WMU News

WMU researcher wins prestigious fellowship

July 2, 1998

KALAMAZOO -- Dr. Jianping Shen, Western Michigan University assistant professor of educational leadership, has been selected as a National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow for 1998-99.

Shen is among 28 scholars chosen for the national honor from nearly 200 applications. Administered by the National Academy of Education/Spencer Post Doctoral Fellowship, the award was created to encourage outstanding young scholars working on research viewed as critical to education.

Shen will receive a $45,000 grant to research alternative teacher certification policies. He will gauge whether such policies have improved the teaching force in the public schools and compare alternatively certified teachers against those who are traditionally certified.

"Forty-one states now have alternative routes for teacher certification," Shen says. "However, the debate continues regarding alternative over traditional university-based teacher education. The purpose of this study is to inquire into whether alternative certification policy is successful in recruiting and retaining quality teachers."

Shen says proponents of alternative teacher certification argue that it can improve the teaching by reducing teacher shortages, raising teacher quality and diversifying the teaching force, while opponents maintain that alternative certification policy degrades the professional status of teaching and ultimately hinders student learning. A key element of Shen's research will focus on the analysis of national statistical data that surveyed more than 55,000 teachers. The data is the most comprehensive available.

Shen's $45,000 grant will provide release time from teaching and fund research costs. He will divide the fellowship over two consecutive years, working half-time on fellowship research while continuing to teach. The fellowship officially begins Sept. 1, 1998.

A WMU faculty member since 1996, Shen earned his bachelor's degree from the Shanghai Institute of Education in 1985, his master's degree in education from East China Normal in Shanghai in 1990 and his doctoral degree in educational leadership and policy from the University of Washington at Seattle in 1995.

Media contact: Julie Paavola, 616 387-8400, julie.paavola@wmichedu

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