Professor Matthew Ronfeldt's research on mentor teachers was highlighted in the TNth Period podcast. The TNth Period is a podcast produced by the Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA) to inform listeners about the status and impact of ongoing educational research. The podcast hosts spoke with teachers and researchers who have worked together on a project to improve the mentoring of students in educator preparation programs.
Since 2013, Ronfeldt has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Education to consider how to use data around teacher preparation to improve outcomes for new educator preparation program completers. First, a review of historical data revealed that recent completers are more instructionally effective when they have learned to teach with instructionally effective clinical mentors. They also discovered that mentor teachers received evaluations that were as strong or stronger in years that they served as mentors.
The research findings led to the Mentors Matter initiative. This initiative features two strategies: recruit teachers to increase the effectiveness of the pool of mentors (using evaluations from prior years) and train mentors to develop better coaching practices.
The team is also proposing a study of how the pandemic impacted the 2020 cohort of educator preparation program completers. They are also interested in studying mixed reality simulations as part of virtual professional development offerings.