A. 4. The Conceptual Framework

A.4. Conceptual framework

The Unit supports the belief that education is transformational; that candidates who successfully complete our professional education programs can make a difference in the lives of their students and clients. For humankind, according to Paulo Freire, “to transform the world is to humanize it” (1998, p. 501). The vision of the Unit is to lead conversations around issues of human enlightenment, social conscience, and mutual caring. This ideal includes helping candidates acquire the knowledge, ability, and will to impact all students’ life potential. Our vision is to inspire in candidates a heightened and consequential sense of responsibility for stewardship of our schools and our communities.

Mission of the Professional Education Unit

As the premiere education institution in the state of Colorado, the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences/Professional Education Unit at the University of Northern Colorado contributes to the betterment of society through research, professional service, and the preparation of a diverse and comprehensive array of education professionals who are life-long learners, skilled in pedagogy and content, knowledgeable of standards and assessment, and capable of working effectively with all populations in a changing global environment.

The Unit’s Conceptual Framework guides the work of the Unit by providing a shared vision for the preparation of educators. The basic tenants of the vision, mission, aims, and candidate proficiencies have been shared and articulated consistently since the previous review. The “Unit Passport,” a pocket-sized condensed version of the conceptual framework, was developed and used across the Unit to guide coherence across curriculum, experiences, and assessment. The conceptual framework is reviewed periodically by the PEC and NCATE Team and updates have taken place since the last onsite visit to assure contemporary and informed scholarly thought and research.

The philosophy, which guides the Conceptual Framework, is grounded by and interconnected with the Unit Mission and Vision. Together the mission and vision inspire and provide focus to the Unit’s six Guiding Principles: (1) professional education is a transformational enterprise; (2) successful educators are reflective, inquiry-oriented, evidence-based decision-makers; (3) they respect and respond to multiple representations of diversity; (4) they collaborate with professional partners and colleagues for simultaneous renewal and growth; (5) they have a commitment to standards-based, performance-focused teaching, assessment, learning, and development; and (6) they utilize technology to improve teaching, advance learning, and enhance development. The Unit Conceptual Framework features a set of Unit Outcomes or Candidate Proficiencies which are delineated into the knowledge, skills, and dispositions in the four proficiencies of Caring, Content, Collaboration and Inquiry.