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LSSU Response to DA - BIOLOGY

Review Panel Recommendations - August 2006
     (original reviewer comments March 2006)


Itemized revisions:



Application for State Approval of

Teacher Preparation Specialty Programs


Michigan Department of Education, Office of Professional Preparation Services

P.O. Box 30008, Lansing, Michigan 48909

Phone:  (517) 335-4610 *** Fax:  (517) 373-0542



  • For each new, amended, or experimental program, a separate application is required. 
  • Application and all documentation are to be submitted electronically. 
  • Fax or mail only the cover page that is signed by the unit head. 
  • All correspondence regarding this application should be addressed to the consultant/coordinator identified on Application Attachment 1. 


I.  Application Information


Lake Superior State University

MDE Endorsement Area and Code (from Application Attachment 2)


Biology (DA)

Date of this Application

February 4, 2005

Name and Title of Unit Head

Dr. David Myton, Chair, School of Education

Signature of Unit Head




II.  Contact Information for Questions Related to This Application

Contact Person’s Name and Title

Dr. Barbara Evans, Assoc. Prof. of Biology

Contact Person’s Phone Number

(906) 635-2164

Contact Person’s Fax Number

(906) 635-2266

Contact Person’s E-Mail Address



III.  Type of Request for Approval                                                                  (Indicate One)

New program for institution


U.S. Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Code, if vocational occupational area


Compliance with State Board of Education new or modified program criteria


Experimental program


Program amendment (See Section IX for guidelines)



IV.  Institutional Representatives                                                                 

Name/Title Specialty Mailing Address E-mail Address Phone Fax

Dr. Barbara Evans, Assoc. Prof. of Biology

Physiology Lake Superior State University  650 W. Easterday Avenue, Sault Saint Marie, MI  49783 bevans@lssu.edu (906) 635-2164 (906) 635-2266
Dr. Gregory Zimmerman, Chair Biology, Assoc. Professor of Biology Ecology Lake Superior State University  650 W. Easterday Avenue, Sault Saint Marie, MI  49783 gzimmerman@lssu.edu (906) 635-2470 (906) 635-2266
Dr. Nancy Kirkpatrick, Assoc Prof Biology Cellular Lake Superior State University  650 W. Easterday Avenue, Sault Saint Marie, MI  49783 nkirkpatrick@lssu.edu (906) 635-2894 (906) 635-2266


<<PR/PE Index 

Quick Link Index:

Section 1. Summary of Course Requirements

Section 2. Program Summary

Section 3. Instructional faculty

Section 4. Candidate Preparation

Section 5. Collaborative Partnerships

Section 6. Professional Development and Support

Section 7. Standards Matrix

Section 8. Special Recognition

Section 9. Instructional Methods

Section 10. Course Descriptions

Section 11.  Course Syllabi


            Biology (DA) Specialty Program

            Lake Superior State University

            February 4, 2005






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Section 2. Program Summary

(Narrative below)




a. Describe the philosophy, rationale, and objectives of the specialty program and explain how the program is consistent with the philosophy, rationale, and conceptual framework of the unit.


Lake Superior State University academic programs are contained in either of two units, the College of Professional Studies (containing the School of Education) or the College of Arts and Letters (containing the biology department).  Two faculty members hold dual appointments with the two Colleges, Dr. Myton (chemistry and education) and Dr. Brown (geology and education).  The School of Biological Sciences houses the Department of Biology.  The mission of the School is to facilitate student development by helping them identify and achieve their academic, personal, and professional objectives.  We focus on active student involvement in order to create a powerful learning environment, making special use of the abundant natural resources unique to the Upper Great Lakes region. Candidates are engaged in the enterprise of science through undergraduate research, inquiry-based learning, critical thinking, and progressive integration into its community of scholars.


The mission of the Department of Biology is to provide a rigorous and relevant curriculum that contributes to the intellectual and personal growth of its candidates. We offer the B.S. Biology, the B.S. Clinical Laboratory Science, the B.S. Fisheries and Wildlife Management, the B.A. Biology, and A.D. in Natural Resource Technology in a mutually supportive environment of teaching, learning, and student-centered research. The primary goal of the Department of Biology is to prepare a diverse group of students for careers as teachers, biomedical or natural resource scientists, or for entry into graduate and professional schools. The preparation of our candidates includes developing their critical thinking and communication skills, their knowledge of modern instrumentation, their ability to adapt to changing work conditions, their ability to work productively and cooperatively with other people, and their inclination for lifelong learning.  The department is committed to the preparation of highly qualified and well prepared teacher candidates.  The School of Biology offers majors and minors in biology for the secondary level.    Our program is closely aligned with state standards, our instructors well informed of the mission and values of the teacher preparation program, and our course content accessible and focused on the preparation of high quality teacher candidates.


The Biology Department shares the School of Education’s mission and vision. Our faculty use sound pedagogical techniques, including student-driven enquiry, close student/faculty and student/student collaboration, use of reflective essays and other modern techniques that go beyond just transmitting facts. Our faculty are active in their professions and thus model life long learning and community involvement.


The School of Education Vision Statement states that we are a community of learners bound by the shared values that exemplify excellence in the professional education of teachers.  The School of Education Mission Statement affirms that we are committed to provide opportunities for research, reflection and response in the education of teachers.  We achieve these opportunities through situated and contextual learning experiences, and in the foundations for the development of content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and professional dispositions.  We value a commitment to learning communities, and are dedicated to meeting the diverse needs of learners. 


In keeping with the logo of Lake Superior State University, the School of Education summarizes its mission in the motto: EDUCATING TEACHERS FOR TOMORROW’S SCHOOLS

With respect and understanding for individual differences and shared heritages

For whom learning is an ongoing lifelong process, and

With high academic and professional standards


We believe that the act of teaching and learning involves a framework of research, reflection, and response.  We see these elements as an evolving cyclical process, a pathway that learners and leaders of learning must employ to create powerful knowledge bases, develop as participatory members of a democratic society, and establish and maintain environments conducive to learning. The process of research, reflection, and response is focused upon four areas that we believe are the essential elements of expert teaching.  These areas include: content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, professional dispositions, and learning communities.  At the center of the process of acquiring and applying the skills and knowledge of professional practice we place the learner. 

We see the learner as inclusive of all stakeholders in schooling and education. 


What is

Research:  Expert teachers understand the need to maintain a current perspective on the numerous facets of education.  A professional educator strives to engage in the study of pedagogy, examination of the literature related to teaching and explore avenues for the transformation of theory to practice. The act of research is often precipitated by observed events in the classroom and school.  When dilemmas arise, expert teachers ask questions and then seek answers through research.


Reflection:  John Dewey stated “The active, persistent, careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it is reflective thought” (1933, p.9).  Expert teacher are continuously reflecting upon their practice.  Engaging in critique, they look at the elements of teaching as well as their whole practice within the contexts in which pedagogy is engaged.  The act of reflection requires the teacher to question their behavior, their beliefs as determinants of practice, and carefully consider the responsibility of being a leader of learning.


Response: The act of engaging in pedagogy should be responsive.  To implement change or modifications in one’s practice to better facilitate learning is a key element in the repertoire of an expert teacher.  Response however is not change for the sake of change.  Response is the act of planned change given careful research and reflection.  The professional educator employs change in relationship to perceived need, then after review of literature and active research within the classroom, supported by careful reflection, the teacher implements the change.  The expert teacher then monitors the response, actively engaging in continued research and reflection to better their pedagogical practice.


Content Knowledge: Teachers need to be broadly educated in the liberal arts and sciences, and be able to knowledgeable of the interdependence of the disciplines. They must be able to analyze and synthesize ideas, information, and data and make applications of knowledge in inquiry, problem-solving, and critical thinking. The professional educator must be an effective communicator, possessing the skills and abilities of listening, speaking, writing, and reading.


Pedagogical Knowledge: Professional educators must have the knowledge to effectively engage individuals in the learning process.  In order to engage in teaching excellence they must posses a strong understanding of cognition, the multidimensional dimensions of learners and learning, and demonstrate the skills of research, reflection, and responsive pedagogy.   Via an understanding of human growth and development, a variety of instructional techniques, assessments, materials and technologies, and an abundance of practical experience in classrooms, teacher candidates should be able to mature as exemplar professional educators.


Professional Dispositions: Teachers are stewards of society.  They are the models and guides of future generations. In light of their influence in classrooms and schools, all teachers and teacher candidates must model the ethics, values and dispositions of professional educators. They should be able to engage in active reflection, self-critique and accept constructive criticism from others.  The developing professional educator should invite and respect others' points of view and incorporate reasonable suggestions from peers and experts.  Teachers and teacher candidates should be committed to life-long learning and the belief that all candidates can learn.  


Learning Communities: Schools and classrooms are microcosms of society, and as such are the venues for candidates to learn and grow as participatory members of the community.  The themes of caring, responsibil°ity, democracy, and stewardship are woven into the fabric of curriculum as teachers and teacher candidates take on the role of facilitators of environments conducive to learning while modeling tolerance, dignity, participation and shared decision making.


As secondary-level biology teachers, our teacher candidates have a solid foundation in the content knowledge of their discipline.  Their content knowledge has a research basis as faculty incorporate their own research interests into the curriculum, as current developments in the discipline are incorporated into the classroom dialog, and as research into how students learn and understand is applied to the teaching of biology.  Candidates are frequently engaged in dialog through their courses, like TE443 Secondary Science Methods, in reflecting on their own understanding of science concepts, how to communicate those clearly to novice learners, and to assess student understanding through authentic experiences and exercises.  As candidates apply their pedagogical knowledge gained in the professional education sequence to the teaching of biology with progressively higher levels of responsibility and autonomy - moving from early field experience, through presentation of single topics, lessons, units to the full responsibility of the student teaching internship.  Candidates are assessed throughout these experiences, field work and internship, against the standards of the ELSMT, against content knowledge expectations, and in their demonstrations of appropriate professional dispositions.  In ever increasing steps the candidate prepare for their full assimilation into the learning community of their school and profession during their student teaching internship as a biology teacher under the mentorship of a highly qualified classroom teacher and a seasoned veteran who serves as the university supervisor and evaluator.


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b. Describe the sequence of courses and/or experiences to develop an understanding of the structures, skills, core concepts, ideas, values, facts, methods of inquiry, and uses of technology.


Lake Superior State University teacher candidates seeking a biology endorsement complete either a 39 semester hour major or a 25 semester hour minor, as listed on FORM XX: Biology (DA)  The major is comprised of:


BL122 Human Anatomy & Physiology II

BL131/132 General Biology I/II

BL204 General Microbiology

BL220 Genetics

BL240 Natural History of the Vertebrates

BL280 Biometrics

BL330 Animal Physiology

BL337 General Ecology (Aug06)

BL420 Population Genetics & Evolution

TE443 Secondary Science Methods


Additional biology electives are available within the department including Animal Behavior, Immunology, Parasitology, Limnology, Entomology, Ichthyology, Mammalogy, Ornithology, and a sequence of courses about Geographic Information Systems.  The biology major will complete one year of algebra & calculus and a chemistry minor as departmental cognates. 


All candidates completing majors in the department also complete a senior thesis project including a formal paper, poster and presentation at our undergraduate research symposium.  These projects are also often presented at our regional science conferences; many in recent years have been recognized for their innovation and scientific merit.  As a capstone event, the senior project including the presentation of the project outcomes.  These presentations serve as a landmark event whereby the candidate moves from recipient of knowledge prepared by others (a student) to become the expert in a field, to uncover and develop new knowledge and to participate in the dissemination of this knowledge to others (a researcher/teacher).  Candidates use appropriate technologies in the conducting of this research (analytical instrumentation, library research, quantitative and statistical analysis, etc) and in the presentation (computer software suites, presentation software, audio/visual presentation equipment, posters, etc).


Formal admission to the School of Education teacher certification program also requires (in addition to university general education requirements of one year English, one semester of speech, one year of social sciences, on year of humanities and a course in student diversity), the following items:

CS101 Introduction to Computer Science – addressing basic competencies in technology

MA207 Statistics

Michigan Test for Teacher Certification Basic Skills Test

Formal Interview

Impromptu timed essay – assessing written communication skills

2.70 minimum overall GPA with no grade below C in major/minor, and

B- minimum grade in professional education sequence courses.


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c.  Describe how candidates are prepared to utilize a variety of instructional approaches to address the various learning styles of candidates.


We use a wide range of teaching techniques in our classes and biology students are exposed to a variety of teaching styles. Each biology professor endeavors to use a variety of teaching styles to reach different kinds of learners. Our program is known for its hands-on, lab and field activities. All biology students complete a senior thesis research project and present their research to a symposium. They become well versed in how to reach a variety of technical and non-technical audiences. Many classes require in-class presentations that require similar audience analysis for varying learning modes.


Student learning styles are a significant topic addressed in the professional education core sequence, especially in TE250 Student Diversity and Schools and TE301 Learning Theory and Teaching Practice.  In TE301 candidates analyze various approaches to teaching and learning and the decisions which teachers make in applying theory to diverse classroom situations.  TE443 Secondary Science Methods extends these topics to the science classroom and provide a discipline specific context for continuing these discussions while candidate’s field placements are focused on instructional practice in their science specialty.


d.  Describe any differences that may exist between elementary or secondary preparation to teach in each major or minor area (e.g., instructional resources, field placements, instructional techniques), if applicable.


The biology endorsement is only available to secondary education candidates.


e.  Describe how the program incorporates gender equity, multi-cultural, and global perspectives into the teaching of the subject area.


Student diversity, and developing an appreciation of diversity issues in science education is addressed in TE443 Secondary Science Methods, a course required for all majors/minors.  The professional education core sequence contains a course devoted to this issue: TE250 Student Diversity and Schools.  TE250 is required for all teacher candidates prepared by Lake Superior State University.


f.  Describes how the program prepares candidates to use multiple methods of assessment appropriate to this specialty area.


Since the senior thesis project is a major outcome of our program, we use it as our key assessment opportunity. Each aspect of the student’s work is graded using a standardized rubric. Students are given a copy of the rubric and in some instances score each other’s work. Thus the TE students would have first hand experience with rubrics. We then examine the collection of scored criteria to look for opportunities for improvement in the senior thesis process (which includes Freshman Seminar, Soph Seminar, Jr Seminar)

Several classes also use rubrics to assess student learning.


We rely on the TE methods courses to provide students with experience in constructing and using multiple assessment tools appropriate for grades 7-12. Assessment, in addition to experiences gained through the content courses in biology, is addressed in TE443 Secondary Science Methods.  There candidates develop traditional and authentic assessments for both classroom and laboratory based activities, and apply the concepts learned in the professional education core courses such as TE431 Secondary Methods to the biology classroom.  In TE443 candidates develop assessment instruments for curriculum units they develop based on their specialty area.






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Section 4 Candidate Preparation

Submit available data specific to the program area being reviewed







Subject Test Code Test Date #  Examinees Scaled Mean Score # Pass % Pass # Not Pass % Not Pass Sub area pass %    
Biology 17 7/15/2000 2 209 1 50 1 50 50 50 50 100 50 50
Biology 17 10/7/2000 2 228.5 1 50 1 50 50 100 100 50 50 50
Biology 17 1/13/2001 7 222 4 57 3 43 43 71 29 57 43 86
Biology 17 4/21/2001 7 225.6 5 71 2 29 71 14 57 57 71 86
Biology 17 7/14/2001 1 218 0 0 1 100 100 0 0 100 0 0
Biology 17 1/12/2002 3 242.3 3 100 0 0 100 67 67 67 67 100
Biology 17 7/13/2002 1 254 1 100 0 0 100 100 100 100 0 100
Biology 17 1/11/2003 4 240.5 4 100 0 0 50 75 75 100 75 75
Biology 17 4/12/2003 1 252 1 100 0 0 100 100 0 100 100 100
Biology 17 4/3/2004 1 205 0 0 1 100 0 100 100 0 0 100
Biology 17 10/16/2004 1 223 1 100 0 0 0 100 0 0 0  
Statewide Biology 17     222.7   57   43 60 58 64 47 55 64



Our students compare favorably to the state average scores (222 for LSSU vs. 229 for the state).
Our pass rate of 70% is substantially greater than the state average pass rate. 
We see no consistent shortcomings across our students in terms of the subareas.
We will continue to monitor these results to ensure that our students remain well-prepared.



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Section 5 Collaborative Partnership

  • Describe how candidates for majors and minors in specific specialty programs participate in early field experiences in K-12 schools. 
  • Describe aspects of the student teaching experience for certification candidates that enhance the applicants’ abilities to teach in this specific specialty area.  Are candidates in your institution assigned to K-12 classrooms as student teachers in both their major and minor (if applicable)? 








We have a good record of field observations and internship placements with our Biology students. Students enter their internship well-prepared in their knowledge of biology and sound pedagogy.


Field placements are integrated throughout the professional education sequence beginning with TE250 Student Diversity and Schools where the focus is on tutoring experiences.  In subsequent courses, after admission to the School of Education, candidates have diverse and varied experiences of increasing responsibility and duration.  These early field experiences require a minimum of 15 hours per semester per course in focused experiences coupled with reflective journaling and fulfillment of additional course outcomes focused on the experiences.  Field experiences are required in each of the professional education core courses (TE250, TE301, TE430, TE431, TE440 and TE443) prior to entering the student teaching internship.  During the internship candidates work for approximately 22 weeks under the direct supervision of a classroom teacher and the periodic oversight of a university supervisor.  Candidates meet regularly with a university instructor for a seminar course, and are also concurrently enrolled in a graduate course each of the two semesters of the internship.  During the fall semester, candidates complete TE602 Reflection and Inquiry in Teaching Practice I examining qualitative and quantitative research methods and developing their own research based question addressing student learning.  During the spring semester students complete a second graduate level course on curriculum planning and implementation, TE605.


Student teaching internship placements extend across two university semesters, beginning generally with the start of the academic year in August/September and continuing through mid-April.  Candidates are strongly advised to use the transition at mid-year to change their placement venue to gain experience at a second level or subject area in the spring.  Such changes in placement do require the consent and concurrence of the building principals and teachers, and in some cases teachers wish to continue with a single student the entire time.  Wherever possible candidates are placed in situations where they can teach in both their major and minor fields, either through split morning/afternoon assignments with different teachers, or placements in different schools for each semester.


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Section 6 Professional Development and Support

Postponed until 2005-20012



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Section 8 Special Recognition





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Section 9 Instructional Methods

Describe how candidates are prepared to teach in this specific specialty area. 

Describe how this program will utilize technological resources.






The Biology sequence incorporates a variety of technological resources to give students the skills necessary to perform analytical research. In the General Biology sequence we introduce the use of basic laboratory equipment such as the microscope, balances, pH meters, spectrophotometers and also computer integrated data acquisition systems (currently we use BioPac). Later in the Genetics class, they become familiar with thermocyclers (for PCR) as well as gel and capillary electrophoresis (for DNA fragment analysis or sequencing).


Lake Superior State University teacher candidates are prepared in instructional methods through both the professional education sequence (TE150-TE443) and through courses in their chemistry curriculum.  In the professional education sequence, the secondary candidate completes TE430 General Methods for Secondary Teachers (a study of strategies and methodologies to facilitate learning...), TE440 Reading in the Content Area (a study of reading methods...) and TE443 Science Methods for Secondary Teachers (curriculum, objectives, content, materials, organization methods and assessment... ).  Each of these courses has a required fieldwork component where the candidate applies the concepts and theories through modeling and practice lessons in secondary classrooms as appropriate to their certification. 


Technology is integrated throughout the professional education sequence, in fulfillment of the 7th standard of the Entry Level Standards for Michigan Teachers (ELSMT).  The School of Education uses extensive resources available for Michigan teachers to enhance their preparedness for the effective use of technology, including, for example, the Preparing Teachers for Tomorrow project through Merit (http://ptft.merit.edu) and Intel's Teach to the Future project into our professional education sequence.  This integration is reflected in many of our internal documents which are archived on the School of Education website, including the PTFT alignment matrix and the PTFT assessments per module summary.


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Section 10 Course Descriptions

Provide descriptions of all courses contained on Application Attachment 3.  Descriptions must provide enough information to show that standards could logically be met in these courses. 





Course descriptions for each course are published in the university calendar (catalog), and reproduced here for reference.  Catalog course descriptions broadly describe course objectives, credit earned and prerequisites.  The course syllabi, provided in Section 11, are the more complete record of course content, objectives, assessment, and alignment to the content standards.


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Section 11 Syllabi


Provide a representative syllabus for each required course (those listed on Application Attachment 3 and referenced in the standards matrix).




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