The Master of Education was introduced at the University of Rio Grande in 1991 and was designed to offer a series of core courses that would be the foundation for a series of three Concentration options that included Reading, Math and Learning Disabilities that were designed to provide a teaching credential for each of those option areas. The idea was that a teacher could complete a master’s degree while adding a teaching certificate in a second area for employment purposes and strengthen the regional pool of qualified teachers in those areas.
In 1993 there was a fourth concentration option added to the M.Ed. degree program, the Concentration in Fine Arts. This concentration was based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences as a practical learning theory that used the fine arts as an engaging approach to learning that employed the various intelligences, and addressed the need for differentiated instruction, to encourage deep learning among all learners, particularly reluctant learners. This program did not provide any certification or licensure to qualify someone to teach. This program was patterned after Lincoln Center Institute summer programs, Harvard Project Zero programs, and the Creative Pulse program at the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana.
The Concentration in Fine Arts was never intended to offer a teaching certificate, and was open to museum educators, civic and community center educators, artists who work in the schools and teachers who were interested in the Theory of Multiple Intelligences as it might be applied to a classroom. Many of the summer adjunct faculty members were prominent artists, musicians, writers, dancers, athletes who were professionals that were not educators in the traditional sense. The primary audience for this unusual program quickly proved to be classroom teachers who already possessed teaching credentials but were attracted to the ideas and project based learning activities that were interdisciplinary in nature and encouraged collaborative teaching and learning throughout the school and community. The program grew rapidly and attracted teachers from hundreds of miles away. As the program evolved it received considerable attention, and generated genuine customer satisfaction.
There was soon discovered a need for similar concentrations in Athletic Coaching Leadership, Educational Technologies, and Humanities to be built as complements to the core curriculum based on the Theory of Multiple Intelligences. None of these concentrations offered credentials to work as public school teachers, but there were many artists and coaches and technology enthusiasts who were attracted to the program. The Athletic Coaching Leadership remains open and is currently accepting students.
In 1997 the decision was made to convert some of the core courses to be delivered by internet so that teachers might remain involved in the learning process throughout the school year. This decision proved to be a practical and effective way for maintaining year round involvement with those who chose to accelerate their learning and immediately apply what was being learned to students immediately available to them.
As the interest in the program grew, there were individuals from among community college faculty ranks that enrolled in the program, particularly the technology concentration. Soon there were universities in China that expressed interest in the MI Theory and the methodologies that might be adapted to the Chinese education systems for more effective learning and teaching. The program was invited to offer the courses in China through a partnership with Baoji University of Arts and Sciences, and soon twenty-six faculty members were enrolled, prompting our faculty to travel to China for short-cycle visits to initiate classes that were completed through the internet. The program, with its concentrations that are interdisciplinary in nature and practical in methodologies, were successful.
In 2007 the M.Ed. program divided into two distinct entities; programs that offer licenses and programs that do not offer licenses. The Intervention Specialist Concentrations evolved to feature revised core courses more focused on content specific to the license generating objectives of the Intervention Specialist concentrations. The M.Ed. concentrations that do not lead to a specialized teaching license were then revised to focus more on the more contemporary research based themes of imagination, collaboration, creativity, innovation, and change. These concentrations strive to be as current as possible by employing research, technology and innovations.
This program requires a total of 33 Credit Hours. There are seventeen semester hours of core classes based on the theory of Multiple Intelligences and sixteen semester hours of concentration classes that promote project based learning and authentic formative assessments.
The program focuses on two objectives for professional improvement: