Despite best efforts to fully prepare pre-service teachers (PSTs) with the knowledge and skills they will need as educators, many universities nationwide fall short of doing so. Poor or unrelated pre-service preparation of education majors prior to graduation creates disconnects between college coursework requirements and real-world expectations of educators, which decreases the value of these education programs. It also leaves many PSTs entering internship and subsequent first-year employment ill-prepared to handle all of the classroom responsibilities expected of them, which contributes to another nationwide problem: low retention of novice teachers. To address comprehensive preparation of PSTs, professors at one large metropolitan university in the southeastern United States initiated the Boots on the Ground (BotG) program, which exposes PSTs to direct instructional opportunities with K-12 students concurrently with early coursework. Multiple studies have found that closely integrating field experience with coursework is highly influential in increasing both the preparedness of PSTs and their self-efficacy as educators. This study is a mixed methods, participant-oriented program evaluation of the BotG program, meant to explore stakeholders' perspectives on the program's influence and inform improvement. It looks at the affect the BotG program has on perceived preparedness and self-efficacy of PSTs as well as its impact on different stakeholder groups. Study findings indicate that the early exposure to the profession and experience working with K-12 students provided to pre-service teachers who participated in the Boots on the Ground program may provide them with a means to increase perceptions of preparedness and self-efficacy for teaching. Findings also detail the program's influence on other stakeholders, including provision of extra support for the academic and behavioral support of K-12 students. The researcher also suggests implications for education and recommendations for further research.
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
College of Education and Human Performance
Teaching, Learning, and Leadership
Curriculum and Instruction
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Djak, Nikki, "Boots on the Ground: A Participant-Oriented Approach to Program Evaluation" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5969.