CWU News

Research Grant Allows CWU Students to See Accomplished Teachers Nationwide

Central Washington University elementary education students, studying at university campus location in Des Moines and Pierce County, are now learning from accomplished teachers from throughout the country.

Through a program known as the Investing in Innovation Fund (i3), the CWU College of Education and Professional Studies is assessing the effectiveness of incorporating video case studies, from National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT), in university coursework.

CWU was one of just six universities nationwide invited to participate in a US Department of Education $3.5 million, five-year grant. The selection, by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, was based on CWU’s demonstrated record as a premier teacher-preparation institution.

“To be working on an i3 grant—a very prestigious grant in the education field—is exciting and fertile ground for research,” said Eric Hougan, who directs CWU’s participation.

The i3 grant, “Building a Pipeline of Teaching Excellence,” seeks to improve the professional development of beginning teachers and preparation of pre-service teachers.

CWU’s role is to implement and pilot high-potential teacher-training practices, strategies, and programs for pre-service teachers. As part of that effort, CWU teacher candidates are using Accomplished Teaching, Learning and Schools (ATLAS)—an online platform that contains videos and NBCT commentaries.

“Our teacher candidates can view National Board Certified teachers’ videos and read their accompanied commentaries around planning, instruction, and assessment,” Hougan said. “This interaction with the National Board cases, along with the facilitation of their professors, allows our teacher candidates to get inside the head of accomplished teachers.”

These NBCT video cases serve as virtual field trips to otherwise inaccessible teaching and learning contexts. National Board certification is considered to be the most respected professional recognition available in education. It is designed to acknowledge, develop, and retain accomplished teachers, while assisting in school improvement nationwide.

“Commitment to students and reflective practices are at the core of the National Board and demonstrated in this ATLAS effort,” Hougan added. “ATLAS allows CWU teacher candidates to glean best practices from accomplished classroom teachers and reflect on how these practices may be incorporated into their own pedagogy. In turn, our teacher candidates, having a stronger vision of accomplished teaching, may be better prepared to serve their students.”

Media contact: Robert Lowery, director of Radio Services and Integrated Communications, 509-963-1487,

December 18, 2015