Paper No. 10
Presentation Time: 3:30 PM


METLAY, Suzanne T., Teachers College, Western Governors University, 4001 South 700 East, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84107,

Competency based geosciences teacher education at Western Governors University (WGU) involves mastering content knowledge online and applying it in actual classrooms under strict supervision. This unique approach provides undergraduate and graduate students at WGU with rigorous individualized instruction that includes field experience and practical demonstrations.

WGU geosciences teacher preparation at the secondary education level is for pre-service and of-record teachers in grades 5-12 with subject matter expertise in geology, oceanography, meteorology, and astronomy. Some students also teach introductory college courses in these disciplines in traditional and online environments.

Established in 1997 as a fully online non-profit private university, WGU pioneered the competency based education model for adult learners. WGU faculty engage in: (1) Direct phone calls (including webcams when appropriate) for frequent regular one-on-one sessions with students to provide personalized instruction. (2) Live webinars for one-to-many virtual classroom experiences. (3) Instant messaging, web chats, emails, and other written communication with students. (4) Instructional video recording for asynchronous learning opportunities.

Students demonstrate competence in geosciences disciplines by: (1) Completing task-based courses in Earth & Space Sciences and Interdisciplinary Geosciences. Tasks include: personal field experience summarized in a field trip report; at-home labs, including mineral & rock sample kits; and instructor-directed homework and quizzes using online interactive activities and other materials provided by the instructor. (2) Passing the Praxis II exam in Earth Science content knowledge with a minimum score set by the State of Utah or the student's state of residence. (3) Implementing science pedagogy through active student teaching supervised by WGU faculty as well as local school district personnel. Undergraduates do Demonstration Teaching for up to 15 weeks in host classrooms. Graduate students perform a multi-week Teacher Work Sample in their own classrooms followed by an Oral Defense.

WGU was the first exclusively online university to receive NCATE accreditation for degree programs that lead to teacher licensure. Accreditation standards are strictly maintained.

  • Metlay_Competency-BasedGeoscienceTeacherEd_GSA_27Oct13.pptx (1.5 MB)