University of Wisconsin - Stout

Purpose of the Review

The review was conducted to assess the quality of the B.S. in Early Childhood Education degree program as part of the ongoing seven-year review cycle of every UW-Stout program.

B.S. in Early Childhood Education
Program Director
Dr. Judy Herr
PRC Consultants
Dick Tyson and Ann Cross
Committee Findings
The committee recommends continuation of this program through the next scheduled review in 2010.  The committee recommends that the student survey be conducted again in Fall 2005 with a subsequent status report by the program director addressing the student concerns noted in this report.


UW-Stout's B.S. in Early Childhood Education program trains students to become professionals who understand and meet the needs of children from birth to eight years. It has four foundational elements: Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Pedagogy, Appropriate Disposition, and Theory and Research. The program trains students to work with families of young children in a variety of settings including Preschool childcare, Kindergarten and primary Grades 1 through 3.  The program emphasizes both liberal studies and preparation for a professional career. Courses and practicum experiences introduce students to an array of topics. Students have the opportunity to work with children early in the program; this interaction continues culminating in student teaching.

The newly revised degree program includes 45-46 credits of general education requirements, 79 credits of ECE professional course work, and student teaching in Pre-school, Kindergarten, and Primary education to gain broad certification.

The B.S. in ECE is now the third largest program at UW-Stout, with an enrollment of about 500 undergraduates or over 7% of Stout’s undergraduate enrollment.  These enrollments have fluctuated around 475-522 between in 1998 and 2002. It continues to be a popular program as can be seen by its enrollment and demand for admissions. Openings for positions and placement rates are high, with employment and employment related to major being at or exceeding the Stout average. Earnings of graduates are among the lowest, however, at about $26000/yr.

Recommendations for improvement include: consideration of curriculum for course overlap, consideration of additional K-3 classroom and laboratory experiences, monitoring student satisfaction with the new curriculum, staffing and facilities (CFSC) improvements.

It is recommended that the B.S. in Early Childhood Education continue as a degree program at UW-Stout and that recommendations made by the committee be implemented to further strengthen the program.

Process Followed for the Current Review

Under guidelines developed by the PRC, information regarding the program was gathered from the Placement Office, Institutional Research Office, the program director, key instructors, Program Advisory Committee, students, and one-year and three-year graduates.  Fifty-seven students, mostly juniors and seniors, participated in the survey of current students conducted on-line.  Twelve key instructors and ten Program Advisory Committee members responded, while 35 of 102 graduates in 2000 and 29 of 72 graduates in 1998 responded (34% and 40% of those polled).  Observations were made by the consultants based on these surveys and institutional data and were reported to and discussed by the PRC. The program director presented a summary of her report to the committee and had an opportunity to address concerns.  The dean from the School of Education was also available to answer questions. 

Previous Review

The last PRC review of this program occurred in the 1995-96 academic year, with Dick Tyson and Karen Martinson serving as consultants.  That review resulted in the following recommendations. In her 2003 report, the program director has responded to these recommendations. Her responses are summarized in italics below.

  1. “A great number of 1- and 2-credit courses are required; some consolidation or generalization may be considered.” 

    In her 2003 report, the program director indicated that four one-credit courses have been deleted, with content subsumed elsewhere as necessary. 

  2. “Laboratory space for curriculum development needs attention.”

    Two rooms for curriculum were remodeled, though there continues to be a serious need for remodeling/replacing the Child and Family Studies Center, a problem noted even in the 1989 PRC review.

  3. “The program doesn't appear to directly acquaint students with computers/technology which might be related to ECE.  While computers/technology literacy among K-12 teachers is generally low nationwide, perhaps some effort to integrate this knowledge into the curriculum may provide one type of "edge" for graduates in a very competitive job market.”

    Efforts have been made to incorporate computers into curriculum classes in a developmentally appropriate way.

  4. “The significant increases in program enrollments have not been accompanied by increases in program staffing. Some difficulties will be manifest if staffing isn't increased if enrollments are to continue at the current level.”

    Staffing concerns continue to exist, particularly as the program has grown to about 500 students. Five staff are needed. 

  5. “Students' perceived preparedness for teaching the early primary grades is a concern.  The program director indicates that the program exceeds DPI education requirements and that a reconfiguration of education courses may emphasize K-3 teaching competencies. Knowledge of the substance of teaching rather than the process may be the concern, however.  Two courses of action should follow: students ought to be surveyed again or otherwise monitored regarding the success of the new configuration, and an effort to discern confidence in subject-matter competencies should be undertaken.  If students are concerned with inadequate K-3 classroom experience, more opportunities for classroom observation and lessoned preparation before student teaching need to be explored.”

    The primary grades curriculum has been recently improved significantly, as evidenced by the gains made which are noted in the Assessment in Major report.  Students need to understand more fully the range of Early Childhood Education licensed in Wisconsin. 

  6. “Allowance for minors or specializations should be investigated, especially in foreign languages such as Spanish, which would allow ECE graduates more flexibility in the job market.”

    The program was not able to consider the recommendation regarding minors due to the already large number of required classes for certification.

  7. “Significant course overlap is noted.  Under the new administrative arrangement, opportunities should exist for better cooperation in order to determine educational objectives in the program and coordinate delivery, freeing coursework time for computing, languages, laboratory time, or other subject competencies as needed.”

    Reduced duplication should occur following the new curriculum and the program’s placement in the new School of Education. Additionally, new and part-time faculty will be mentored and supervised better.

  8. “The program director should continue her commendable efforts for the training of advisees and for development of a program instrument to guide students through all of the requirements for the degree with certification so as to allow students to be well informed as they go through their career.  Efforts to make her office more approachable for students should be considered.”

    The prospect for further improvements in advising will be difficult due to the high demands and no release time.

    In her 2003 report, the program director is positive about the new administrative structure and support for the program as well as the new curriculum which will improve it significantly.

Program Review

Program Strengths

Opportunities for Further Program Enrichment


For the Program Director:

For the Department Chair(s):

  1. The quality of instructional staff is irregular as noted by students’ responses.  Some problems involve very negative interactions that students have had with individual faculty and instructional academic staff.  Other problems involve the instability of the staffing as well as the overuse of part-time staffing which also needs to be addressed. Students perceive inconsistency in many courses from section to section and semester to semester, causing them to question whether they are learning the “right stuff.”  Working with the dean and program director, efforts must be made to stabilize the staffing with more full-time and (hopefully) faculty positions.  If part-time and staff positions must be used, a plan to ensure consistent, quality instruction needs to be developed.

For the Dean: