MAT Elementary Education Domains of Study
Areas of Study Within the
Master of Arts in Teaching Elementary (K–8) Program
The content for the WGU Master of Arts in Teaching (K–8) program is based on research of effective instruction as well as on national and state standards. It provides the knowledge and skills that enable teachers to teach effectively in diverse classrooms. The Master of Arts in Teaching program content and training processes are consistent with the accountability intent of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. This degree program is focused on the preparation of highly qualified teachers. As described in the federal legislation, a highly qualified teacher is one who not only possesses full state certification but also has solid content knowledge of the subject(s) he or she teaches. The hallmarks of our program include (a) appropriate and rigorous subject-matter preparation, (b) research-based pedagogical course preparation, and (c) clinical field experiences in which teacher candidates are supervised by trained coaches.
The following section includes the larger domains of knowledge, which are then followed by the subject-specific subdomains of knowledge.
Foundations of Teaching Domain
The Foundations of Teaching domain contains competencies underlying our knowledge about children, learning, and teaching. As you begin to work in the Foundations of Teaching domain, your mentor will assess your readiness to begin state-required content knowledge testing needed for certification. Your mentor will also assist you in beginning the process of application and acceptance into the two different components of WGU field experiences: the pre-clinical experiences (PCE) and demonstration teaching (DT). Video-based pre-clinical field experiences are embedded in the performance assessments of the Foundations of Teaching domain and require observation, analysis, and reflection based on real classroom situations (in-class PCE will take place in a school near you when you start work on the Effective Teaching Practices domain).
You may not transfer credits or prior years of teaching experience from other institutions to meet requirements of the Foundations of Teaching domain. In the first six months of working in the Foundation of Teaching domain, you must also register for and pass a Basic Skills Test. Many states require such a test for licensure, and you will need to take the one applicable to your state. For states with no specific Basic Skills Test, you will sign up for and take the Praxis 1 exam.
The FTC4 is a comprehensive exam assessing the student’s knowledge of the subdomains listed above. The student may participate in a comprehensive review session with a mentor and peers to prepare for the assessment.
Effective Teaching Practices Domain
The Effective Teaching Practices domain deals with knowledge and skills related to how to teach. All competencies in this domain are derived from research. While you are engaged in the learning opportunities of Effective Teaching Practices, you will also participate in pre-clinical experiences (PCE) that now go beyond the FOT video cases to actual teaching experiences in real classroom situations. You will apply for, and be given approval, by the Field Experiences Office to do your pre-clinical experiences in a school. PCE takes place prior to your actual demonstration teaching (DT) (student teaching) and will require you to spend time in a school completing various required tasks. While you are completing your Effective Teaching Practices domain, you will be assigned a placement specialist who will work to place you in an appropriate classroom for your demonstration teaching as you approach that point.
As you continue your work in this domain, you must pay careful attention to the cohort requirements and deadlines pertaining to your specified demonstration teaching entry date. Your final acceptance into your desired DT cohort will be approved only when you have met all the requirements. Your mentor and the Field Experiences Office will help you through this process. An additional fee is required prior to beginning demonstration teaching (the fee, except for the DT application fee, can be covered through the use of financial aid proceeds). This fee covers the cost of in-classroom clinical supervision. You may not transfer credits or prior years of teaching experience from other institutions to meet requirements of the Effective Teaching Practices domain.
Instructional Strategies and Approaches
Content refers to curriculum design and evaluation; lesson planning and materials development; and adapting instruction, accommodating diverse learners, and using technology to facilitate learning. Additional content deals with empirically based methods of teaching, both general case (e.g., learning strategies) and content specific (e.g., reading methods).
Instructional Presentation and Follow-Up
Content relates explicitly to teaching skills and information to children.
The comprehensive exam will assess the student’s knowledge of the subdomains listed above. The student may participate in a comprehensive review session with a mentor and peers to prepare for the assessment.
Literacy and Elementary Reading
Specific teaching methods in reading and content related to literacy.
Literacy and Elementary Language Arts and Handwriting
Specific teaching methods in writing, spelling, listening, speaking, and handwriting. Literacy assessments are included in this subdomain.
Specific Teaching Practices Elementary EducationMath and Science
Content focuses on teaching math and science.
Specific Teaching Practices: Elementary EducationSocial Science, Art, and Health
Content focuses on teaching social sciences, art, and health.
The comprehensive exam will assess the student’s knowledge of the subdomains listed above. Completing readings, modules, and study tips as you work through the courses of study and participating in the Specific Teaching Methods Learning Community help prepare you for the ELO4 competency exam. Each course of study will need to have the correct code entered in the text.
Demonstration Teaching Domain
The Demonstration Teaching Domain deals with the competencies a prospective teacher must demonstrate when teaching. Before you begin Demonstration Teaching, you must complete a number of requirements. These include a background check, standardized content examinations, and a dispositions inventory. Also, you must have completed all the above academic requirements before beginning Demonstration Teaching.
Demonstration Teaching is a full-time, in-classroom supervised experience required of all teacher candidates. The Demonstration Teaching phase of a teacher candidate’s program includes a series of classroom performance observations designed to gather data about your actual performance skills. A WGU clinical supervisor (an experienced educator who lives and works near your teaching location) will observe you on multiple occasionsat least six observations are requiredand evaluate you in accordance with published checklists and observation rubrics. In addition, where authorized, principals may provide one or more independent observations of WGU candidates. The clinical supervisors submit the results to WGU for review and recording. During your time in Demonstration Teaching, you will participate in a weekly cohort session via conference call. Your cohort is led by a facilitator and is comprised of a group of students teaching at about the same grade level. Your cohort facilitator will guide and support you through the Demonstration Teaching processes.
Research Fundamentals Domain
The research fundamentals domain prepares students to conduct research and also to become informed consumers of research. Your studies in this domain will include the following:
Foundations of Research
Focuses on differentiating between different research paradigms, including qualitative, quantitative, and action research.
Literature Reviews for Educational Research
Focuses on selecting an appropriate research topic, evaluating the reliability of primary and secondary source information, and conducting a literature review.
Focuses on developing a research proposal that includes the literature review, research questions, methodology, and data analysis.
Issues in Research Fundamentals
Focuses on developing a research strategy that clarifies what data to collect and how to analyze it using descriptive and inferential statistics.