EDUC 201 (The Profession of Teaching) is a three-credit introductory educational studies course that provides those interested in becoming teachers with a general and balanced overview of the profession. Students will look closely at what teachers do and how they do it, and in the process they will, as prospective teachers, gain a better grasp of the reality of classroom teaching. This course has no prerequisites and there is a Challenge for Credit option if you are interested.
The Profession of Teaching is made up of nine units, one assignment weighing fifteen percent (due at the end of unit three), a second assignment worth twenty-five percent (due at the end of unit five), a third assignment for another twenty percent (due at the end of unit seven), and a final examination weighing forty percent, which will have content from all units. The units within this course cover topics such as teaching, learning, inclusion, being in charge, assessment, computers, and the rewards of teaching. To receive credit for EDUC 201, students must achieve a minimum grade of fifty percent on each assignment and a minimum grade of fifty percent on the final examination. The final exam for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation center. For more information on Athabasca University’s exam process or to see a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, please visit the Exam Invigilation Network.
Dougal MacDonald, PhD has been a tutor at Athabasca University for over nine years and has been the only tutor for EDUC 201 since he completed writing the first version of the course back in 2009. He states, “Since 2014, I have been a co-Chair of CUPE Local 3911 which represents 353 Athabasca University part-time workers known as tutors and academic experts. I am also the 3911 Communications Director and a member of the Bargaining Committee. I was Chair of the CUPE 3911 organizing committee for COCAL XII in 2016 in Edmonton and participated in previous COCALs in Mexico City, New York, San Jose, and of course Edmonton. I am also a member of the University of Alberta faculty association (AASUA) and a former co-Chair of the contract teaching constituency of that organization. I completed my PhD in 1995 at University of Calgary. Prior to that, I was an elementary school teacher. I have taught on contract since 1988 at a number of Alberta universities and colleges, including Athabasca U, U of Alberta, U of Calgary, Northern Lakes College, and Yellowhead Tribal College, both face-to-face and online. During this time, I have presented at numerous education conferences including AERA and NARST, as well as published articles in refereed academic journals. I have been a political activist and revolutionary journalist for many decades, including advocating for the rights of contract academic staff, the right to education, increased funding for education, and free post-secondary education. In 2016, I won the Alberta Federation of Labour’s May Day Solidarity Award for my “long-time contributions to peace and social justice”.
Dr. MacDonald explains the course as “an introduction to the profession of teaching, especially at the school level. It provides a comprehensive description of the various components of teaching, including teaching itself, classroom management, learning, inclusion, assessment, the use of computers, and so on. The basic question the course tries to answer is, “What does it take to become a teacher?” or, to make it more personal, “Do I want to become a teacher?”
He continues, “The course is divided into nine units. In the new version, soon to be published, this has been increased to twelve units. There are three assignments: a review of a book on teaching, teaching something from the Alberta curriculum to a student one-on-one and analyzing the results, and an analysis of the Alberta Education Parent Guide to the standardized tests given to Grade six students. The first and third assignments are about two thousand words each. The length of the second assignment varies quite a lot depending on the student and the lesson. The final exam asks the student to answer in short essay form five general questions pertaining to the course materials.”
He states that almost all of his students complete the course and do well, explaining “To succeed, the student who takes the course just needs to work steadily, stick reasonably close to the suggested schedule, and do the assignments as they arise in the course materials. My main advice to students enrolled or about to enroll in the course is to try to keep to the schedule, follow the guidelines on the assignments—especially the one about providing evidence for your claims, and take the marking feedback seriously.”
Dr. MacDonald would recommend this course to any student, stating “Teaching is the most important job in the world. Good people are always needed. Until a person gains some understanding as to what teaching is all about that person has no idea whether she or he would want to be a teacher.”
Most courses have content that some students tend to struggle with, though he notes “If students struggle, it is usually because they make unsubstantiated claims in their assignments instead of backing them up with concrete evidence. That lowers their mark.”
Whether this course is a requirement for your degree or program or the topics discussed above are of interest to you, Dr. Dougal MacDonald states that EDUC 201 “students will take away a better understanding of what teaching is and whether that student wants to be a teacher.”