Letter from the Provost

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Teachers College Selected Topics Self-Study

A message from Provost Tom James

Dear Members of Teachers College Community,
For the past two years, Teachers College has been preparing for its decennial reaccreditation by the Middle States
Commission on Higher Education. In 2013-2014, a Steering Committee co-chaired by Vice Provost Bill Baldwin and Vice
Dean Lin Goodwin designed the self-study as a demonstration project for using information about graduates’ career paths
and their perceptions of the quality and professional relevance of their programs in ongoing program development and
improvement. Along with other recent initiatives, the self-study is intended to support the College’s commitment to such
development and improvement throughout the academic structure. Three working groups carried out the work that
followed the design of the self-study.
The Design and Program Review Group coordinated 18 program reviews based on the findings from the 2014 Alumni
Feedback Survey and other data. This group identified the strengths, challenges, areas for improvement, and directions
for future development common across multiple programs, and it developed a series of recommendations to advance
further program review, improvement, and redesign across the College. These recommendations focus on supporting
continuing program reviews, providing resources for fieldwork and internship experiences, exploring academic and career
advising models, supporting professional licensing and accreditation, planning for faculty transitions and retirements,
facilitating cross-program collaboration, developing post-master’s education and digital learning, and keeping Teachers
College programs affordable.
The Survey Group conducted an audit of the various surveys administered across the College. It also reviewed
information about survey programs at select peer institutions and developed a series of recommendations to create a
more comprehensive survey program at Teachers College. These recommendations focus on a more centralized and more
collaborative approach to survey design and administration; survey redesign guided by a conceptual framework that is
responsive to the needs and interests of multiple units and programs, and that provides for disaggregation at the unit or
program level and longitudinal analyses; and effective strategies for disseminating survey findings and integrating survey
research with other planning and assessment processes at the College.
The Advanced Master’s Programs Group focused its inquiry on the Ed.M. programs and found that these programs provide
students with opportunities for advanced graduate studies that are not commonly found at other graduate institutions.
The group also found that advanced certificates, rather than formal degree programs, are increasingly defining the initial
post-master’s education. These findings guided the College’s efforts in new program development and program redesign
during the 2014-2015 academic year, and they have informed my recommendations to the Faculty moving forward.
Overall, the Selected Topics Self-Study found that Teachers College has been successful in achieving its mission and
goals. Focused on advancing innovation at all levels in the academic structure, Teachers College is well positioned both
academically and operationally to serve as a leader in shaping programs and fields that contribute to a smarter, healthier,
and more equitable world.
I would like to thank the Steering Committee, Working Groups, faculty in the 18 programs, and everyone who contributed
to the accreditation self-study. I encourage you to read the draft Selected Topics Self-Study Report at
http://www.tc.columbia.edu/middlestates/ and submit your comments and suggestions to our Steering Committee and working
Thank you,
Tom James
Provost and Dean of the College