The Structure of Initial Teacher Preparation
There are currently 42 Institutions of Higher Education (IES) in the Dominican Republic. Twenty-two of them offer programs in Elementary Education and 15 offer the program in Secondary Education with an Emphasis in Mathematics and Physics.
According to the General Report on Higher Education Statistics 2006-2009 of MESCYT, the Education programs were the second most in demand in 2006, 2007 and 2008 with respectively 15, 14 and 12 % of the total enrollment. It slipped to fourth place in 2009 with 11 % of the total. The graduation rate for four-year Education programs is around 24 % (MESCYT 2011). Most of the students are enrolled in Elementary Education programs and less than 1 % are in the Mathematics and Physics program.
The Elementary Education enrollment is concentrated in eight of the 22 IES that offer them and have 92 % of the enrollment. For Mathematics and Physics four of the 15 have 82 % of the total enrollment for that Emphasis.
The Elementary Teacher Education Program
Institutions of Higher Education that offer Elementary Education Programs must base their program of studies on Ordinance 1-2004 that was established by the National Institute for the Preparation and Professional Development of Teachers (INAFOCAM). This ordinance sets the student entrance and graduation profiles, and the distribution of courses to be taught. It also establishes the curriculum for the program with lists of courses, the number of credits for each course, the distribution of practical and theoretical hours for each course, as well as the organization of courses into academic periods.
This ordinance also establishes two concentrations for the Elementary Education program: one for teachers in the First Cycle (preprimary to grade 4) and another for the Second Cycle (grades 5-8). The programs of study have the first year in common. Beginning with the second year, some courses are in common and some are specific to the particular Cycle.
There have been modifications to improve this ordinance, but there are still reforms in progress that are not yet reflected in the current preparation programs. The curriculum requires courses in four basic areas: Mathematics, Spanish, Natural Science and Social Sciences. The Mathematics courses are organized as Integrated Studies in Mathematics I, II, III and IV. The other areas are similarly organized. The term “Integrated Studies” refers to integrating the content with the teaching and learning methodology specific to the area. In practice, in the majority of cases, specialist report that such integration is often not achieved.
We can group the courses in six strands in which the contents for teacher preparation are organized. The strands are the following:
- 1. General Education: Regular courses from those offered by the IES.
- 2. Content Courses: Letters, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Languages, Technology, Arts, Electives.
- 3. Mathematics Content Courses.
- 4. Pedagogical Courses: Pedagogical Theories, General Teaching Methods, Guidance and Counseling, Psychopedagogy, Planning, Psychology.
- 5. Mathematics Teaching Methods.
- 6. Student Teaching.
For this document we have considered the programs at only the eight of 22 IES’s that prepare 92 % of future Elementary teachers. Of those eight, two are public and the rest private. However, it is important to mention that INAFOCAM does supervise the programs in the private institutions.
An analysis of the programs in those eight institutions shows that no more than 10 % of the credits are in Mathematics content courses. Pedagogical courses oscillate between 26 and 40 %, but less than 8 % of those are specific to Mathematics Education. In all of the programs, student teaching is distributed in different parts of the curriculum, but always has courses on teaching methods as prerequisites.