Each higher education institution’s program of study, regardless of major, contains specific phases of progression that each student must successfully complete before being allowed to graduate. In other words, there is a planned, purposeful order to completing a program or earning a college degree—an individual does not just apply for admission and have complete autonomy over the courses taken, the sequence of coursework, when/where/if practica or internships are completed, and so on. The institution makes those decisions after carefully designing each given program of study. They decide things such as:
- Admission and enrollment criteria
- General education requirements
- # of semester hours required for graduation
- Minimum GPA required to pass each course
- Clinical experiences, internships, practica
- Exit examinations required for graduation (or state licensure, depending on the program)
Transition points are sometimes referred to as “gateways”—they are specific points at which a student passes from one stage in his or her program to the next. As long as a student meets the stated expectations, the journey continues and he or she moves ahead toward graduation. If the student fails to meet one or more expectations in a given stage, the institution implements a plan for remediation, additional support, or in some case, counseling out of the program.
I have created a Transition Points framework that may be useful to some educator preparation programs. Of course, Transition Points must be tailored to fit each unique program but could include gateways such as:
- Transition Point I: Applicant to Pre-Candidate Status
- Admission to the program
- Transition Point II: Pre-Candidate to Candidate Status
- Completion of Block #1 Coursework & Preparation for Formative Field Experiences
- Transition Point III: Candidate to Pre-Graduate Status
- Completion of Block #2 Coursework & Formative Field Experiences
- Transition Point IV: Pre-Graduate to Graduate Status
- Completion of Block #3 Coursework & Culminating Clinical Experiences
- Transition Point V: Graduate to Program Completer Status
- Pass Required Licensure/Certification Examination(s)
Do you see the progression? When detailed out, a complete Transitions Points or Gateway table should paint a portrait of a student’s journey from matriculation to program completion; the sequence should represent a logical flow with at least some detail relative to minimum expectations.
I hope this has been helpful to you. Need more ideas? Want to collaborate on a project? Feel free to reach out to me.
Dr. Roberta Ross-Fisher is a national leader in educator preparation, accreditation, online learning, and academic quality assurance. An accomplished presenter, writer, and educator, she currently supports higher education and P-12 schools in areas such as competency-based education, teacher preparation, distance learning, and accreditation through her company, Global Educational Consulting, LLC. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org