Drexel's online BS in Education: Non-Certification Track lets students use their education background outside of the classroom
Why get an education degree if you don’t want to be a teacher? Even if you don’t plan on stepping foot in the classroom, a background in education can be foundational for many different career tracks. Drexel’s online BS in Education – Non-Certification Track shows you how to apply theories of teaching and learning to other fields, like youth advocacy, instructional design and nonprofit work. We talked to Valerie Klein, PhD, an assistant clinical professor and the program director for teacher education programs at Drexel’s School of Education, to learn more about this degree.
What’s the purpose of earning a bachelor’s degree in education if you don’t plan on teaching?
There are lots of fields where understanding how teaching and learning works can be helpful. Folks working in education policy and advocacy, who can better understand and imagine the potential for intended and unintended impacts of policy in actual schools, can use knowledge learned in this program to inform their work. For those who are interested in educational technology and want to design apps that could be used in schools, having some information on how schools work and the work of actual teachers can be really helpful in designing apps that are likely to be used by teachers. Another example would be folks who might want to run out-of-school-time programs, like after school programs, summer camps, enrichment programs, coaching or work at a museum or a non-school setting where education takes places. Those are just a couple examples.
Who should enroll in this program?
Students who know that they might want to work in education and might want to share their passion and interests, but are not interested in being in the formal classroom setting. Those who know they want to support learning in some way, like advocacy, coaching, technology or any work with children or individuals in the non-school setting.
What fields can you work in with this degree?
This degree prepares graduates for several fields. Education policy, technology for education, museum education, coaching – those are a few examples. Those who do not go on to teach have become education researchers in STEM areas, trainers at various companies and all have expressed how learning about teaching helped them communicate their ideas and teach others.
Walk me through the curriculum. What types of skills do you focus on? What can students expect to learn?
This program starts out with some general information about schools and the history of schooling in the United States and internationally. Students compare the purpose and structures of schooling locally and globally. Our students study the learning sciences – what we know about when and how learning happens in any context, not just in schools. They learn about educational psychology, and development from early childhood to high school, and beyond. All of our students have classes that include work in the field where they observe a classroom. For our non-cert students, some of this work could be in non-school settings. The non-certification major offers a number of electives that allow students to explore what the School of Education has to offer across all of our curricula and programs and focus in on their particular interest. Our core courses include the foundations named above (similar to what an education certification student takes), as well as a set of distribution requirements in the STEM content areas. This degree is a BS, so having the strong STEM background is important. For the non-certification majors there’s the freedom and space in their plans of study to customize their course work and easily add a minor. We have minors in the School of Education in learning technology and sport coaching leadership, and adding minors outside of education would be very manageable.
What’s the background of the faculty teaching in this program?
Our faculty have a wide range of expertise. We have faculty who have been teachers, who have worked in policy, who focus on early childhood education, who were education leaders, who focus on community-based work in teaching, learning and advocacy, who examine the identity of students and students of color in various educational spaces. We have STEM education expertise, maker spaces expertise, international education experts, faculty with expertise in human development, with extensive knowledge of special education, faculty who have expertise in autism and applied behavioral analysis, and much more. Clearly, we have a wide range of faculty that engage in extensive research and fieldwork, so there is also a lot of potential for working directly with a faculty member on education research in many areas.
Why does Drexel put an emphasis on social justice in this program?
In large part, because education, and access to high quality education, is a social justice issue. Education, in many contexts, is a form of civic engagement. Being able to support learning and advocacy and valuing various viewpoints is one of many important elements in social justice work and civic engagement.
What we know about today’s students is that they tend to be more interested in giving back to a community and are interested in work that involves helping others; we want to channel that energy into education and into social justice. Education is really a strong fit for that interest area and being an educator doesn’t mean just teaching in a classroom. We wanted to make sure that our programming reflected that and created more options and opportunities for Drexel students. Knowing how to teach and how to support learners and how to share important ideas with others doesn’t stop in classrooms. Therefore, we believe this degree is perfect for community-based activists and folks who are educating people about causes, folks in policy advocacy, as that work is often informed by teaching strategies.
Why did the School of Education decide to offer this degree?
We found that students who were interested in education didn’t always have a pathway to pursue that interest if they didn’t want to be a teacher. And we’ve seen that while many of our graduates are teachers, we also have alumni that go on to use their education degree in other areas, but cite their work in education as making them a strong candidate for their job. We felt that there was a need for this major and we are excited to see all additional directions our terrific Drexel students take it.
To learn more about the online BS in Education: Non-Certification Track, click here.