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MS Education and Community Leadership

*In Fall of 2015, WISR merged the MS degree in Education with the MS degree Community Leadership and Justice, into one degree:  MS in Education and Community Leadership.

The following sections on this degree program are as follows:

Mission of MS program in Education and Community Leadership and Justice

This program prepares students for Leadership in Education and for Community Leadership roles concerned with both social justice and the importance of learner-centered education.

Community Leadership:

This is an exceptionally innovative and extremely distinctive program of graduate level and personalized studies, and it aims to prepare students for positions, careers, and/or community involvement in community leadership and creative change–in the professional fields of human services and community development. This program is also well-suited for those wishing to act as community leaders and change agents in small businesses, grassroots community organizations, and activist groups, and as self-employed or retired engaged citizens.  WISR students are strongly motivated people, who find WISR’s learner-centered methods well-suited to their needs and purposes, and who are confident that WISR can help them to achieve a high level of expertise in action-research and in their chosen field(s)—in community leadership and/or education, and their particular areas of professional practice.

This program, like all of WISR’s educational programs, is suited for learners with many different types of future goals, including but not limited to:  changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, or making contributions to others and to the larger community as an unpaid expert drawing on one’ professional knowledge, skill and talents.

WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership is aimed to meet the needs of innovatively-minded people who want the responsibility and opportunity to serve as leaders in educating and joining with others to improve their communities, and to do so,while being mindful of such “bigger picture” concerns as social justice, sustainability, and multicultural and class inclusiveness in decision-making. Special emphasis is given to the role of education–particularly to strategies of adult and community education, in leadership and working with others to bring about constructive changes.  Over the years, WISR students, aiming to prepare or further develop themselves as community leaders, have focused on such issues as: improved health education and access to address health disparities, the unmet needs of low-income elders, the challenges facing youth who age out of the foster care system, violence prevention and gang reduction, the potential of urban farming, Native American rights and cultural preservation, the significant and remaining challenges to achieve equality and civil rights for marginalized groups, workplace bullying, gender inequality, domestic violence, mass media and racial discrimination, prison reform, racial profiling, and community economic development, among others.  Sometimes, WISR students focus on one or more aspects of education—from pre-school through high school to higher education, and especially adult and community education.  WISR has attracted creative, dedicated learners concerned with local, as well as national and global, problems and solutions. Across these various interests, many WISR students, and faculty, have worked in different communities, in different types of organizations, and with people of many varied ages, ethnic groups, interests and commitments. Across these various involvements, there have been some recurring themes:  the importance of working on the immediate tasks as well as the “bigger picture,” finding ways to create constructive solutions rather than merely reacting to the prevailing constraints, and developing an awareness of and commitment to diversity and to multicultural inclusiveness.

WISR’s MS Education and Community Leadership and Justice is well suited to those interested in becoming skilled and sensitive leaders and community educators, devoted to solving local and immediate problems, while also working for the longer-term, larger social changes.  The program can be valuable for people pursuing careers in non-profit community agencies, small businesses, activist and grassroots organizations, international NGOs, and as self-employed or retired engaged citizens. In particular, WISR encourages people to apply whose purposes and interests re within the interdisciplinary scope of this MS program, and who are aiming to develop distinctive career niches for themselves.

Educational Leadership

This program also aims to prepare students for positions, careers, and/or community involvement in leadership and creative change in the field of education.  WISR students are strongly motivated people, who find WISR’s learner-centered methods well-suited to their needs and purposes, and who are confident that WISR can help them to achieve a high level of expertise in action-research and in their chosen field(s)—in community leadership and education, and their particular areas of professional practice.

This program, like all of WISR’s educational programs, is suited for learners with many different types of future goals, including but not limited to:  changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, or making contributions to others and to the larger community as an unpaid expert drawing on one’ professional knowledge, skill and talents.

WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership is aimed to meet the needs of innovatively-minded people who want to improve one or more aspects of education—from pre-school through high school to higher education, and also including adult and community education.  Quite importantly, this program also aims to develop educators who are able and inclined to assume the role of community leaders as part of the “bigger picture” of their roles as educators. WISR has attracted creative, dedicated learners concerned with such varied topics as second language instruction, the preservation of indigenous language and culture through education, continuing education for professionals concerned with such specific topics as workplace bullying, the development of labor-oriented studies in school curricula, the development of ethnic studies curricula and more culturally inclusive studies of history, the role and importance of play in early childhood education, methods for training therapists who wish to combine somatic and verbal approaches  in working with survivors of major forms of trauma, the development of educational programs for people in prison, to those educators, other professionals, and other citizens aiming to make an impact on the field of education, improving vocational and technical education curricula in an institution serving students from many countries from all over the world, providing education in methods of non-violent communication for adults in various different cultures, among a host of other important and distinctive concerns with educational innovation and improvement.  Across these various interests, many WISR students, and faculty, are often committed to the importance of improved multicultural education, and the use and further development of learner-centered approaches to education.

WISR’s MS program track in Education is well suited to students who are interested in promoting the development of learner-centered forms of education and/or in the role of education in working toward social changes for justice, sustainability and multiculturalism, either inside and outside of established schools and other educational institutions.  The program is not designed for those seeking careers and jobs that require teachers’ credentials or school administration credentials or that require an accredited graduate degree. Graduates of this program may aim to seek employment in non-profits, some alternative private schools, nongovernmental organizations, or to start their own organizations or become self-employed.  WISR encourages people to apply whose purposes and interests re within the interdisciplinary scope of this MS program, and who are aiming to develop distinctive professional career niches for themselves.

 

Learning Objectives for Students in the MS in Education and Community Leadership

Major learning outcomes for students in this program include:

WISR student, Agnes Morton, working for change with her Overtown community

Agnes Morton working for change with her Overtown communitye.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP SKILLS AS A SELF-DIRECTED LEARNER, INCLUDING BECOMING A CONSCIOUS, INTENTIONAL AND IMPROVISATIONAL LEARNER

Master’s students will develop as self-directed learners who are able to identify relevant topics for study and to participate actively with faculty in developing a coherent plan of personalized study across WISR courses. They will learn how to do conscious and deliberate planning and critically reflective comparison of alternative courses of action. In pursuing their studies, the student will be articulate plans for building bridges for the next steps in their life, and particularly, a definition of their role in becoming knowledgeable and competent in their area(s) of specialized knowledge and practice.

In evaluating the student’s progress with this program learning objective, faculty will consider the following indicators of student progress and competence.

The student will:

  1. The student will develop, with faculty guidance, a coherent plan of personalized study.
  2. As part of the development of this plan, the student will assess their learning strengths and challenges.
  3. The student will identify alternative courses of action for their studies at WISR and beyond graduation.
  4. The student will articulate at least one plan for becoming expert in their major area(s) of specialization;
  5. The student will articulate at least one plan for building bridges toward the future as a professional and/or community leader, including their definition of their role as an expert.

Outcomes: This will be evidenced in how they identify and successfully study special topics of interest for in depth study within each WISR course, especially in doing their papers and action-research labs for each course, as well as in their thesis. Furthermore, the student’s competence as a self-directed learner with be evidenced in faculty-student dialogue and faculty observations of the student’s learning processes, oral exams, and the student’s written self-assessments, as well as in how their sense of purpose and plans are reflected in their papers, action-research projects, and thesis.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP EXPERTISE IN METHODS OF PARTICIPATORY AND ACTION-RESEARCH

Master’s students will become competent in using methods of action-research. They will learn and use methods of action-research on various specific topics of inquiry and action in their courses, and especially in the thesis. This includes the ability to discuss, the rationale, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the action-research methods used, along with practical and ethical considerations. At least in modest ways, their thesis and other action-research projects will be designed to contribute to improved practices and knowledge in the student’s main area(s) of emphasis.

In evaluating the student’s progress with this program learning objective, faculty will consider the following indicators of student progress and competence:

  1. The student will use methods of action-research in more than one way, and with more than one purpose, in their courses and the thesis.
  2. The student will identify strengths and limitations of their methods.
  3. The student will identify questions for further study and possible follow up actions that would be appropriate.
  4. The student will identify ethical and practical considerations that they had to take into account.
  5. They will articulate an overall rationale for why they designed their action-research project the way that they did, and why they designed this way rather than using a different alternative.
  6. In at least one course (most often, the thesis), the student will design a coherent action-research project with a clearly articulated purpose that is likely to be of benefit to others, by contributing to improved practices and knowledge in the student’s main area(s) of emphasis.

Outcomes: The above objectives will be evidenced especially in the student’s papers and action-research labs, and in the thesis. In addition, the student’s written self-assessments and oral exams will demonstrate the depth of the student’s understanding of methods of action-research.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP A MULTICULTURAL, INCLUSIVE PERSPECTIVE

Throughout their studies, Master’s students will reflect on, and articulate, with some degree of nuance and complexity, how multicultural concerns and perspectives can be incorporated into the ideas and practices of their broad major field of study (Education, Community Leadership or Counseling Psychology), as well as in their area(s) of specialization. In addition, they will reflect on, and articulate, the relevance of multicultural perspectives in improving ideas and practices in their field of study and area(s) of specialization. This could include discussing the relevance, to their field of study and specializations, of the development, and practice of, empathy, compassion, a sense of community with others–and an appreciation of the broad spectrum of perspectives and consciousness that arise out of people’s culture, gender identity, economic background, religious and sexual preferences.

In evaluating the student’s progress with this program learning objective, faculty will consider the following indicators of student progress and competence:

  1. The student will identify and discuss the relevance of multicultural concerns and perspectives to what they studied–in their papers and/or senior thesis, and/or in their written self-assessments, in their collaboration with other students, and in oral exams.
  2. The student will also identify challenges and practical considerations that might be involved in making use of those multicultural concerns and perspectives. In identifying these challenges and considerations, the student is expected to demonstrate and articulate an awareness of dilemmas and complexities that might be involved.
  3. The student will identify the relevance to their area(s) of specialization of–multicultural concerns and perspectives, and/or the practice of empathy, compassion and inclusiveness in community with others.

Outcomes: The depth, complexity, and nuance with which the student has integrated this knowledge and holistic understanding into their expert knowledge of their field and specialization(s) will be evidenced in the student’s papers, action-research labs, written self-assessments, oral exams, dialogue with faculty and other students, and thesis.

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP SKILLS IN MAKING CONNECTIONS WITH THE BIGGER PICTURE AND INQUIRING INTO WAYS OF CREATING CHANGE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, GREATER EQUALITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Master’s students will continually practice, in their reflections in their readings and in different situations in doing action-research, connecting “micro” issues and perspectives with “macro” dynamics and perspectives continually. Students are to demonstrate an awareness of the connections between immediate situations and the “bigger picture”–to formulate and develop their own, holistic perspective, as a guide to their studies and to their own professional and/or community leadership plans.

In evaluating the student’s progress with this program learning objective, faculty will consider the following indicators of student progress and competence:

  1. The student will identify a “micro” as well as a “macro” perspective on their topic of study.
  2. They will identify the connections between the “bigger picture” and the immediate, everyday experience.
  3. They will use the identified connections to suggest concepts, action plans and/or research questions to more deeply examine the topic of concern, and to guide their future studies and/or professional or community involvement, and more generally.
  4. They will identify at least one way in which an awareness of a micro/macro connection is important in their area of specialization.

Outcomes: The development, use and refining of the student’s holistic perspective on the topics of concern to them will be evidenced in the writings in their papers, reflections on readings, and self-assessments; in their projects in the action-research labs, as well as in dialogue with faculty and fellow students, and oral exams.

THE STUDENT WILL BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE CLEARLY TO THEIR AUDIENCE(S), IN THEIR OWN VOICE AND ON TOPICS THAT MATTER TO THEM, AND LEARN TO COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS

Master’s students will be able to discuss, in depth and with clarity, in their dialogue with faculty and in their collaborations with others–ideas and practices in their field of study (Psychology, Education, or Community Leadership) and area(s) of specialization.

In evaluating the student’s progress with this program learning objective, faculty will consider the following indicators of student progress and competence:

  1. The student will be able to write in their own voice, and from their own perspective or point of view.
  2. They will write and discuss issues and ideas clearly, in an organized fashion.
  3. The student will demonstrate an awareness of at least one possible audience, and that shows an awareness of the needs, interests and perspectives of that (those) audience(s).
  4. The student will write about general principles in relation to specific situations, examples and stories.
  5. The student will demonstrate in their writing and/or oral expression, an awareness of the impact of varying situations and contexts.
  6. The student will identify more than one theoretical perspective and/or strategic/practice approaches that they have considered in their studies and inquiries.
  7. The student will use most of their papers to fine tune and/or further develop their own thinking on the topic of concern.
  8. The student will perform collaborative activities with others—through the online forum, seminars, collaborative projects and/or informal discussions—by: 1) using their collaborative activities to more deeply engage themselves and others in thinking more deeply and inquisitively about the topic being discussed, 2) to develop further, theories and/or practices in their area(s) of specialization, and 3) contributing to their learning and the learning of others.
  9. In addition, faculty will assess whether the student’s performance is outstanding, adequate, or in need of improvement, in how well the student writes their papers and their dissertation–in terms of how well the student

a. clearly writes most sentences and paragraphs,

b. develops each writing in an organized, and easy to follow and understand, fashion,

c. is able to discuss how they arrived at their conclusions—their insights, questions, and/or recommendations.

10. Finally, faculty will assess whether the student’s performance is outstanding, adequate, or in need of improvement—in their written work and oral exams—with respect to the extent to which the student:

a. has effectively and adequately used more than one perspective and approaches to understand nuances in their topic of study.

b. uses specific examples, situations and stories to illustrate their ideas and points.

c. discusses some of the details of how they have learned what they have learned through their inquiries.

Outcomes: The student’s written skills will be evidenced in their papers, thesis, written self-assessments, and critical reflections on readings. Their oral communication skills will be evidenced in their dialogue with faculty and other students and in oral exams. Their collaborative skills will be evidenced primarily in their collaboration with other students and those beyond the WISR community of learners, which in some cases, will be manifest in the student’s papers, thesis and written self-assessments. With regard to faculty assessment of student communication outcomes:

THE STUDENT WILL DEVELOP THE CAPABILITY OF PURSUING EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES, AND/OR COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENTS, APPROPRIATE TO THEIR CAPABILITIES, EXPERIENCE, AND INTERESTS

For those MS students in Education and Community Leadership for whom employability or career advancement is an objective, they will:

1. explore and gain knowledge of professional and/or community leadership career paths that incorporate their interest, values and purposes;

2. gain sufficient competence and expertise in one or more areas of specialization to be considered for positions that make good use of their competence and expertise, including positions in schools, non-profit organizations, grassroots community groups, small business operations, international affairs, or local civic affairs; in other words, have “competence” in their knowledge and skills in an area of endeavor in their field;

3. and/or be able to use their knowledge, skills, and ability as self-directed learners to make their current job positions more interesting, meaningful and /or productive; and/or to create their own options and alternatives for employment and/or community involvement, such as for example, starting a new program in an existing organization, starting a non-profit, or creating one’s own self-employed practice.

For those more concerned with community involvement than employment, the above objectives apply in terms of leading to what the student considers to be meaningful community involvement.

In surveying students and alumni to obtain evidence with this Program Objective, WISR will evaluate:

  1. The satisfaction of students and recent alumni—how, if at all, are they a) satisfied with how their WISR learning has contributed to their realizing these objectives, and b) able to identify some specific examples of how their WISR learning has contributed to these objectives.
  2. The performance of recent alumni—in surveys, their employers, coworkers, and/or clients will express satisfaction with the professional, community and/or leadership contributions of WISR alumni.

Outcomes: The achievement of these objectives will be evidenced in surveys of students, recent alumni, and the employers, coworkers, and/or clients of recent alumni. In addition, evidence will be found in the students’ written self-assessments, oral exams, thesis, and especially, employment and/or community involvement in the first two years post-graduation.

In surveying students and alumni to obtain evidence with this Program Objective, WISR will evaluate:

  1. The satisfaction of students and recent alumni—how, if at all, are they a) satisfied with how their WISR learning has contributed to their realizing these objectives, and b) able to identify some specific examples of how their WISR learning has contributed to these objectives.
  2. The performance of recent alumni—in surveys, their employers, coworkers, and/or clients will express satisfaction with the professional, community and/or leadership contributions of WISR alumni.

Outcomes: The achievement of these objectives will be evidenced in surveys of students, recent alumni, and the employers, coworkers, and/or clients of recent alumni. In addition, evidence will be found in the students’ written self-assessments, oral exams, thesis, and especially, employment and/or community involvement in the first two years post-graduation.

THE STUDENT WILL BECOME KNOWLEDGEABLE IN THEIR MAJOR FIELD OF STUDY, AND IN THEIR PARTICULAR AREA(S) OF SPECIALIZATION

Master’s students will become knowledgeable about, and confident in, their knowledge of, the details–including the strengths, limitations, and realms of applicability–of a variety of theories, perspectives and practices in their broad field of study (i.e., Education, Community Leadership, or Counseling Psychology), and they will become competent in at least one area of specialization within their broad field of study.

In evaluating the student’s progress with this program learning objective, faculty will consider the following indicators of student progress and competence in their field and area(s) of specialization:

  1. The student will demonstrate knowledge of several theories and strategies of practice in their field, and
  2. The student will critically examine those theories and practices, and identify and articulate, the circumstances in which each is most likely to be most useful and valuable, given their strengths and limitations.
  3. The student will be able to engage in conscious and deliberate planning and critically reflective comparison of alternative courses of action, while critically examining theories and principles of practice with an increased awareness of uncertainty, complexity and subtlety in using such theories and principles.

More specifically:

4. The student will identify and compare alternative courses of action.

5. The student will identify, and explain the relevance of, their recommendations for a chosen plan of action.

6. The student will identify uncertainties and dilemmas that experts in their area(s) of specialization face, and

7. The student will identify and propose a possible strategy or line of inquiry that takes into account those uncertainties and complexities.

Taken together, in accomplishing the above objectives, the student will demonstrate that they are aware of complexities in using general principles—the theories and methods of practice and action—in their field and specialization(s).

Outcomes: This “competent” level of skills and knowledge will be manifest in student papers and action-research activities, in the student’s written self-assessments and oral exams, especially, and also in dialogue with faculty and other students. The student may show readiness, and/or initial engagement in addressing the demands of becoming more holistic, creative and proficient in their area(s) of specialization—as evidenced in the student’s Master’s thesis, written self-assessments, and oral exam.

Admission, Transfer of Credit, Orientation

Admissions

Entering students must hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. Students with undergraduate degrees from unaccredited institutions may apply for special admission—by submitting evidence of the quality of their previous academic study (e.g., copies of papers, or recommendations from academicians who hold accredited doctoral degrees).  Such applicants may also submit information about successful community projects in which they have played a key role, as well as professional or scholarly papers or projects that they have produced. In these cases, we are looking for evidence that suggest that their previous undergraduate study, and their resulting competencies, are at the level expected of accredited programs. In some cases, such students may be admitted provisionally, and  be on probation for a six-month period, during which time they can demonstrate their preparedness for study in WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership program.

In addition to transcripts of previous academic work, and an affidavit where they attest to the details of their high school graduation or passage of the GED, all applicants must submit a one-page application form, and a brief statement of their interests and reasons for wanting to study in WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership, along with two letters of recommendations from academicians, professionals, or community leaders familiar with the student’s accomplishments and abilities.  Quite importantly, all applicants must have an interview with WISR’s President or a faculty member in the MS in Education and Community Leadership and Justice—to determine if WISR’s program will address the student’s needs and purposes, and if there is a good fit between the student’s desired approaches to learning and the “WISR way.”

Transfer of Credits

Entering students may submit for faculty approval, up to 6 semester units of previous Master’s level work, for transfer. Such credit will be subject to the same process and criteria of review that was discussed above under “Admissions.”

Orientation to WISR

All entering MS in Education and Community Leadership students must enroll in a three semester unit course on “Learning the WISR Way.”  In this course, students read articles about WISR’s approach to learning, including self-directed, learner-centered education; discuss these articles with WISR faculty; interview alumni and currently enrolled students to learn more about WISR’s approach to learning.

Description and Goals: “This is an introductory course, required of WISR students in all degree programs, which is designed to enable students to progress more effectively toward the successful completion of the degree program at WISR, so that students can get the most from their WISR education—in pursuing their learning passions and career interests, in developing the core meta-competencies valued at WISR, and in building bridges for themselves to the next significant things they wish to do in their lives.   Students read and study the methods of “Learning the WISR way”–studying the theories and strategies of WISR’s approach to transformative learning for professional and community leadership, as well as learning from stories and specific examples drawn from the experiences of other WISR students.

WISR student, Shyaam Shabaka, with youth at EcoVillage Farm

WISR student, Shyaam Shabaka, with youth at EcoVillage Farm

Also, students are introduced to methods of note-taking and writing in their own voice, as well as the use of professional conventions in formal writing and strategies of effective online research. In this course, students reflect on, discuss and write about what they are learning in the course, and the culminating papers are a reflective autobiographical essay, a preliminary educational plan and a self-assessment inventory of strengths, challenges, needs, and opportunities in the pursuit of their future goals and learning.”

In writing these papers, students must include a statement of how and why WISR’s self-paced, learner-centered methods are appropriate for them—with fewer hours in traditional, large classrooms, and more time spent for 6 or more hours per week in one-on-one mentoring sessions and small group seminar discussions.

Learners must include in their autobiographical statement, learning plan, and self-assessment, an analysis of how and why distance learning at WISR is feasible for them, and will result in their being able to meet their needs and accomplish their goals.

These statements are to be discussed, reviewed and approved by at least one member of the WISR faculty.

Finally, this course is also used to introduce and orient new students to 1) WISR’s career center and resources, and 2) WISR’s library resources, the library resources of other libraries and online databases which WISR will enable or help students to access.

Regulations regarding WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership

Length of Study

The vast majority of WISR students are mature adults with significant work and family responsibilities, time demands and commitments. Most students will progress at a rate approximately equivalent to half-time enrollment.  WISR’s tuition is very affordable, even in comparison to other private institution’s rates for half-time enrollment. All WISR students pay the same tuition, and those students who are able to pursue their studies with an intensity and at a pace comparable to students who are seriously engaged full-time students will very likely be able to graduate in 40 to 50 percent of the estimated time for studies in WISR degree programs.

For many students pursuing a MS degree in Education and Community Leadership the length of study at WISR may be expected to be about 4 years, unless they are able to study at the intensity of a seriously engaged full-time student.* Some students complete this program in about two years. In all cases, faculty will strive to support students in their efforts to complete their degree in a timely manner, while also benefiting from their studies at WISR in ways that will help them build bridges to the next important life goals.

*These program length expectations do not include any time off for leaves of absence due to matters resulting from health issues, family responsibilities or periods of financial hardship.  Each leave of absence must be for a minimum of six months, during which time the student does not pay tuition, and during which time the student may not receive credit for any efforts related to their studies at WISR.  The student pays a $600 re-enrollment fee when resuming their studies.

Faculty review of student progress

A Committee of at least three WISR faculty, will review each student’s progress semi-annually, in consultation with the faculty with whom the student has been most closely working.  The purpose of these reviews is to help students make timely progress toward their degree and their personal and professional career goals.  In conducting these reviews, faculty will be mindful that during the first year or so of study, students at WISR do not typically complete courses at the same rate as they do after that.   When faculty have concerns about a student’s progress, they will negotiate with that student a progress plan for the next six months.  The purpose of the plan will be to enable the student to make better progress, and to assess whether or not it is realistic for the student to succeed in completing the program in a timely fashion.  If, after the end of the six-month progress plan, WISR faculty do not believe that it is realistic that the student can complete the program within reasonable time frame (specifically, 4 to a maximum of 6 years for this MS program), then the faculty committee reviewing student progress will recommend that the student be disenrolled.  (Note:  students enrolled prior to July 2014 will have a longer period of time to complete their studies, but they will still be subject to disenrollment if they do not show continual progress.) The student may appeal any decision to WISR’s Board of Trustees. If the student is disenrolled, they will be given an opportunity, after a period of at least six months, to re-apply for admission, if they can make the case that their circumstances and/or ability to complete the program have improved.  If re-admitted, they will be given one six-month period to demonstrate good progress, and they must continue to demonstrate good progress in each subsequent six-month period.

Course Descriptions and Requirements for MS in Education and Community Leadership

40th Anniversary w-out 2015

 Course Requirements:

36 semester units of required coursework, electives/independent study/practicum, and thesis.

Required Courses:

Introductory Course:

MS 501: Learning the WISR Way: Introduction to Transformative Learning for Professional and Community Leadership (3 semester units)

This is an introductory course, required of WISR Master’s students, except for those who have been previously enrolled at WISR, and except for students in the MS in Psychology program (leading to the MFT and/or LPCC license). However, MFT/LPCC students are strongly encouraged to either review the information in this course, even if they don’t do all the assignments, or to take the course for additional, elective credit. This course is carefully and thoroughly designed to enable students to progress more effectively toward the successful completion of the degree program at WISR, so that they can get the most from their WISR education:

  • in pursuing their learning passions and career interests,
  • in pursuing the core, learning goals emphasized at WISR,
  • in fulfilling the learning objectives for their WISR degree program, and
  • in building bridges for themselves to the next significant things they wish to do in their lives.

In this course, Master’s students will also engage in critical analysis of how WISR’s mission and learning methods apply to their field of major interest. Students will also become familiar with WISR’s curriculum methods and requirements, collaborative opportunities, and institutional policies and practices. In addition, students will meet with some members of the WISR learning community and find out how to take advantage of the academic resources that are available—including online library resources and databases that are free and/or paid by WISR, as well as free and low-cost online resources accessible to the student. Required course (unless previously enrolled at WISR). 3 semester units.

Required Courses that include an action-research lab:

 

MS 511: Action-Research Methods for Educators, Other Professionals and Community Leaders (5 semester units) 

This course involves an in-depth study of action-research methods, including specific techniques and the overall logic and perspectives used. It includes qualitative and community-based participatory research for expert use by educators, other professionals, change agents and community leaders. The ultimate goal of the course is to enable the student to learn how to, and also to be successfully engaged in independently designing and conducting his or her action-research projects, either on her or his own or with a lead role in collaborating with others. This course will explore a variety of ways in which research can be combined with action—for example, in reflecting on the effectiveness of one’s professional practices and community improvement efforts, including how to do program evaluations and community needs assessments, as well as the use of research in formulating new programs and policies. The course will involve a thorough and critical analysis of key ideas in the logic of research design, including the concepts of validity and reliability—examining parallels between the criteria for rigorous research in the natural sciences and action-research used in professional practice and leadership in areas related to human services, education, community improvement and social change. It includes advanced study of methods of data gathering and analysis using participant observation, interviewing, story-telling.

This should be one of the first three courses that the student studies during their degree program, because it provides a methodological foundation for studies throughout the degree program.

MS 541: The Role of Community Leadership: Contemporary Issues, Theories, and History—Specific Challenges and Larger Issues of Justice, and Multiculturalism (5 semester units)

The study of a variety of contemporary issues in community leadership. How do people assume a role of community leader, or of professional or organizational leader? This course involves the study of theories, methods and practices of community leadership in the context of the “bigger picture”—history, society, social philosophy, and the future prospects and challenges for social change. What are the main, contemporary issues and disagreements about issues of social justice and change, environmental sustainability, racism and multiculturalism? What is the role and nature of leadership in a democratic society, and what does this have to do with concepts such as equality, justice, meritocracy, elitism and excellence. What are current reform movements, and current debates and what are the competing interests and philosophies involved? The course will consider community control, Federal standards and authority, and corporate influence, among other competing interests. What is the impact of the mass media, technology and the internet on leadership and how can good leadership use these constructively? This course will include some topics drawn from the study of American history, including themes of democracy, social injustices, and multiculturalism, and the relevance of leadership to such concerns. For example, how can leaders address issues of social justice and multiculturalism? What is the value of different types of leadership, expertise, and knowledge?

 

MS 542: The Role of Leadership in Education: Contemporary Issues, Theories, and History—Specific Challenges and Larger Issues of Justice, and Multiculturalism (5 semester units)

This course involves the study of theories, methods, contemporary issues, and practices of education in the context of both everyday challenges and the “bigger picture. How do people learn? How is learning assessed and how can such assessments contribute to or impede learning? What are the main issues and disagreements about successful forms of, and approaches to, education and learning? How can educators become more attuned to individual differences, to the needs, purposes and styles of learning of each learner. What strategies and varied practices support learner-centered education? What are current reform movements, and current debates and what are the competing interests and philosophies involved? The course includes a consideration of the relevance of education to matters of democracy, social justice and multiculturalism—today, and in American history. This course includes a study of both formal education and “natural” learning processes, in relation to how education and learning promote or impede social justice and multiculturalism. What might be the role of education, liberating learning methods, and educational leadership in addressing such societal dynamics as colonialism, globalization, imperialism, racism, prejudice, sexism, population diversity and various societal conflicts–as well as on such ideals as “tolerance,” “free speech,” and the “meritocracy”?  This course draws significantly on enlightenment philosophy, progressive era ideas such as those of John Dewey, the work of Paulo Freire, feminism, and the ideologies and philosophies in action of those who have promoted inclusive and democratic visions for society. In this context, the course examines the possible roles of leadership and of education—as they have been, and as they could be, and students are encouraged to develop their own perspectives on the role of education in creating a better tomorrow.

MS 590: Review and Assessment of Knowledge in One’s Field of Specialization (5 semester units).

This course builds on the student’s previous coursework, and specialized projects done as part of that coursework. The student engages in additional, in depth study of a topic that is central to their doctoral studies and future plans to use their expert knowledge as a professional and/or community leader. Students will review and evaluate the literature in their field of specialization, and/or survey and study existing practices. These in-depth studies should include, among other methods of learning, library and online research, as well as critically reflective analysis and writing about what they’ve previously learned. In many cases, students may conduct interviews and make observations in the community and in professional practice settings. The student evaluates, organizes and synthesizes the highlights of their knowledge in their area of specialization.

 

MS 599: Master’s Thesis (7 semester units)

The Master’s thesis is an in-depth study of a topic of strong interest to the student, and one that generally helps the student build bridges for him/herself to the next important things she or he wishes to do with her/his life—as a professional, and a leader. The student makes use of what he or she has learned at WISR about action-research methods to do a serious and substantial inquiry that involves some original data collection by the student. It is an inquiry that is based on action and/or that has action implications of some significance to the student and/or others. In particular, the Master’s thesis makes a worthwhile contribution to the professional field, or to community leadership.

Elective Courses:

 (Students must take two of these courses, which do not include an action-research lab, 3 semester units, each):

 

MS 571: Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies (3 semester units)

Study of the dynamics of dignity—and its violation through individual and systemic forms of humiliation—is crucial in today’s highly interconnected world. Growing awareness of these dynamics brings to the forefront the realization that past social, political, and economic practices, once accepted and considered helpful, may now be perceived as deeply humiliating. This course will explore how today’s rapidly changing social, political, and environmental conditions require us to dramatically alter how we participate in relationships. It proposes that escalating social instability, political unrest, violent conflict, economic injustice, and climate change can be the impetus to design innovative, sustainable, and mutually dignifying solutions to these problems. In particular, this course will examine how cultivating systemic dignity—at home and around the globe—creates space for mutually beneficial arrangements of relationships to emerge, relationships that provide for the full participation, growth, and development of all people while we seek sustainable solutions to global crises.

MS 581: Critical Environmental Literacy (3 semester units)

This course will focus on current critical environmental issues (both local and global), and explore several of the themes essential for citizens today that can be integrated into community and professional leadership roles, as well as personal contexts.  Can we call ourselves an educated citizenry if we fail to address the challenges of environmental sustainability and planetary survival?Because the current model of “global economic growth” holds little regard for environmental sustainability and social justice, preparing people for the choices they face as citizens must be strongly linked to making the Earth a better place for all.   This course provides an understanding of the interdependence of people and ecosystems around the globe. We will look at how environmental issues negatively affect indigenous people and people of color disproportionately. In this course we will read and study documentary videos that present issues or dilemmas to inspire deep, and critical, reflection. These will include a variety of current and ongoing issues, not always covered by mainstream media. The course will ask students to reflect on and analyze the contributions to environmental sustainability that might be made by those with roles in education and community leadership.

 

MS 591: Student-Designed, Faculty-Approved Independent Study (3 semester units)

Subject to the approval of a WISR faculty member, and using the guidelines for academic engagement per credit hour adopted for other WISR courses, the student may design a course that fits into one of the following categories:

  1. a) the student may adapt, with faculty assistance and approval, one personalized WISR MS course—that draws on the content and methods of a WISR MS in Psychology (MFT) program course or an EdD program course, modified to have objectives and assignments appropriate for students in this MS program in Education and Community Leadership;
  2. b) may design with other students and/or faculty, and/or community colleagues, a course, on a topic relevant to this degree program, but not currently offered, subject to faculty approval, or
  3. c) design an internship or independent study project that address MS program degree requirements, and that is outside the realm of other WISR courses in this program.

 

 Awarding Academic Credit to Students in WISR’s MS in Education and Community Leadership

Credit is awarded based on the Master’s student having demonstrated substantial level of learning and accomplishment, in a course, thesis or independent study project or practicum, in two broad realms—1) The quantity and quality of the student’s engagement in learning at WISR, and 2) the learning outcomes and competencies demonstrated by the student, based on faculty assessment of student learning–through mentoring discussions and an oral exam, collaboration with other students, papers and projects completed, and self-assessments written by the student pertaining to the evidence of their learning process and outcomes. Further, in assessing student work, WISR faculty use the above stated programmatic learning goals, objectives, and outcomes, as well as the objectives for each particular course, to evaluate student progress and performance in each course.

 In addition, during their studies toward this degree, students will participate in two oral exams to assess their programs in meeting degree program objectives and expectations--the first one is held with two or more WISR faculty members after the mid-point of their studies and prior to beginning their Master’s thesis.  The second is held by the student’s Graduation Review Board, when they have completed their thesis and submitted it for review.

WISR’s expectations for the quantity and quality of student engagement in learning at WISR approximate that of the traditional “Carnegie unit” which grants one semester unit for each 45 hours of participation in learning.

In addition to this substantial, high quality engagement in learning at WISR—similar to the well-known Oxford model of education—WISR faculty only award credit if the Master’s student’s work indicates learning and competency accomplishments comparable to what students would typically receive for that number of semester units (typically 5 semester units, at WISR) in an accredited program performing at a grade of “B” or higher. Students whose work is below a B will receive full credit for the course once they have made the improvements and completed all the assignments required by faculty–to achieve this level of performance. 

In assessing student work, WISR faculty use the above stated programmatic learning outcomes, as well as the outcomes for each particular course, to evaluate student progress as demonstrated by evidence from mentoring discussions, small group seminars, papers and projects completed, and self-assessments written by the student pertaining to the evidence of their learning process and outcomes.

Rubrics to be used by WISR faculty

–in evaluating student learning and submitted work

These rubrics are guidelines, and some faculty may emphasize some areas more than others, depending on the course and the particular assignment they are evaluating. Also, it is expected that faculty will discuss these guidelines, over time, informally, and in faculty meetings. To compare notes on the usefulness, relative importance, and meaning of different areas, and that they will likely be re-interpreted and even modified, as indicated. as well as each written assignment submitted by students (e.g., module assignments, course term paper, student self-assessments).  Access the Rubrics in three file formats:

Rubrics docx                          Rubrics odt                Rubrics pdf

At the end of each course, the faculty member articulates on an “Evaluation of Student Performance” form, their evaluation of student performance in each of main learning assignments. They only submit a final version of the form to WISR’s administration when they have determined that the student has met the requirements and objectives of the course, and of each particular assignment for the course. In comments on a number of areas of student performance, the faculty member also provides the student with feedback on: noteworthy qualities evidenced in fulfilling the assignment, areas for needed improvements in future coursework, important strengths evidenced, and/or other suggestions. The faculty member notes which of the degree program objectives that the student has addressed during that particular course, and makes other comments that might be helpful to the student in their future learning.

 

MS Program Graduation Review Boards

The recommendation of a MS student’s readiness to begin the culminating Master’s thesis is made by the primary faculty adviser, usually only after at least three-fourths of the other requirements have been completed. At that time, the student writes a thesis proposal, which outlines (1) the major issues and questions to be addressed, (2) the significance of those issues to the student and to others, and (3) the sources of information, the methods of inquiry, and (if appropriate) the modes of action to be used.

The student then constitutes, with her or his major faculty adviser’s help, a Graduation Review Board composed of at least two WISR faculty members, two WISR students or former students, and (since December 2018) one or more outside experts in the student’s field. The Review Board members comment on, critique, and approve the student’s proposal. The proposal then serves as a general guide for the student’s thesis inquiry. However, it is subject to change, and the student is expected to discuss his or her thesis progress with each Review Board member throughout the work on the thesis. Review Board members comment on and critique at least one rough draft, but usually two drafts. The student’s major faculty adviser helps to facilitate and mediate disagreements if Review Board members make inconsistent suggestions for change.

Faculty serving on a Graduation Review Board shall have been active in their field of scholarship or profession during the five year period preceding their participation on the Review Board.

Once the faculty adviser and the student are confident that all Review Board members are ready to approve the thesis, a final Graduation Board meeting is held. At that time, Review Board validates that the student is responsible for their work on thesis, and the student discusses and answers questions about the thesis and their learning in working on it, and throughout the entire degree program. The student is questioned about their future plans, and how the experience at WISR will contribute to the student’s future work. The Review Board may also examine the student’s academic accomplishments throughout the program, and discuss them with the student. Finally, each graduating student is required to submit a written self-evaluation, which includes a critical reflection on what she or he has learned in the program, and a discussion of insights gained, challenges and obstacles encountered, and WISR’s strengths and weaknesses in contributing to the student’s learning.

More Information on:

Grading and Awarding Academic Credit and Academic Policies and Procedures

Expectations for Collaboration at WISR

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