After three decades of working as an engineer, Rob Hope decided to return to the University of Houston to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and teaching. He wants to teach math in high school when he retires. Hope said she found the perfect program for graduates at UH Education College – flexible, relevant and high quality.
“It may sound trite, but the teachers really care about the students,” said Hope, who started the online program while living in Houston and now takes classes in Washington, D.C., where he works as a project manager at Shell. “I like flexibility, but at the same time I still have the recognition of the name of the brick institution.”
The online master’s programs at the UH College of Education are consistently among the best in the country. According to results released Tuesday, this year the college ranked 14th on the list of the best online alumni programs on the US News & World Report list.
“At the University of Houston, we prioritize innovative instruction to enhance student learning, whether online or in person,” said Paul Mirik Short, senior vice president of academics and vice president of UH.
Strong UH scores in the rankings reflect high output (95%); low class size (average 17 students); highly qualified faculty; use of a variety of technologies; and useful support services, including academic counseling and career assistance.
The ranking covers the online M.Ed. programs in curricula and training, higher education and special populations. The curriculum and study program offers online specialization in early childhood; mathematics; reading and language arts; training, design and technology; bilingual / ESL; and health science education. The Special Population program includes an online specialization in special education and the gifted and talented.
UH also ranked first in the US News 2022 online education program, ranking 14th in the curriculum and training and 13th in education administration and oversight.
“Our faculty continue to improve their online teaching practices to keep students interested and well-prepared to become leaders in their field,” said Bob McPherson, dean of the College of Education.
Hope, who specializes in math education, said the assignments helped him improve his research, technology and writing skills, giving him an invaluable understanding of how to be an effective teacher. He said the course on working with multilingual students was particularly useful and he continued to use the online app introduced in the classroom to study Spanish.
“The workload is not too great, but it is relevant,” he said, adding that he liked the task of associate professor Melissa Gallagher’s course on teaching proportions. “When you leave this class, you sweat a little, but you definitely come out of there with good information.”
Gallagher said she makes every effort to promote in-depth discussions in an online environment, typically breaking students into small groups using session rooms. Students can work together or individually on math problems using online workspaces, and professors can come in and give real-time feedback. Including activities to build relationships is also important, Gallagher said when students enter the system from across the country.
“If there’s no trust, then students just turn off the video and go into hiding,” she said. “One thing I think is very important in any alumni program is to encourage students to think more deeply and reflect on what they are learning. I’m trying to help them become leaders. “
Elizabeth Rodriguez, who graduated in December with a degree in bilingual / English as a second language, said the online format worked well with her busy schedule. She began her studies as a bilingual class teacher at YES Prep Charter School and now works there as a literacy specialist. Her online M.Ed. classes usually met one evening every other week, and she had assignments in between.
Although she grew up bilingual, speaking English and Spanish, Rodriguez said she was partially studying for a master’s degree to study ESL strategies, she realized she and fellow educators needed to better support students.
“I think the online program works very well with a busy schedule of teachers,” she said. “We had mothers with newborns, there were teachers, there were administrators. It allowed us to get a higher education. “
She said she appreciated that her teachers divided the students into small groups, and noted that the online chat feature allows classmates to mark each other or ask questions easily.
“Our teachers, instead of just lecturing us for three hours, they included rooms for teamwork, and then we present. They still made it really attractive, ”she said.
Larenda Watts, a math teacher at the San Augustine ISD, about three hours north of Houston, said she is juggling an online master’s degree. The program between training, cheerleading sponsorship and church volunteering is worth it.
“I’ve built relationships with professors, and I’ve never seen any of them in person. The professors are very flexible, ”Watts said. “In each class there was something I could instantly bring to my class.”