Project Title

The Importance of Graduate Degrees in Education

Presenter Hometown

Louisville, KY

Major

Education of the Deaf & Hard of Hearing/Middle Grades (English)

Department

Special Education

Degree

Undergraduate

Mentor

Michelle Gremp, Julie Rutland

Mentor Department

Special Education

Abstract

There is much speculation today as to the benefits of educators obtaining graduate degrees and whether or not higher education is necessary for being an effective educator. However, the completion of a graduate degree has a distinctive impact on both the quality of students' learning and the educator's quality of life. Teachers with graduate degrees have greater qualifications for obtaining leadership positions, an enhanced sense of self-efficacy, professional connections that could potentially be a vital educational resource, an increased salary, and higher research, writing, and problem-solving skills. The latter three skills are beneficial to both teachers and students as these are the skills that are most fundamental for effective teaching and learning. Graduate degrees have been observed to positively affect the development and retention of high-quality teachers in our school systems and ensure that the people who are assigned to instruct children for the majority of their week are knowledgeable in their content area and equipped to handle any problems that may arise. We have analyzed data from a qualitative online survey among graduate students participating in a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) program from January 2015 through December 2018. The students involved completed a self-assessment based on Kentucky IECE teacher competencies at the beginning of their time in the program and at graduation. This information portrays how confident teachers were in their instructional competency both before and after receiving a graduate degree, and there is a significant improvement in self-ratings after completion of a graduate degree.

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The Importance of Graduate Degrees in Education

There is much speculation today as to the benefits of educators obtaining graduate degrees and whether or not higher education is necessary for being an effective educator. However, the completion of a graduate degree has a distinctive impact on both the quality of students' learning and the educator's quality of life. Teachers with graduate degrees have greater qualifications for obtaining leadership positions, an enhanced sense of self-efficacy, professional connections that could potentially be a vital educational resource, an increased salary, and higher research, writing, and problem-solving skills. The latter three skills are beneficial to both teachers and students as these are the skills that are most fundamental for effective teaching and learning. Graduate degrees have been observed to positively affect the development and retention of high-quality teachers in our school systems and ensure that the people who are assigned to instruct children for the majority of their week are knowledgeable in their content area and equipped to handle any problems that may arise. We have analyzed data from a qualitative online survey among graduate students participating in a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) program from January 2015 through December 2018. The students involved completed a self-assessment based on Kentucky IECE teacher competencies at the beginning of their time in the program and at graduation. This information portrays how confident teachers were in their instructional competency both before and after receiving a graduate degree, and there is a significant improvement in self-ratings after completion of a graduate degree.