Practitioner and research graduate degrees in teacher education

Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon

Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon

AFTER President Duterte announced his support for the K-12 system, protests against K-12 have mellowed quite a bit. Official websites of education bodies, blogs of experts, those well-researched reporting have helped explain that basic education brought about by K-12 brings it at par with systems worldwide.

Besides due recognition of the hefty education budget allocated by the new dispensation, the remediation measures such as licensing and graduate study grants for displaced teachers, let’s welcome the gift of ideas that should find their way in reshaping our higher education, such as those of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations of the Philippines (COCOPEA), the roadmap of which says it all.

This pool of serious thought, shaped by seasoned minds, is practically profound. This and similar initiatives should anchor our revisiting education, considering our respective local contexts. Let’s start with the graduate degrees as they are at present – the practitioner’s degree (Master in Education) and the research degree (Master of Arts in Education).

Practitioner degrees.

CHED Memorandum Order No. 53, s. 2007 specifies two kinds of practitioner’s master degrees, both non-thesis. One is “for teachers to make them better learning facilitators in various subject areas;” the other is “for education professionals, such as guidance counselors, principals and supervisors.” < -No.53-s2007.pdf>.

Per CHED guidelines, the master of education degree (MEd), as a practitioner degree, focuses on “applying higher levels of practical knowledge and learning in the field.” This degree is for teachers wishing “to specialize in the teaching of a particular subject area, or for those who wish to advance to leadership positions, such as curriculum specialists, principals, or superintendents.” The required capstone could be a portfolio, or an action research, and is subjected to an oral defense. In some states in the US,” this practitioner degree is a requirement for entry-year teachers seeking a teaching license.”

In our case, CHED requires a vertical master degree to teach in college. Thus, a pre-service major in English could pursue a MAEd major in English Language Teaching (ELT). However, we need innovative programs for headships. The education pre-service has no school management at least as a minor. Hence, graduate schools should begin accepting students in headship/leadership programs, such as a MAEd major in Organization and Management (traditional label is “Educational Administration”). This school management programs could focus on change management such as addressing realities of change – example, transition to the K-12. It could lead to a vertical practitioner doctorate such as that at Liceo U – a Doctor of Education (EdD) major in Leadership and Organization. This requires a dissertation on theory application and defended by the candidate in an oral examination.

Research degrees

The MAEd aims to reinforce “students’ understanding of educational theories, concepts, curriculum and instructional techniques in order to further advance in their professional careers.” It is designed to enhance “teachers’ theoretical and technical knowledge in teaching a specific subject area or professional area, and prepares students for various administrative and supervisory positions in elementary, secondary, post-secondary and vocational programs.” This degree requires a full thesis submitted to an oral examination. It also leads to a doctor of philosophy (PhD) degree, which requires a dissertation on theory development, likewise submitted to an oral examination. A headship major could be on leadership.

Having briefly described the practitioner and research degrees, let us offer suggestions to graduate curricula. Drawing a focus from the UK, where the idea of an ideal teacher with multiple roles is honed into the minds and hearts of future teachers from the pre-service stage, we enumerate them herewith, hoping for their extended development in our graduate teacher education. The ideal teacher is,

first, “a competent reflective practitioner,” who “responds effectively to the learning needs of a wide range of pupils.” Second, “as a teacher in the curriculum development process, (he/she) has to be a subject specialist, curriculum developer, and contributor to educational innovation.”Third, “as a teacher in the profession, (he/she) has to be an active member of a community of educationalists with shared obligations, values and responsibilities.” And fourth, “as a teacher in society, (he/she) has to conduct and sustain relationships at many levels: for example, at a local level with parents, other professional agencies, and education authorities; at national level, with assessment authorities, policy making, advisory and research bodies; at international level with exchange programs. Obviously each role brings a distinctive set of challenges and requires deep knowledge and skill.”

While the CHED technical panel for teacher education consults with teacher education college deans and other stakeholders for a revised teacher education pre-service, graduate teacher education programs could pursue creative initiatives responsive to K-12 pedagogical and curriculum planning and design. For both practitioner and research degrees, crafting innovative school headship programs, integrating global perspectives, meaningful utilization of information technology, developing cultural competency, and fostering development of the Filipino’s cherished values and virtues – are suggestions on student formation.

Meanwhile, lecturers update themselves to complement student needs – developing global fluency, the art and science of teaching effectively the K-12 spiral and integrated curriculum, inter/intradisciplinary, transdisciplinary and multidisciplinary learner-centered approaches and values development integration techniques. For the research degrees, research agenda could include K-12 related issues. As opportunities for students to evidence that they are able to integrate learning gains from course work, comprehensive examination questions should not be a mere repeat of final examination questions in a subject. Given well thought out revisions in graduate education, we shall be an orchestra – playing a rousing tune for 21st century Philippine education marching onward.

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Teresita Tanhueco-Tumapon, PhD, one of the Philippines’ most accomplished educators and institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She studied not only in the topmost universities in the Philippines but also in Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is copy editor of the Liceo journals, and professorial lecturer at the Graduate Studies of Liceo de Cagayan University (in Cagayan de Oro City). Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement Award from the Commission on Higher Education.


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