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[Bachelor of Education]
Students taking part in the four-semester Bachelor of Education program fill the lecture hall at Duncan McArthur Hall during the opening day in 2015. The program graduated its first class this past August. (Photo by Greg Black)

Starting in 2015, Bachelor of Education programs across Ontario were required to expand from two semesters to four. With the change, the Queen’s Faculty of Education decided on a format that differed from other universities. Instead of following the traditional path of two terms per academic year with a summer break, the faculty created a program of four consecutive terms for those pursuing a B.Ed. after completing an undergraduate degree. 

The first cohort of teacher candidates in this revised Consecutive program graduated in August 2016 and the feedback from the graduates, as well as school recruiters, has been very encouraging, says Don Klinger, Acting Associate Dean Undergraduate Studies.

“We are getting very positive comments from schools who hire our teachers. They are very impressed by the students from our program – their maturity and their depth of thought, their understanding of educational issues and their desire to become teachers,” he says. 

The main reason, Dr. Klinger explains, is that committing to 16 more months of studies after completing a four-year undergraduate program takes a significant amount of dedication. 

One of the strengths of the four-term program is that teacher candidates have a greater amount of learning opportunities. What the faculty has found, Dr. Klinger says, is that the students are now able to diversify their teaching toolbox. As one example, the faculty now provides new courses such as Indigenous Education.

“Students just loved that course. The structure was extremely popular and gave students a new perspective and they never would have got that in the previous program,” Dr. Klinger says. “We are expanding their horizons. We are trying hard not to use the program just to go into more depth of the same things but to give them new experiences and new things to look at. They do get depth but they also get new ideas and perspectives.”

For Francesca Pang (BFA’15, Ed’16), the expanded learning opportunities were very valuable.

“I think the strength of the new program is the earlier graduation time and inclusion of more courses and practicum time. As an Intermediate/Secondary teacher candidate, I found the additional classes, such as Grade 7/8, Transitions and the Indigenous Education courses, to be very relevant and helpful,” says Ms. Pang, the Education Coordinator for Varley Art Gallery of Markham.

As with any program, there always is room for improvement. Currently, a task force involving students, faculty and staff members is looking at further revisions.'One issue is that students are finding they have little downtime. Also, with no summer breaks students have less time to work during their studies.

“Currently, we’re looking at ways to maximize breaks here and there for students throughout the program so they are not feeling overwhelmed,” Dr. Klinger says. “We’re also finding ways to increase our support services to help students both financially and their well-being throughout the program.” 

On the infrastructure side, Duncan McArthur Hall is feeling the strain. An older building, it was not designed as a year-round facility and this has put a greater pressure on systems such as air conditioning. However, the nicer weather has also allowed for a new learning environment with an opportunity to create an outdoor classroom.

“Overall, the first time through the four-term program has been a positive and valuable learning experience,” Dr. Klinger says.

Applications to the program have increased, he adds, and Queen’s has no problem meeting its enrollment targets. 

“I think that speaks to the viability of the model that we’ve chosen,” he says. “Most of the students who come here are not local. We are not a commuter campus. You have to make a choice to come here. So I think this model is a sounder model for us because it reduces financial constraints in terms of housing and gets the graduates to the job market sooner, more than eight months before their peers at other universities. And students entering Concurrent Education right out of high school will similarly benefit from this new program.”

To learn more about the Bachelor of Education program visit the Faculty of Education website.