School of Education - Accreditation Self-Study Report

Conceptual Framework

The education unit’s conceptual framework was initially developed in the early 1990’s. The “Educator as Transformative Professional” framework described our shared vision and reflected the state, national and local educational philosophies and priorities at the time (Exhibits I.5.c.1; I.5.c.2; I.5.c.3). That framework served us well as a holistic and integrated description of teacher candidate role performance expectations and the processes involved in the development of these professional outcomes.

In recent years, the state of Minnesota updated requirements for education preparation programs to include a focus on literacy and technology standards. These changes, as well as the national development of new InTASC standards, 21st Century Skills and an emphasis on student outcomes in P-12 have created new demands on our teacher preparation program that propelled us to revisit our conceptual framework. A small working group (including education faculty and staff, content faculty and P-12 partners) was tasked with performing a critical review of the framework, and bringing the resulting recommendations back to the Teacher Education Advisory Council. During the 2012-13 academic year, TEAC met regularly and included the conceptual framework as an official agenda item at six meetings.

After the comprehensive review, it was determined that while the original framework was still relevant, it needed to be updated to include newer ideas and values. Strengths of the original model included: a clear focus on role performances as an important outcome for teacher candidates, a comprehensive view of the preparation process, reflection on important unit values in the roles that teachers would be expected to play, a careful depiction of learning as a process, including liberal education as a foundation for teacher preparation. On the other hand, weaknesses noted included: it was complex and hard to understand, there was no connection to P-12 schools and students, the language was outdated, changes made to the institutional mission and vision were absent, as were newer concepts in teacher preparation that had evolved over the past decade. This analysis and ensuing discussions led TEAC to identify a new set of ideas and priorities that would guide the development of the revised conceptual framework for teacher education at SCSU. Recommendations that emerged from TEAC included:

  1. Use clear and updated language so that it would be easy to understand and easy for students and faculty to explain.
  2. Reflect the changes at the university level and re-align our model with the current SCSU and School of Education mission and vision.
  3. Illustrate the important connections and collaborative partnerships that we have been building with our Teacher Preparation Initiative.
  4. Make clear connections to P-12 student outcomes that reflect an emphasis on 21st Century skills.
  5. Align framework with the new InTASC standards that emphasize ongoing professional growth and development.
  6. Depict faculty and teacher candidates as co-learners in relation to teacher outcomes, preparing students to work with our co-teaching model as they move into their student teaching assignments.

Incorporating the recommendations above, the unit elected to adopt a modified framework, “Educating for a New Era” (Exhibit I.5.c.4). This new framework draws from a variety of sources in creating a clear image of our vision, values and educational philosophy. The model articulates our institutional vision and unit commitments to: Access and Opportunity, Active and Applied Learning, Community Engagement, Accountability that Improves Teaching, Global and Cultural Understanding and Excellence in Teaching and Learning. This clearly reflects the vision and mission of our institution and the new emphasis our unit has placed on meaningful accountability and collaborations with P-12 schools. It also draws on and is aligned with the new InTASC standards (Exhibit I.5.c.7).

Our revised conceptual framework also identifies essential elements of effective teaching and incorporates the multiple role performances of teachers in three critical domains. Teaching: as evidenced in our commitment to developing Knowledgeable and Skilled Educators, Reflective Practitioners and Innovative Users of Technology. Leading: as evidenced in our commitment to developing Creative and Flexible Problem Solvers and Collaborative Leaders. And Serving: as evidenced in our commitment to developing educators who are Caring and Ethical Professionals and Advocates for Equity and Justice in Education. These commitments reflect the foundational roles from our original framework along with the roles of 21st Century educators. Faculty are seen as co-learners with teacher candidates, with the responsibility to model effective teaching, open-mindedness, curiosity and excitement about ongoing learning.

Lastly, our conceptual framework makes the direct connection to P-12 learners and delineates the competencies our candidates will facilitate, as their students develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the 21st Century. We want our graduates to be effective educators, who guide learners to: Display Inquiry and Enthusiasm for Learning, Thrive on Diversity, Construct Knowledge and Originate Ideas, Demonstrate Understanding through Authentic Assessment, Meet Well-Defined Standards, Cooperate and Collaborate with Others in Multiple Contexts and Demonstrate Technology Literacy.
By including all three levels of commitment and performance expectations (from the institution/unit, the developing candidate and the P-12 learner) in our conceptual framework, we clearly reflect the new emphasis in the teacher education unit on collaboration with P-12 schools and accountability that matters (Exhibit I.5.c.5; I.5.c.6).