Phoenix (UOP) Online Master of Arts in Education/Teacher Education (MAED/TED) Programs is designed for students for geographical or personal reasons cannot complete the coursework in a traditional setting. These programs for elementary and secondary teacher certification are 33-credit Master’s Degree (MAED) programs, leading to Arizona teacher licensure. Candidates for this program have already earned a bachelor’s degree and wish to gain the pedagogical knowledge and skills that will assist them in becoming competent and effective educators, while earning a Master’s Degree. This program suggests that successful teacher candidates will:

  • Participate in Field Experiences that are tied to either specific course objectives and/or program standards.

  • Reflect on their performance and thinking throughout the coursework.

  • Integrate technology into the curriculum.

  • Utilize critical thinking in making decisions.

  • Collaborate with learning teams on problem solving situations.

  • Complete a Teacher Work Sample Project.

  • Demonstrate continuous progress and development throughout the program in their electronic portfolio.

  • Student teach in an approved placement with a certified classroom teacher.

For accountability purposes, data collection occurs at four key phases in the teacher preparation program, a method based on work done by the Renaissance Partnership for Improving Teacher Quality (“Teacher Work Sample Methodology,” 2001.) Students will submit work sampling documentation to an e-Portfolio under the appropriate program domains of teaching responsibility. During each of the four student teaching seminars, university faculty will assess individual student’s e-Portfolio according to program criteria and mastery levels. Online UOP faculty members are required to complete a 10-12 week approval, training, and mentoring process prior to teaching in any program. In addition, MAED/TED faculty must pass a 3-day Faculty Program Orientation (FPO) regarding program components, procedures, and policies in order to best serve the students.

Coursework is all on rEsource. Resource is how the University of Phoenix students and faculty will gain access to the learning materials for their courses. It is a virtual distribution system for all UOP materials associated with a course. It is a one -stop shop making all course materials and resources at a click of a button. The materials and resources include Unimodule®, e-Text, articles, self-assessments, supplemental materials, web-links, and multi-media presentation tools. Technical support is available 24 hours, 7 days a week to support students and faculty.

The 10-week student teaching placements may be in public, private or charter schools. Qualified faculty supervisors, site supervisors, and cooperating teachers provide quality and consistent supervision throughout this experience. Together these three supervisory roles have an integral part in the student teacher assessment process. Facilitation of student teacher placements come about in a variety of ways, ranging from initially soliciting their own placements for campus approval to placement with a local university partner in order to complete their student teaching. Teacher Education Coordinators assure the appropriate application procedures are accurately completed. Students are required to follow all school and district policies. Ongoing data collection, continual formative and summative assessment, and developmental evaluation based upon program standards and rubrics allow for a program of quality, rigor, and accountability. Candidates not progressing satisfactorily along the program continuum will receive counseling and remediation options through the student retention process.

In order to meet the tremendous need for quality teachers, alternative teacher preparation programs, including distance-learning environments, are avenues by which current deficiencies in the teaching profession can be met. As the teacher candidate population moves from the traditional student to the non-traditional student, the online environment is one way to address the learning styles and life demands of the adult learner. Along with a quality teacher-preparation program built on national and state standards, the flexibility of the online classroom is very appealing to students. The UOP Online teacher preparation will prepare teacher candidates to understand and have experience in:

  • Teaching in Diverse Environments

  • Learning Theory

  • School Law and Ethics

  • Classroom Management

  • Curriculum Design and Assessment

  • Instructional Strategies

  • State and National Standards

  • Literacy

  • Family and Community Collaboration

  • Technology

The innovative program has grown quickly to 1400 students and 130 instructors. UOP does provide additional training for instructors who teach in the MAT program. New instructors take a relevant three-day workshop prior to teaching in the program.

There is a wealth of information disseminated during the three days.  These documents provide the facilitators with all the information they may need to effectively teach the MAED/TED curriculum. The 3-day workshop provides the new facilitators with a wealth of knowledge.  Documents such as the Online Training Manual, MAT 500 Unimodule (curriculum), PowerPoint Presentation of the program overview, Program Rubrics, contact list, and course sequence are given to the facilitators.  Upon completing of the workshop, the facilitators are well equipped to teach for the MAED/TED Programs.
(T. Kanai, personal communication, March 18, 2003)

Due to the tremendous teacher shortage throughout the nation, institutions across the United States have been encouraged to look for ways to provide alternative paths to certification. Now, many colleges and universities are using online modalities to deliver portions of their programs to teacher candidates. As a further guarantee that candidates have the pre-requisite skills and knowledge necessary to positively impact student learning, candidates completing UOP programs will still be required to meet additional, individual local state requirements. This may include additional coursework, successfully passing knowledge and content area exams, as well as participating in on-going mentoring programs.


Morley, A. (2001). The growth of for-profit higher education: Implications for teacher-education. Journal of Teacher Education ,52, 300-311.

Huling, L., Resta, V., & Rainwater, N. (2001). The case for a third alternative: One university’s trip. Journal of Teacher Education, 52, 326-338.

Teacher work sample methodology. (2001). Renaissance partnership for improving teacher quality [Online]. Available:

University of Phoenix College of Education (2002). Master of arts in education/Teacher education program handbook. Phoenix, Arizona: Author.

About the Author

Cindy K. Knott is Associate Director of Academic Affairs/Regional Assistant Dean for the College of Education at University of Phoenix Online. She earned her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership, from Nova Southeastern University and her M.Ed. and B.A. from Arizona State University.

Dr. Knott has been in the education field for over 25 years. She has served as the College Campus Chair and Program Chair for the University. She recently was appointed the Project Director for Project Reach and was instrumental in obtaining the United States Department of Education Transition to Teaching Grant for the University.  She has worked to deliver on two military contracts to provide MAED programs for the European and Asian Theaters. Dr. Knott is currently serving on the Arizona Department of Education Certification Task Force. Prior to her position at the University of Phoenix, Dr. Knott was a classroom teacher and assistant director in the public and private school systems, primarily in the special education area.

In addition to Dr. Knott’s lifelong education interests, she is an active community member and has traveled abroad for the University of Phoenix Online. She has participated and presented at many national and local conferences, including serving on a panel discussion for “No Child Left Behind.” Dr. Knott is a full-time faculty member at the University, receiving awards for both outstanding faculty and performance.

Contact: Cindy K. Knott, Ed.D., Associate Director of Academic Affairs
Regional Assistant Dean, College of Education, University of Phoenix Online
Tel: 1-800-366-9699, ext. 6824  Tel: 602-387-6824  Fax: 602-735-3391

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