HPE at Home: The PETE/HETE Final Exam Solution

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As university PETE/HETE instructors and professors continue to deliver distance learning due to COVID-19, many may be revising and creating new plans for their curriculum.

It’s important that we maintain key components that are crucial to our candidates’ success in the program, licensure tests, edTPA, and their future teaching career; however, as we embrace HPE at home, we may need to get creative in how we assess our undergraduates — especially when it comes to the final exam.

In the PETE program at the University of Minnesota Duluth, our teacher candidates participate in a “Dream Job Mock Interview” as their final exam for Secondary Methods, prior to student teaching. The final exam consists of four parts:

  1. Complete Dream Job assignment (similar to filling out a job application)
  2. Create/refine a resume
  3. Draft a cover letter
  4. Dress up and complete the interview

Dream Job Assignment

The dream job assignment requires teacher candidates to research a current job opening in their area of interest — or create a hypothetical one which would be the perfect fit, location, grade-levels, etc.

Next, they write the job description for their dream job and drafts responses to approximately 30 sample interview questions. The candidates will probably not be asked all 30 questions, but they should prepare for all of them. The questions are asked in a sequence that allows for the conversation to flow with the interviewer (instructor/professor).

A poster that reads "Aim High, Fly Higher"

Resume and Cover Letter

Once the dream job assignment is complete, candidates either create or refine their resumes to align with their current situation and job they are applying for. They also write a cover letter to introduce themselves and personalize the letter to meet the dream job requirements.

For many undergraduates, this will be the first time writing a cover letter so it’s important to give them some examples, as well as resources for resume building. On our campus, aside from online support, our Career Services and Writer’s Workshop are a great option to assist students in this process.

Mock Interview

For the last step, candidates sign up for a 45-minute time slot to interview — that’s right, 45 minutes. When giving this assignment, students often ask, “So, how long will the actual interview take — 10-15 minutes?”

Not only does the amount of time make their nerves tingle, but they tend to be very nervous about the fact that they must dress up and be prepared to answer a variety of professional questions, even though they are talking to their university instructor/professor (who they probably have a comfortable relationship with).

This is a good thing. Nervousness demonstrates an element of seriousness, creates positive pressure, and allows them to demonstrate that they care deeply about landing an awesome #PhysEd and/or #HealthEd job of their dreams!

A person in a suit reading a document

Positive Outcomes

Here are some of the pleasant outcomes of conducting dream job interviews:  

  • The 45 minutes goes by very quickly. Deep, meaningful discussion about the ins and outs of our profession is so engaging that the minutes seem to fly by.
  • The interview process demonstrates that candidates really do know their stuff! While sometimes it may be difficult to gauge content knowledge, professional dispositions, enthusiasm for teaching, etc., PETE/HETE candidates are able to effectively exhibit how much they know and how committed they are to the profession throughout this experience.
  • Candidates are so grateful for this experience!
Quote from a PETE/HETE student Screenshot

HPE at Home Solution

As I revise my plans for my courses, this capstone experience is so powerful that I plan to implement it earlier on in the program during my Health Methods course. This way, students will be able to start gathering resume/cover letter materials prior to being accepted to the teacher education program and gain experience with interviewing.

And, most importantly, I will be able to assess my students in an alternate way. Instead of worrying about cheating, using open books, etc., I can have a meaningful conversation with my future professionals.

Through a 45-minute Google Hangouts Meet virtual interview, students can demonstrate their content knowledge, explain their “why” for teaching, show curricular plans aligned to standards, demonstrate their commitment to the profession, and so much more. And yes, we will dress to impress!

While you revamp and adapt to our current remote learning situation, I encourage you to entertain the idea of a “dream job virtual interview” as a valuable final exam option; your future professionals are bound to impress you.

Additional Resources

Credit for the original Dream Job Interview goes to Dr. Jane A.K. Carlson, Department Head and Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth.


Lisa Paulson
Lisa Paulson

Lisa Paulson (Rahkola) is an instructor in the Physical Education Teacher Education Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Prior to working in higher education, she taught elementary physical education in Hutchinson, MN. Lisa serves on the MNSHAPE Board of Directors. Contact her on Twitter @pauls640 or via email at pauls640@d.umn.edu.