Ed majors learn by doing, sometimes by playing

by Andy Goodell

Majoring in education is hard work. But, sometimes, it’s fun and games.

“I think it’s important for them to do an activity a third- or fifth-grader might do so they can experience it,” Jack Gittinger, associate professor of education, said. “They wouldn’t really be able to apply what they learn if we just told them about it.”

Patricia Woodward-Young, associate professor of education, agrees with Gittinger that there is educational value in assigning elementary-level activities to Simpson students.

“I think it’s terrible if you just teach [education],” Woodward-Young said. “They do the activities and think critically of them.”

Gittinger said education students are assigned work a child could do because it helps them understand why they’ll assign similar activities to children.

“At the end of these activities we evaluate them for educational value,” Gittinger said.

Education majors are responsible for turning in a competency portfolio as part of their major in addition to the Writing Competency II, which every student must complete. This portfolio is not comprised of essays and research papers: Bulletin board designs and other items are included.

“They’re called artifacts,” Woodward-Young said. “They’re things they have created that demonstrate the skills and abilities to be effective teachers.”

Junior education major Matt Rauch said the portfolios demonstrate the full spectrum of the education department.

“I have to put works I completed throughout school that show I’m knowledgeable throughout different areas of the education curriculum,” Rauch said.

Woodward-Young said the portfolio prepares students for careers as educators.

“It’s a lot of work, but when they get out to teach they have to do a lot of the same,” Woodward-Young said.

Unlike other students at Simpson, the State Department of Iowa requires education majors to pass a C-BASE test. The exam includes sections evaluating English, math and writing skills.

Rauch said the education department is conscious of the effect its teaching methods have.

“We have fun while learning,” Rauch said. “I think that the profs actually care what we learn because it gets passed on to the next generation.”