Conceptual Framework

Professional Education Unit

Professional Education Unit Conceptual Framework

Philosophy

"Education as a Transformational Enterprise "

The Philosophy, which guides the Conceptual Framework, is grounded by and interconnected with the Unit Mission and Vision; each informs and complements the others, and together they inspire and provide focus to the Unit's academic programs and to the experiences and processes to which candidates are exposed as they progress through these programs. Each Unit Outcomes is sustained by the following organizing themes regarding the preparation of educators and related service providers:

  1. Dedication to enhancing lives by promoting the role of education and related educational services in society and in the world.
  2. Emphasis on the development of candidates' knowledge, skills, and dispositions relative to diversity.
  3. Commitment to continuing improvement based on analysis of evidence of candidate and program outcomes relative to professional standards and guidelines.
  4. Engagement of learning communities in which faculty, practitioners, candidates, and P-12 students learn through active, collaborative inquiry.
  5. Utilization of extant technology, research, and theory to impact teaching and learning in authentic contexts.

Consistent with the Unit's vision and mission, the continual evolution of our Conceptual Framework entails ongoing reflection on our beliefs and values regarding learning and teaching, and widespread discussion and collaboration with our colleagues and partners. Our Conceptual Framework comprises a standards-based, evidenced focused, inquiry-oriented, collaborative approach through which professional educators and related service providers develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions deemed essential to serve as practitioners and researchers in the transformational process.

In consort with our belief in program-level decision-making, one will find multiple, program-level philosophies within the PEU context. Each professional education program is guided by a program philosophy that is informed by the COE mission, and the PEU Conceptual Framework. Each program-level philosophy reflects the orientation of the program faculty, and their professional partners and colleagues, and is informed by perspectives of education professional practitioners (e.g., classroom teachers, school administrators, school counselors and school psychologists, etc.), professional associations, state and national governance entities, and the like.

Our educational past is not to be viewed as completed, or isolated from our educational present. Rather, the varying contexts in which leading educators, philosophers, and ideologists interacted with their environments are viewed as episodes in an ongoing educational experience. It provides us with a historical, philosophical, and ideological map or grid on which we can locate ourselves as educators today. (Gutek, 2001, p. 4).

Knowledge Base

Our Conceptual Framework, Education as a Transformational Enterprise , is grounded by a knowledge base derived from empirical research, disciplined inquiry, informed theory, and the wisdom of practice. The contributions of many educators, philosophers, researchers, and practitioners give direction to the professional education programs at UNC. Inspired by the scholarship of Dewey (1904, 1933, 1938), and the work of Freire (1998), Darling-Hammond (1998) and Kozol (2000), among others, we embrace the historical shift in pedagogy from teaching as a mechanical process of delivering information, to a concept of more informed practice based on reflection, caring, and inquiry. We are involved in the national movement to bring professional educators and public school practitioners together for common purposes (Goodlad, 1990; NNER, 1999; Duckworth, 1996).

Members of the PEU believe that learning is cultural and social, and that one of the greatest educational challenges for the 21 st. century is the search for a socially-just curriculum that engages all learners and brings meaning to their lives (Freire, 1998; Cochran-Smith, 2000, 2001; AACTE, 1997; Ben-Peretz, 2001). We believe that transformations-changes in lives lived-can be brought about by educators who are thoughtful (Posner, 2000; Oakes & Lipton, 1999; van Manen, 1986; Fullan, 1993; Noddings, 1984; Darling-Hammond & Cobb, 1996), who inspire others to participate in educational improvement (Barth, 1990; Goodlad, 1990), and who join their colleagues for purposes of renewing schools and professional education programs (Goodlad, 1990; Sergiovanni & Moore, 1989).

Guiding Principles

Consistency across our Mission , our Vision, our Philosophy, and our Knowledge Base establishes a solid foundation for the six Guiding Principles, which reflect our core values within the Unit:

1. Professional Education is a Transformational Enterprise

The PEU perceives professional education as a transformational endeavor by which candidates, faculty, partners, colleagues, and P-12 students are invested in the generation of shared learning experiences, which promote discovery and renewal of oneself and the world.

2. Successful Professional Educators and Related Service Providers are Reflective, Inquiry-Oriented, Evidence-Based Decision-Makers

The PEU embraces the concept of professional educators and related service providers as reflective, inquiry-oriented, evidence-based, decision-makers. There is a firm belief here at UNC that, inquiry-oriented decision-making that is evidence-based is among the essential characteristics promising success for those who complete our programs.

3. Successful Professional Educators and Related Service Providers Respect and Respond to Multiple Representations of Diversity that Include Racial, Ethnic, Linguistic, Gender, Philosophical, Cultural, Socioeconomic Status, Age, Ability, and Sexual Orientation

The PEU is compelled to design professional education and related service programs that prepare educators who respect and are responsive to the interests of all students, families, school personnel, and clients they will serve. We affirm a commitment to contributing to and strengthening the social fabric that results from supporting and celebrating the diversity of humankind across the world.

4. Successful Professional Educators and Related Service Providers Collaborate with Professional Partners and Colleagues in Ways that Lead to Simultaneous Renewal and Growth

The PEU believes that collaboration is one of the most important professional constructs. We believe that university/school/agency collaboration creates a bridge connecting educational theory, research, and practice. We further believe that educators must be skilled in working together to facilitate the implementation of collaborative learning environments in professional education and related settings. We also believe that collaboration within and across traditional boundaries is a key feature of practices by which professional renewal of individuals and programs can be successfully realized.

5. Successful Professional Educators and Related Service Providers Have a Commitment to Standards-Based, Performance-Focused Teaching, Assessment, Learning, and Development

The PEU is committed to creating and implementing a standards-based, performance-focused model by which programs systematically gather, analyze, and use data for self-improvement and candidate support--especially data that demonstrate candidate proficiencies, including content knowledge, positive effects on student/family/client outcomes, learning and growth. Implicit in this commitment is the belief that assessment of our graduates' knowledge, skills, and dispositions must occur relative to dedicated performance standards.

6. Successful Professional Educators and Related Service Providers Utilize Technology to Improve Teaching, Advance Learning, and Enhance Development

The PEU believes that the infusion of technology throughout the curriculum should be a hallmark of our professional education programs. We believe that candidates should be provided ample opportunities to explore content-specific applications of computing, print, and telecommunications technologies, as well as to analyze current issues related to the utilization of technology by the education community. We further believe that candidates must be afforded opportunities to develop skills in integrating a variety of instructional delivery systems and technologies, and to learn to exploit extant technologies to develop, manage, convey, and assess information necessary to advance effective teaching, learning and research.

These six Guiding Principles--shared values within the Unit--have informed and grounded ongoing discussions among PEU faculty and P-12 colleagues regarding such issues as professional standards, candidate expectations, assessment, program renewal, and professional development. As a result of our reflection and discussions of these Guiding Principles, the entire PEU faculty, along with our partners, have come to view ourselves as "mutually valued contributors to program development and to accomplishing shared purposes" (Gideonse et al., 1993). The focus of our professional education programs is to transform both ourselves and schools from dispensers of knowledge to collaborators who endeavor to create a culture in which P-12 students, school practitioners, professional education faculty and their colleagues, and our community partners are continuously learning together.

Our belief that education is transformational, and that our candidates can make a difference in the lives of their students and clients is an important part of the vision of the educational enterprise that is shared by all PEU faculty. According to Margaret Yonemura, transformational experiences afford candidates opportunities "to see that they have power, and that the settings of school and classroom are not 'inescapable reality', but are transformable" (1987, p. 278). The realization of this construct evolves out of communal exchanges among faculty, colleagues, partners, and candidates. Through this communion of understanding, all participants benefit from collaborative reflections upon (and diverse points of view) of their collective histories, their roles as emerging and continuing professional educators, and their collective visions of the future.

In consort with the PEU mission statement, our Conceptual Framework provides a structure for ensuring coherence with regard to decisions that guarantee alignment among curriculum, instruction, field experiences, clinical practice, and assessment across a candidate's program, and across the professional education programs. Curriculum and assessment in all programs is organized to reflect Unit Outcomes at the heart of our Conceptual Framework, and the model that flows from this organization is aligned with state and national professional standards.

In terms of assessment, our Conceptual Framework represents a statement of principles that can serve as the basis for defining the extent to which the Unit and the individual programs reflect shared values and meet professional standards. Faculty and partners in all professional education programs are developing and implementing multiple, varied, and continuous performance assessment measures which they use to a) evaluate the extent to which programs actualize the values and outcomes in our Conceptual Framework; b) assess candidates' proficiencies in meeting professional standards; and c) make decisions about improving candidate, program, and student accomplishment.

Elements of our Conceptual Framework provide a coherent direction and tone that help inform the professional identity of faculty, colleagues, partners, and candidates. In addition, these elements represent common grounds for professional "correspondence" among the entire community of learners--points of departure from which members of the learning community continue their journeys toward fulfillment of their ideals of educational excellence. Thus, our Conceptual Framework serves as a lens through which individual programs gain perspective about how the components of their programs connect with and contribute to a vision shared by all.

Aim

Guided by our underlying Vision, Mission , Philosophy, and Guiding Principles, the ultimate Aim of the CoE/PEU is to facilitating the development of committed, caring, and competent professional educators, administrators, academicians, and related human service providers who positively impact the lives of all children, youth, families, school professionals, and other community members. Our Aim is to facilitate individual, systemic, and societal change, through development and renewal, while acting both individually and collaboratively. This broad Aim is exemplified by the development and display of the following Aims differentiated for Initial and Advanced Programs:

Unit Aims for Initial Programs

  1. Competence in CARING --Faculty, partners, and candidates respect all learners, each other, and community members. They work together to support the intellectual, academic, social, emotional, and physical well being of those in their care.
  2. UNDERSTANDING Education as a Collaborative Enterprise --Faculty and candidates collaborate as both learners and teachers and from their diverse perspectives receive, interpret, and contribute meaning and understanding to the educational enterprise.
  3. Continuous INQUIRY for Renewal --Rich meaningful investigations occur around new questions and insights as faculty and candidates reflect critically about content and share discoveries about themselves and the world; candidates' reflections guide the directions, depth, and substance of succeeding phases of learning and inquiry, just as they influence the intellectual, moral, and sociocultural integrity of the learning environment.

Unit Aims for Advanced Programs

  1. Competence in CONTENT and CARING --Faculty, partners, and candidates respect all learners, each other, and community members. They work together to support the intellectual, academic, social, emotional, and physical well being of those in their care.
  2. UNDERSTANDING Education as a Collaborative Enterprise --Faculty and candidates collaborate as both learners and teachers and, from their diverse perspectives, receive, interpret, and contribute meaning and understanding to the educational enterprise.
  3. Continuous INQUIRY for Renewal --Rich, meaningful investigations occur around new questions and insights as faculty and candidates reflect critically about content and share discoveries about themselves and the world; candidates' reflections guide the direction, depth, and substance of succeeding phases of learning and inquiry, just as they influence the intellectual, moral, and sociocultural integrity of the learning environment.

Unit Outcomes

The PEU Conceptual Framework features a set of Unit Outcomes or Candidate Proficiencies that are central to the mission of the Unit, and which reflect our perception of professional education as a transformational enterprise. The Candidate Proficiencies highlight our belief that professional educators perform many complex roles, and that they are more than just conduits of knowledge. Professional educators need to be performance-capable in many arenas in order to think and perform in transformational, recursive ways. Recursion is manifest when evidence of the Unit's and program's accomplishments are fed back with an impact that affects all elements, and facilitates transformation in the Unit, program faculty and partners, in learners, in the profession, in society, and in the world.

The Unit Candidate Proficiencies form the philosophical core of the PEU and lie at the heart of our Conceptual Framework. A graphic display of our conceptual diagram is attached.

Definitions of the diagram's components are displayed in Conceptual Framework: Appendix A. The Candidate Proficiencies describe the understandings, practices, and characteristics of professional identity necessary for educational professionals to attain at the Initial and Advanced levels:

Candidate Proficiencies for Initial Programs

Competence in Caring:

  1. Candidates understand the importance of caring as an underlying attribute of an effective professional (knowledge).
  2. Candidates are able to mediate ideas and communicate caring viewpoints, through the modification and adaptation of the curriculum and development of supportive interventions in the school, community, and family (skills).
  3. Candidates demonstrate a desire to reflect upon and promote unbiased attitudes and impart the skills necessary for understanding and performing successfully in a diverse world (dispositions).

Mastery of Subject Matter:

  1. Candidates understand the subject matter they are preparing to teach (knowledge).
  2. Candidates are able to identify, design, and employ assessment strategies and use technology to create solution-focused interventions that support the acquisition of subject matter knowledge in their students (skills).
  3. Candidates demonstrate an appreciation for academic understanding, knowledge, intellectual examination, and evidence-based decision-making (dispositions).

Understanding Education as a Collaborative Enterprise:

  1. Candidates understand the need to work collaboratively with their colleagues, students, families, communities, and other professionals to improve learning environments for students (knowledge).
  2. Candidates are able to work collaboratively and utilize technology to implement instruction and related interventions (skills).
  3. Candidates are able to reflect critically about their personal experiences, identities as professionals, and beliefs about the profession (dispositions).

Continuous Inquiry for Renewal:

  1. Candidates understand the principles of standards-based decision-making, pedagogical content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and how this knowledge informs practice to support learning and development (knowledge).
  2. Candidates are able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the professional literature to inform practice in their discipline (skills).
  3. Candidates respect and model appropriate professional and ethical behaviors that embody their commitment to systematic research, educational inquiry, and practice (dispositions).

Candidate Proficiencies for Advanced Programs

Competence in Content and Caring:

  1. Candidates have an in-depth understanding of their specialized discipline that facilitates competence in content and caring (knowledge).
  2. Candidates are able to identify, design, and employ a variety of evidence-based assessment strategies and use various technologies to create, support, and enhance teaching, learning, and development within the classroom, school, or community (skills).
  3. Candidates are able to mediate ideas and viewpoints through the modification of curriculum materials, development of appropriate interventions, and appreciation of what is known in varied contexts including the school, community, and family (skills).
  4. Candidates are able to transmit and promote unbiased attitudes toward diversity and impart the academic and social skills necessary for understanding and performing successfully in a diverse world (dispositions).

Understanding Education as a Collaborative Enterprise:

  1. Candidates understand the need to work collaboratively with their colleagues, students, families, communities, and other professionals to improve learning environments for students (knowledge).
  2. Candidates are able to work collaboratively to implement instruction and related interventions (skills).
  3. Candidates are able to utilize technology to locate information, transmit knowledge, collaborate and communicate, and support learning and development (skills).
  4. Candidates are able to reflect critically about their personal experiences, identities as professionals, and beliefs about the profession (dispositions).

Continuous Inquiry for Renewal:

  1. Candidates understand the principles of standards-based decision-making and the foundations of empirical research that contribute to the body of knowledge in their discipline (knowledge).
  2. Candidates demonstrate a reflective, solution-focused orientation by engaging in critical thinking and evidence-based decision-making (skills).
  3. Candidates are able to analyze, synthesize, and evaluate the professional literature to inform practice in their discipline. They are able to disseminate knowledge effectively through professional presentations and writing (skills).
  4. Candidates respect and model appropriate professional and ethical behaviors that embody their commitment to systematic research, educational inquiry, and practice (dispositions).