Early education program moves toward greater focus on clinical model

The Early Childhood Education Department is in the midst of a heavy overhaul of their experiential learning model.

In an effort to better prepare and educate the students at Baldwin Wallace, the department has undergone significant changes that will allow the students more time in the field as a part of the clinical requirement.

This change is due, in part, to two main factors, said Dr. Chad Malcolm, coordinator of the early childhood education program. First, the department feels that they should be getting their students more time in the classroom, Malcom said, to better prepare them for the future. Secondly, the program’s accrediting body, the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, has begun the push toward wanting a more clinical program, he said.

“We are starting to move towards a more clinical model. Much the same as a med. school, where the students are out in the field more, learning from their time there, then they come back and debrief with us,” said Malcolm. “We fix gaps, fix holes, and they go back out into the field. With our newer program we are proposing currently, we are going to end up with almost 1200 hours in the field in four years.”

Malcolm, who has been spearheading this effort, got approval for the new internship model in April and had it roll out this Fall Semester.

“A lot of them that are graduating wish we would have changed it a long time ago,” said Malcolm.

One such student, current early childhood education senior Taylor Lundin, said, “It is something that I think is so beneficial. I can’t believe that people didn’t do it before, because you really get to be with the same teacher all year.”

Malcolm said, BW is the only school in Northeast Ohio that is currently offering such an extensive program. The closest is Cleveland State University’s program, which sits at around 700 field hours.

The department believes that this will have a direct impact on both enrollment and job placement numbers.

“We can really start marketing that we have you in the field almost every semester somehow,” said Malcom. “We all know the research that you need to have 10,000 hours in something before you become a master in it. We are never going to get to that point, but we are trying to get at least a tenth of that in the first four years as they are learning, which I think is a pretty high standard.”

It is not just the department that is confident in this new program in regards to the post-graduate implications. According to Malcolm, the overall response from students has been positive in nature.

“It just gives me a deeper experience to say I was in a classroom for a whole year,” said Lundin. “There are things of my own that I have already implemented into the classroom and things that I have created for the classroom that I can take in as artifacts and examples of my own, which is fantastic.”

Current early childhood education senior AnneMarie Romito said, “It sets us apart and is something that we can put on our resume. Our names will get into the school district.”

This new internship program is a part of a larger move by the department, said Malcolm, who is currently proposing a new program for the whole department in which more credits are geared towards these internship opportunities.