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Conceptual Framework

Unit vision and mission.  The College of Education and Human Development (COEHD) faculty and its partners reflected on the Mission and Vision Statements of the institution to establish a model framework to prepare candidates who will set the standard for excellence through best practices.  Mission: The COEHD exists to serve the regional, state, national, and global communities by developing effective professionals through implementing innovative and progressive programs.  Vision: The faculty of the COEHD prepares candidates to become effective professionals who set the standard for excellence through best practices (Exhibit CF 1). 

Unit philosophy, purposes, goals, and institutional standards.  Through a thorough process of self-reflection and analysis, we hold our programs up to state and national standards, the scholarly literature, and the realities of our changing world.  Our purpose, to prepare effective professionals who will positively impact the lives of students, families, and communities, is reflected in our curriculum, our instruction, our field experiences, and our assessment of candidates.  The Conceptual Framework (CF) provides the structure that is necessary to accomplish this goal.  Our model is built upon four structural elements or components that, when taken together, are necessary for candidates to become effective professionals.  As our institutional standards, the CF components include knowledge of learner, strategies and methods, content knowledge, and professional standards.  Diversity and technology are included in the structural design as themes that are integrated throughout all programs in the unit.  The CF is based on current research about effective teaching and learning for both novice and accomplished teachers and for educational leaders.  It is a living document that continuously evolves as opportunities and challenges emerge to more clearly articulate institutional standards.  The CF Comprehensive Report provides a detailed explanation, and Exhibit CF 2 is a glossary of terms.  School Counseling and Speech-language Pathology programs embrace a CF recognized within their own respective accrediting agencies recognized by NCATE. 

Knowledge of Learner (KL): Candidatesí understanding of the learner which is necessary to provide effective and equitable instruction. The educational unit prepares candidates to demonstrate and value sensitivity to the needs of all learners. Candidates acquire an understanding of learners as individuals and incorporate this knowledge as they progress through their educational experiences at Southeastern.  As effective professionals, they continue that practice throughout their careers.  We believe that KL strongly impacts student learning.  In the Department of Teaching and Learning (T&L), the Effective Educator understands the learner, learning, and the complexity and diversity of the two.  A variety of methods and activities are designed to teach candidates about individual student diversity and fairness.  Candidate knowledge is assessed in multiple ways that are aligned with institutional, professional, state, and national standards.  As Effective School Leaders, advanced candidates in the Department of Educational Leadership and Technology (ELT) acquire an understanding of learners as individuals and incorporate this knowledge in educational experiences and in practice.  Candidates capitalize on diversity to create a school culture that promotes respect and success for all students. 

Strategies and Methods (SM): Strategies and methods appropriate to each program within the educational unit which are necessary to develop effective professionals. The effective professional demonstrates best practices through inquiry, creativity, and reflective thinking. Constructive and reflective problem-solving processes require the effective professional to consider and integrate complex information.  Because of the complexity of learning, the diverse needs of learners, and the differing social contexts of schools, we believe Effective Educators must have a large repertoire of materials, modes of interacting, and ways of organizing classrooms.  In diverse settings, they continue to develop professional competence in working collaboratively with mentor teachers, colleagues, administrators, and parents.  Candidates demonstrate knowledge of pedagogy appropriate to specific content areas as they plan lessons.  Various types of assessment are used to improve teaching and learning, and they apply best practices for effective classroom management of time, space, and resources.  The Effective School Leader demonstrates best leadership practices through inquiry, creativity, and reflective thinking.  Field experiences (FX) and clinical practice activities include reaching out to diverse populations, sensitive and responsive conferences with parents, and technology application. 

Content Knowledge (CK): Candidatesí thorough understanding of the content appropriate to the area of specialization. Candidates exhibit depth of knowledge in their area of specialization and breadth of understanding of general subjects within the educational unit.  The Effective Educator knows and presents content area concepts in ways that will positively impact student achievement.  Our candidates have a solid content background with skills in infusing technology into teaching and learning.  They use assessment and reflection to determine instructional strategies.  Required content courses are taken in partner colleges.  Literacy instruction is integrated across the curriculum, content area lessons are interrelated, and candidates facilitate the development of critical, analytical, and reflective thinking in their students.  They recognize how to connect content to studentsí lives and know how to concrete the abstract for students to be able to truly construct their own understanding.  The Effective School Leader has CK for leading school improvement and is provided specific knowledge of literacy and numeracy as preparation for working with school improvement efforts and families. 

Knowledge bases and policies.  Professional Standards (PS): Established criteria that guide effective professionals in each discipline area.  The educational unit is based on professional standards, enabling candidates to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to become effective professionals. University course objectives and learner outcomes are aligned with national, state, and institutional standards. Candidates incorporate professional standards as they progress through their educational experiences at Southeastern and continue that practice throughout their careers.  The Effective Professional is a reflective practitioner who understands how learners process information, and provides learning opportunities that support cognitive, social, and physical development.  Such wisdom of practice is demonstrated through candidate performance outcomes at several levels within courses and the assessment system.  The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) standards were adopted by T&L for initial certification programs; T&L advanced programs adopted the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS); and advanced programs in ELT adopted standards from the Educational Leadership Constituency Council (ELCC) and International Society of Technology in Education Standards (ISTE).  Exhibit CF 3 shows standards alignment with the CF.  The components of the CF along with the two integrated themes of diversity and technology are supported by established theoretical perspectives and research-driven practices (CF Comprehensive Report: References and Theoretical Support).  The CF reflects the Unitís commitment to preparing effective professionals who will support learning for all students.  The Unit addresses professional standards of a number of professional organizations and councils as shown in our reports for Standards for Professional Associations (SPAs).

Candidate proficiencies.  The high expectations for candidates at the initial and advanced levels are mirrored in the high expectations of qualified faculty at Southeastern and their commitment for a positive impact on student achievement.  The CF is the foundation for identifying the knowledge, skills, and dispositions expected of candidates, and assessment is accomplished through our fully implemented assessment system.  The COEHD has adopted candidate dispositions which can be grouped into four major categories: Professional Attributes and Professional Characteristics, qualities representative of effective professionals; Professional Relationships, positive interaction with faculty, peers, students, families, other school personnel, and community members; and Fairness, equity in practice at every level within the Unit and in field and clinical experiences (Exhibit CF 4).  Additionally, we believe professional development should be ongoing and continuous throughout an effective professionalís career.  We provide support to candidates identified with deficiencies through the Teacher Development Program

The effective professional draws from multicultural and global perspectives and has a conceptual understanding of how knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to diversity are integrated across the curriculum, instruction, FXs and clinical practice, and assessments.  Opportunities are provided for candidates to experience and understand the role of fairness and equity in the teaching and learning process through assignments that focus on learnersí individual needs, FXs in diverse settings, and professional development opportunities.  Undergraduate and advanced level courses have been designed to address diversity. 

Technology is emphasized in all programs and is infused and assessed in coursework to support and improve candidate and student learning at every level of instruction.  The online PASS-PORT assessment system is used to submit electronic portfolios, and in-service opportunities in technology are offered on an on-going basis.  Southeastern and the COEHD offer many distance education courses, and a high percentage of on-campus courses use Blackboard. 

Assessment system.  Cohesion is a vital part of programs throughout the Unit and is demonstrated by candidates completing courses in sequence which build on an integrative focus.  Candidatesí experiences build from introduction to application and include introductory, developing, and competency levels in initial certification programs and emerging, proficiency, and capstone levels in advanced programs.  To assure fairness, syllabi contain specific course expectations and assessments, and program handbooks are available online.  The CF served as a foundation for developing our Unit electronic assessment system, PASS-PORT.  Each candidateís progress is documented and assessed, and portals within the system ensure candidates have successfully achieved expectations before advancing.  The electronic portfolios contain artifacts that support the achievement of skills with connected standards and reflective writings.  Assessment results are used for improvement on multiple levelsĖby candidates to guide and refine learning; by instructors to identify strengths and weaknesses in individual course instruction and candidate learning; by departments to show overall strengths and weaknesses, institutional reporting, and program assessment; and by the Unit for needs assessment, program review and revisions, and accountability. 

Changes in the CF.  The CF Comprehensive Report and CF Minutes provide detailed information of the CF development.  After the 2002 NCATE visit, several concerns were identified: 1) the CF did not represent the entire Unit, 2) CF components were difficult to understand, 3) the role of diversity was not clearly articulated, 4) the integration of technology was not stressed, and 5) advanced programs were not included.  A self-study was designed, piloted by the CF team, revised, and administered to faculty.  Exhibit CF 5 contains the surveys, and results are indicated in CF Survey Results.  Outcomes have included revisions to the Unitís mission and vision statements, the CF components and descriptive statements, a revised graphic, Exhibit CF 6, and a list of terms, Exhibit CF 2.   For example, the term, Effective Educator, was replaced with Effective Professional and more accurate candidate descriptors: Effective Educators (T&L) and Effective School Leaders (ELT).  Of particular note is the conclusion that diversity and technology should not be additional components, but rather become themes integral to each component. 

As the CF has evolved into a more comprehensive guide, full implementation of revisions has been accomplished throughout the Unit.  An exciting collaborative outcome is the CF PowerPoint presentation used to present the CF to candidates, faculty, partner colleges, and school partners. 

University supervisors are now designated liaisons to supervising teachers in the field.  Survey data indicate components are clearly understood and areas of concern have been addressed (CF Survey Results).  Input has further indicated considerations for the next cycle, such as additional information on bookmarks and further analysis of the Unitís beliefs about the role of fairness.  The CF team continues to lead efforts to inform partners, candidates, and outside examiners about Unit purposes and goals established by the CF.  As the CF evolves, we recognize that together, the four components and the integration of diversity and technology complete the framework that provides direction for us to prepare candidates to become Effective Professionals who will continue to set the standard for excellence through best practice.




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