The Voice: Fall 2001

The Voice

Graduate education program grows

Sally Jongsma

    Dordt’s graduate education program completed another successful summer session this July. One hundred and sixteen students spent one to three weeks on campus, taking courses that ranged from “Advanced Educational Psychology” to “What’s New Besides Harry,” a course about children’s literature. The program offers an innovative format, giving students an in-depth program, but requiring them to spend a minimal amount of time on campus—and away from home.
    Of the 116 people who attended courses this summer, thirty are enrolled in the graduate degree program; the others took courses to meet staff development requirements in their schools.
    The master’s program continues to grow steadily, as do enthusiasm and appreciation for it. In their end-of-course evaluations students wrote:

  • I have learned so much. This was a “transforming” class for me in that it will change many aspects of how I approach teaching.
  • I was challenged to approach learning in a new way, which in turn broadened my understanding of the learner, how I should teach, and what I teach.
  • I have gained so much! An inspiring combination of theory and practice that is intentionally founded in Scripture.
  • A fantastic blend of teacher direction and class interaction/contributions.
  • Excellent model of a Christian teacher who practices what she believes.
  • This course was a practical and appropriate class for the program. It is the class that will directly impact my teaching more than any other I have taken. The instructor does an excellent job of modeling what she believes is important. She also showed me how to genuinely put my world view into my teaching.
    One of the people most excited about the program is the new director of the program, Dr. Kevin Eames. Eames, the former Chief Learning Officer at ExecuTrain Corporation in Alpharetta, Georgia, believes that the strengths of Dordt’s program lie in its depth of content, its talented and dedicated staff, and the committed students it attracts.
    Eames is also exited about the future of the program, especially current efforts to expand course offerings through distance learning technology. Last spring Dr. Dennis Vander Plaats offered a course for middle school teachers over the web, using Blackboard software to create an interactive vehicle for students to get assignments, carry on class discussions online, e-mail the professor, and chat with fellow students enrolled in the course.
     Although Eames believes that students do need to spend some time in real classrooms discussing around a table with classmates, he feels that these online courses are a good way to deliver information and still allow some interaction.
    “It is a more self-directed experience,” he says. Online learning has also gotten positive responses from students who live a long distance from the college but would like to take more courses. The program has included students from as far as California, Washington, and British Columbia.
    “We’d like to reduce the time spent on campus but not eliminate it,” Eames says, adding that not everything can be done well by remote connection.
    Eames’s dream is to have a sandwich approach in which students come to campus for the first summer, take courses via the web in the second summer, and study on campus again during the third year for capstone courses. He also hopes for greater collaboration with other Reformed colleges and universities who have master’s programs in education.

    Eames says he’s “tickled pink” to be in his new position. He looks forward to teaching and working with students to write and do the research needed to produce visionary leaders in education.

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