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The Conceptual Framework for the Professional Education Unit (PEU) of the University of Arkansas serves to establish a "shared vision for ... efforts in preparing educators to work effectively in P-12 schools." In so doing, it "provides direction for programs, courses, teaching, candidate performance, scholarship, service and unit accountability" (Professional Standards for the Accreditation of Schools, Colleges, and Departments of Education, 2001, p. 10).
The Conceptual Framework for the PEU is derived from the mission of the university and college and professional literature, and represents the views of numerous constituencies, including teacher education faculty in the COEHP, the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food, and Life Sciences, public school teachers, administrators, and candidates. The Conceptual Framework is visually represented as a compass (See Figure A: Conceptual Framework). Its four major points are represented as "knowledgeable, skillful, caring and inquiring." Each point reflects the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of scholar-practitioners based on the seven tenets of the scholar-practitioner model (See Figure B: The Scholar-Practitioner Model).
University of Arkansas graduates are prepared to become knowledgeable, skillful, caring, and inquiring scholar-practitioners in diverse educational settings who can balance the needs and aspirations of each learner with the expectations of an increasingly complex and technological society. Scholar-practitioners are teachers, administrators, counselors, and other school professionals who value theory and research, understand that theory and practice are complementary and mutually reinforcing, and are committed to the enhancement of teaching, learning, and professional practice. As such, they exemplify the seven scholar-practitioner tenets infused across the curriculum.
Within the context of the Conceptual Framework, the mission of the COEHP is to enhance the quality of life of the citizens of Arkansas, the nation and the world through the development of scholar-practitioners in education, health and human services through nationally and regionally accredited programs.
Professional Education Unit
The broader context within which the PEU's theme emerges derives from a component of the COEHP current Strategic Plan (Exhibit Room, Strategic Plans). Goal one of the plan calls for strengthening "the academic quality and reputation of the college by developing and enhancing programs of excellence in teaching, research and service" (COEHP Strategic Plan). Specifically, it emphasizes as a major objective "the improvement of teaching in Pre-K-12 ... educational institutions," reflective of a shared belief among the faculty that success in the preparation of professional educators will impact significantly the success of K-12 students themselves (Cochran-Smith, 2001).
Figure A: Conceptual Framework
(Linked with the Scholar-Practitioner Model)
One who accesses, uses, and/or generates knowledge
One who understands, respects, and values diversity
One who is knowledgeable about teachers and teaching,
learners and learning, schools and schooling
One who plans, implements,
and models best practices
One who communicates,
cooperates, and collaborates
One who understands, respects, and values diversity
One who makes decisions
based upon professional
standards and ethical
One who is a developing professional and a lifelong learner
Figure B: Scholar-Practitioner Model
M.A.T. M.Ed. M.S.
Students and Faculty Working and Learning Together
Tenets of Scholar-Practitioners
One who accesses, uses, and/or generates knowledge
One who plans, implements, and models best practices
One who understands, respects, and values diversity
One who is a developing professional and a lifelong learner
One who communicates, cooperates, and collaborates with others
One who makes decisions based upon professional standards and ethical criteria
One who is knowledgeable about teachers and teaching, learners and learning, schools and schooling
Teacher Preparation Program
Early Childhood Education
Middle Level Education
The goal of the PEU, preparing professional educators to be scholar-practitioners, is fully congruent with broader state and institutional mission and goals. The Scholar-Practitioner Model forms the basis for preparing teachers, administrators, school counselors, and other school professionals. This preparation occurs at the basic and advanced levels and ties directly into the COEHP mission of enhancing the quality of life of citizens of Arkansas and the nation. Teachers, administrators, counselors, and other school professionals play a significant role in the quality of life for all of our citizens.
Philosophy, Purposes, and Goals
The underlying philosophy of the University of Arkansas PEU espouses public education as the basis for our liberty, form of government, and economic viability. Moreover, the quality of public education and its ability to support our liberty, form of government, and economic viability rests directly on the quality of professional educators in schools. In a study conducted by the Educational Testing Service (2000), it was noted what happens in classrooms directly impacts student achievement. Research has concluded teachers make the most difference in student achievement (Berry, Hoke, & Hirsch, 2004). This implies student achievement is related to the quality of teachers and other educational professionals.
Because the COEHP's strategic plan undergirds the central theme of preparing educational personnel as scholar-practitioners, the Plan emerged as a product of broad-based collaboration and deliberation by the college faculty. The process was coordinated throughout 2001-2002 by the Associate Deans for both Administration and Academic Affairs. Strategic issues previously identified by the university's central administration were adopted as a framework guiding the development of the college's plan. Each department has operationalized the COEHP strategic plan and it's updated at the departmental level annually.
Scholar-practitioners, whether classroom teachers, school administrators, counselors, or other school personnel, must be knowledgeable, skillful, caring, and inquiring. They must possess the seven tenets that represent scholar-practitioners. These educational professionals are the most critical professionals in our society. Without an educated populace, democracy cannot survive. This was an understanding of our founding fathers and continues to be evident in our modern society.
The overarching goal of the PEU is to offer effective, academically-rigorous preparatory programs for future educators as scholar-practitioners who advocate for the learning of all children. Professional educators are prepared for teaching, administration, counseling, and other school professions. The scholar-practitioner reflects a professional who is knowledgeable about subject matter and pedagogy; skillful in teaching and managing classrooms and schools; caring about students, families, school staff and the community; and constantly inquiring to better the profession and increase the success of students, schools and the community.
Our commitment, accordingly, is to prepare teachers, administrators, counselors and other school professionals whose shared goal is successful learning by all students. This aspiration reflects a profound shift in perspective, away from traditional notions of teaching as simple information transmission and more toward a constructivist, cultural environmental view (Greeno, Collins & Resnick, 1994). Combining the provocative analyses of Heald-Taylor (1996) and Jungck and Marshall (1992), teaching is thus understood as an interactive transaction, where knowledge is constructed and reconstructed by both teachers and learners (Jungck & Marshall, 1992, p. 94; Aldridge & Goldman, 2002, pp. 75-78). The critical emphasis in the teaching-learning act, thus conceived, is always on the learning. The emphasis is on outcomes, on what students actually acquire in the way of cognitive knowledge, dispositions, skills, behaviors, and values. These are the outcomes that will impact their lives as adults and members of our community and serve the best interests of our society.
The compass serves to illustrate how the PEU's conceptual structure of the scholar-practitioner may be visualized. Knowledge, skills, and caring form the basis for NCATE standard one and inquiring is the fourth compass point and provides the basis for the scholarship components of the model. Each of these points includes one or more of the seven tenets of the scholar-practitioner model (See Figure B: Scholar-Practitioner Model).
1. One who accesses, uses, or generates knowledge
2. One who plans, implements, and models best practices
3. One who understands, respects, and values diversity
4. One who is a developing professional and a lifelong learner
5. One who communicates, cooperates, and collaborates with others
6. One who makes decisions based upon ethical standards and professional criteria
7. One who is knowledgeable about teachers and teaching, learners and learning, and schools and schooling
Professional educators must possess general knowledge, content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and professional knowledge to be effective. The scholar-practitioner tenets that accompany knowledgeable are: 1) One who accesses, uses, or generates knowledge, 3) One who understands, respects, and values diversity, and 7) One who is knowledgeable about teachers and teaching, learners and learning, and schools and schooling.
Professional preparation programs must provide opportunities for professionals to develop knowledge in each of these areas. General education furnishes the basis of general knowledge. Systematic instruction in a broad range of subject-matter disciplines constitutes the basis of a student's overall education as well as the broader context within which specific teaching content knowledge is found. The University of Arkansas professional education preparation programs focus on preparing educational professionals who are grounded in a strong knowledge base. This is achieved through completing the "university core curriculum" as one of the prerequisites of the undergraduate baccalaureate degree. Requiring candidates to complete a core of required liberal arts and science courses is one of the recommendations made by the Report of the K-16 Teacher Education Task Force (American Federation of Teachers, 2000).
Content knowledge consists of knowledge about subject matter. It is a truism that professional educators require an excellent knowledge of the content to be taught. "There's a strong consensus these days that adequate subject knowledge is necessary for teachers to be successful" (Education Commission of the States, 2003). Candidates become proficient in content knowledge through coursework in the COEHP and the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences.
Pedagogical knowledge is the knowledge about teaching. While there has been a long debate about the importance of pedagogical knowledge in teaching, "the research provides limited support for the conclusion that preparation in pedagogy can contribute significantly to effective teaching (focused, for example, on how to teach mathematics or science) and those designed to develop core skills, such as classroom management, student assessment and curriculum development" (Education Commission on the States, p. 2). Candidates become proficient in pedagogical knowledge through methods courses and field-based learning opportunities.
Professional knowledge consists of course work devoted to student development, classroom management, instructional methodology, curriculum, information technology, assessment and evaluation, multiculturalism, and other foundational knowledge. Field-based learning opportunities also facilitate candidates' proficiency in professional knowledge.
Skills form the second compass point. This compass point includes the pedagogy required to be an effective teacher, administrator, or other school professional. Tenets associated with skillful include: 2) One who plans, implements, and models best practices and 5) One who communicates, cooperates, and collaborates with others.
Skills are obtained through content coursework and field based learning opportunities. There appears to be broad consensus that practical experience is necessary in order to learn to teach (Education Commission of the States, 2003). Practical field experience is an essential element in any future educator's professional preparation. Extensive field-based learning opportunities are required in each professional preparation program. Professional education candidates, for example, must acquire practical experience in some type of appropriate clinical setting. Skills are also developed through professional education courses.
The third compass point is caring. This includes caring about students, fellow educators, parents, and the community. The caring component includes dispositions. In the context of this definition, the PEU has identified those dispositions that we seek to inculcate in our professional education candidates. Tenets associated with caring include: 3) One who understands, respects and values diversity and 6) One who makes decisions based upon ethical standards and professional criteria.
Professional educators are advocates of learning exhibiting excellence as practitioners in their profession and are scholars who both use and contribute to the knowledge base. These dispositions have been categorized into broad areas that define the beliefs and attitudes our programs recognize as being indicators of effective educators and are used to guide our programs. The broad categories include examples of beliefs about Learning Environments, Teaching and Learning, and Professionalism.
Professional educators never stop learning. The final compass point is inquiry that includes professional development. The tenet associated with inquiring is number four: One who is a developing professional and a lifelong learner.
"In order to meet the changing demands of their jobs, high-quality teachers must be capable and willing to continuously learn and relearn their trade" (Lewis, et al., 1999). Inquiry can mean conducting action research to address problems and issues, or keeping current with research through the literature. While keeping up with research is not an easy task, "one of the important hallmarks of a professional is finding, evaluating, and implementing the results of valid and reliable research results" (Johnson, et al., 2003, p. 362).
Graduates from the University of Arkansas are expected to be scholar practitioners who advocate for the learning of all children in diverse settings. Proficiencies reflect the knowledge, skills, and dispositions identified by specialized professional associations (SPAs) and NCATE, and criteria found in Praxis I, II, and III. The outcomes of the University of Arkansas PEU focus on the preparation of professional educators who will be scholar-practitioners. They will assume leadership roles in education that will enable them to enhance the quality of life of citizens in Arkansas, the nation and the world. This is the mission of the COEHP. Professional Education Unit faculty are in clear agreement there are specific characteristics that define the professional educator. In broad terms, these include the seven tenets.
Each of the outcomes delineated in the seven tenets are supported in the literature.
1. One who accesses, uses, or generates knowledge. Accessing, using, and generating knowledge is an on-going requirement for educational professionals, particularly in an era when information and knowledge are expanding so rapidly. Professional educators must make major efforts in keeping abreast of new knowledge. All professional educators should be conversant with, and proficient in, the use of instructional and information technology to extend and enhance student learning. In the past decade, technology has dramatically changed the way we live, and must change the way we teach (Kauchak & Eggen, 2003). Teachers must prepare students for the information age (Johnson, et al., 2002). With the amount of information and knowledge growing exponentially, students must be able to keep up with information trends. The only way students can learn how to do this is through modeling and instruction from proficient teachers. Research has indicated education technology can improve student achievement (Year Four, The CEO Forum on Education and Technology, 2001).
2. One who plans, implements, and models best practices. Best practices must be constantly updated and implemented. In the No Child Left Behind era, professional educators must be cognizant of the most recent scientifically proven methods in teaching. The legislation requires schools to employ "highly qualified teachers" (Berry, Hoke, & Hirsch, 2004). Professional educators must have a rich, sustained, and systematic depth of first-hand, practical experience in a "real-world" educational setting or context.
Being knowledgeable about how to maintain an environment conducive to student learning, critical thinking, reflective analysis, and effective problem-solving is essential if professional educators are to be successful. Simply knowing the content of a body of instruction is insufficient to be a good teacher. Often experts in content are unaware of their limitations in teaching, a phenomenon that has been labeled expert blind spot (Nathan & Petrosino, 2003). Research supports the importance of pedagogy alongside content knowledge. For example, Applebee, Langer, Nystrand, and Gamoran (2003) found that discussion-based instruction, along with high expectations, resulted in greater student learning. Skills are obtained through content coursework and field based learning opportunities. Practical field experience is an essential element in any future educator's professional preparation. Professional education candidates must acquire practical experience in an appropriate clinical setting. Skills are also developed through professional education courses.
3. One who understands, respects, and values diversity. Being appreciative of racial, ethnic and cultural diversity within a multicultural environment and striving to practice inclusively in his or her instruction is mandatory in our increasingly diverse schools. While the school population has become increasingly more diverse, professional educators have actually remained relatively homogeneous (Johnson, et al., 2002; Young, 1999; Smith, 1998). In order to effectively teach in diverse schools, professional educators must be able to view cultural values and mores from inside that particular cultural group rather than the educator's group (Wandberg & Rohwer, 2003). As a result, college preparation programs must make an institutional commitment to diversity "in their faculties, administrators, student populations, as well as the need to reexamine their curricula and course requirements, campus climate, and reward structures" (Ladson-Billings, 1999, p. 102). "Being aware of the various dimensions of diversity that students have will enable (teachers) to better address their educational needs" (Morrison, 2003, p. 60).
Being sensitive to, and appreciative of, the need to align multiple types of student assessment with learning objectives is mandatory in diverse schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students with disabilities be included in all aspects of schools (Smith, Polloway, Patton, & Dowdy, 2004). The diversity of students related to ability, in conjunction with diversity related to culture, race, and language, require that schools have multiple options for assessment. Schools must be prepared to modify their assessments and objectives to meet the unique needs of students.
Exhibiting a strong personal conviction that every child can learn and can achieve at some developmentally appropriate level reflects that professional educators care about their students. Caring is a crucial component of the scholar-practitioner model. Teachers, administrators, counselors, and all other school staff must care about students in their charge. There is evidence to indicate that some students do not do well in school because of a "caring disability." Educators need to create a positive, supportive, caring environment to make students feel like their performance and their success is important (Wandberg & Rohwer, 2003).
4. One who is a developing professional and a lifelong learner. Possessing lively intellectual curiosity and an enthusiasm for life-long learning contributes to the success of professional educators. In 1997, 84 percent of responding teachers indicated that those who were themselves lifelong learners felt that constantly updating their skills was absolutely essential (Public Agenda, 1997). Professional educators in all roles must maintain their curiosity and enthusiasm for learning. This requires that professional educators are researchers in their own schools and classrooms, and that they continue to learn throughout their careers. Action research, in their own schools and classrooms, enables professional educators to study issues, reflect on issues, and make changes in response to their research (Morrison, 2003). This cycle enables them to continue to learn and improve their teaching, administering, or counseling. Reflection is a component of professional development; being able to reflect on how one performs a professional education role enables the individual to determine specific professional development activities that are needed. The challenge, at that point, becomes selecting the appropriate professional development opportunities from a variety of options (Wandberg & Rohwer, 2003).
5. One who communicates, cooperates, and collaborates with others. Communication, cooperation, and collaboration are skills that are critical for professional educators to possess. Among other things, teachers must report to parents and others and collaborate with colleagues and community partners. There appears to be a growing emphasis on collegiality in the schools among professional educators and community members. Collaboration among professional educators results in numerous benefits, including: (1) Professional interaction and support, (2) effective use of team members' special talents and abilities, (3) opportunities for peer coaching or mentoring and reflective practice, and (4) opportunities to meet all students' needs and enrich their learning (Morrison, 2003, p. 35).
As schools become more and more diverse -- racially, culturally, and intellectually, professional educators must collaborate more. Collaboration and communication will continue to be skills that professional educators must develop and use routinely.
6. One who makes decisions based upon ethical standards and professional criteria. Professional educators should be imbued with a well-defined sense of professionalism, ethical responsibility, and a commitment to the teaching profession. The issue of whether careers in education constitute a profession has long been an issue in American public education. Indeed, if teachers are to receive the respect they deserve Morrison (2003) notes that "Ethics is integral to how teachers practice their profession," and that teachers and other professional educators "are governed by their own personal ethics as well as the ethics of their profession" (p. 352).
7. One who is knowledgeable about teachers and teaching, learners and learning, schools and schooling.
Acquiring a wealth of professional knowledge of teaching and learning, child or adolescent development, and a repertoire of effective instructional and classroom management skills is mandatory for professional educators. Research has shown that "teachers' ratings of their overall preparedness are significantly related to their sense of efficacy about whether they are able to make a difference in student learning" (Darling-Hammond, Chung, & Frelow, 2002, p. 294). Teachers who have a background in university teacher preparation programs are more likely to have a feeling of preparedness compared to teachers who enter the profession through alternative routes (Darling-Hammond, et al., 2002). Skills are obtained through content coursework and field based learning opportunities. Practical field experience is an essential element in any future educator's professional preparation. Professional education candidates, for example, must acquire practical experience in some type of appropriate clinical setting. Skills are also developed through professional education courses. Professional knowledge consists of course work devoted to student development, classroom management, instructional methodology, curriculum, information technology, assessment and evaluation, multiculturalism, and other foundational knowledge.
Professional educators must be proficient in organizing and sustaining a rich, demanding curriculum with explicit, agreed-upon goals for all learners. The curriculum of a school consists of the entire experiences students encounter during school. This includes academic subjects, extra-curricular activities, bus rides, etc. (Morrison, 2003). The school's curricula set the stage for student learning and interactions. It must be demanding; it must be rich; and it must be adaptable to all students. As a result of the ever-growing diversity in our schools, the nature of the school curriculum is more important than ever.
Individuals preparing for professional roles in educational settings need to have experience. One-way to gain such experience is through field experience. Traditional teacher preparation programs had a one-shot, student teaching opportunity as the defining field experience. However, the growing trend, which is considered a very positive change, is to broaden field experience opportunities beginning with early courses in education (Haselkorn & Calkins, 2000; Morrison, 2003).
Relationship of the Conceptual Framework to Standards
The increasing emphasis on professional standards for educators has reinforced the relevance of our Conceptual Framework. Scholar-practitioners demonstrate knowledge, skills, caring, and inquiry through the seven tenets. As accountability becomes more and more intense with an ever-growing list of "outcomes," "indicators" and "competencies" developed by state governments and professional groups, only well-designed professional educator preparation programs can prepare students to meet the standards. The literature underlines the importance of professional educators having knowledge, skills, inquiry, and caring. Challenges related to the increasing diversity of students, including those with special needs (Smith, et al., 2004), quality counseling support services, and appropriate involvement of families continue to mount. Preparing scholar-practitioners to meet these challenges requires a growing body of knowledge, increasing skills, continuous inquiry, and a caring professional. The following addresses the specific indicators related to the conceptual framework:
The college vision was developed through a series of faculty retreats and meetings, which included representatives from public school programs. This vision is used in each of the programs that train school personnel, including early childhood, middle childhood, secondary education, special education, gifted education, educational administration, physical education and counselor education. It provides the basis for content and training opportunities for professional educators.
The college curriculum, instructional practices, field experiences, clinical practice, and assessments are all related to the Conceptual Framework. The conceptual framework is woven into each of these areas and forms the basis for all instructional and assessment activities.
Professional Commitments and Dispositions
The Conceptual Framework reflects the commitments of the faculty to knowledge, teaching competence, and student learning. These were developed through a series of workshops, faculty retreats, and meetings. The Conceptual Framework evolved though discussions and consensus building activities.
Commitment to Diversity
The PEU is committed to diversity. The Conceptual Framework reflects the commitment to prepare school personnel to support learning for all students, including those from diverse racial, socio-economic, and cultural backgrounds. Diversity as it relates to disabilities is also incorporated in preparation of school personnel. The culture found in today's American schools is increasingly diverse. In 1970, approximately 8 million students were minority students and 44 million were white; in 2000, the number of minority students had increased to more than 10 million while the number of white students had actually decreased to slightly over 40 million (Digest of Educational Statistics, 2002). Unfortunately, while the number of students from culturally diverse backgrounds has been increasing in our public schools, the number of teachers from minority backgrounds has not increased accordingly.
Some teachers have not been adequately prepared to teach children from poverty and culturally diverse backgrounds (Darling-Hammond, 1997). The Conceptual Framework adopted by the PEU represents a focus on the important role played by professional educators in working in schools with such incredible diversity. Indeed, if the preparation of professional educators truly addresses diversity issues, college-training programs must make an institutional commitment to diversity "in their faculties, administrators, student populations, as well as the need to reexamine their curricula and course requirements, campus climate, and reward structures" (Ladson-Billings, 1999, p. 102).
The PEU preparation programs prepare professional educators to develop an understanding of diversity issues, including race, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic class, language, special needs, religion and exceptionalities. Programs include content and experiential opportunities for candidates to understand, adopt, and apply various values related to their roles in the schools. Students are involved in learning activities that focus on ethnic/racial, linguistic, socio-economic, and gender-related variables of diversity; understanding one's own culture; developing an awareness of and appreciation for differences; implications for personal and teaching interactions; and culturally responsive teaching practices.
These experiences are imbedded in a wide variety of courses, as well as courses specifically designed for these topics. Field placements are also made with a strong consideration for opportunities for experiences with diverse populations.
Commitment to Technology
It is obvious that major developments have occurred and will continue to occur in the area of technology that must be addressed by professional educator preparation programs. The PEU recognizes the importance of preparing its candidates to understand technology operations and concepts; the use of technology in productivity and professional practice, and the social ethical, legal, and human issues associated with the use of technology. Guided by the ISTE National Educational Technology Standards, University of Arkansas candidates must demonstrate the use of technology to plan and design learning environments and experiences; to teach, to learn, and to evaluate student learning.
Candidate Proficiencies Aligned with Professional and State Standards
The Conceptual Framework ensures that the proficiencies of individuals are aligned with professional and state standards. The standards of eight professional organizations are incorporated in professional preparation programs, as reflected in individual SPA reports (Exhibit Room, SPA Reports).
The unit assessment system (Exhibit Room, Unit Assessment Plan) at the University of Arkansas is based on principles of quality and continuous improvement. It assesses students at various points during their educational program and includes both formative and summative evaluations. The assessment system is designed to determine the extent to which program graduates are attaining the unit's outcomes and whether the unit is achieving its aim of preparing scholar-practitioners who are knowledgeable, skillful, caring, and inquiring.
Data for the assessment system are collected at various decision points, including entry into professional programs, prior to entering clinical practice, prior to exiting clinical practice, and program completion. The unit assessment plan outlines all of the data collected at the various decision points.
Candidates for admission to professional programs must show their potential for success through standardized tests, grade point averages, appropriate communication skills, and dispositions appropriate for individuals entering professional programs.
The teacher education program is based on field-based instruction and experiences. Candidates are assessed regularly through observations and application of various assessment rubrics. Praxis test scores, grade point averages, interviews, action research projects, and portfolios are used to assess students' preparedness for entry into programs as well as their preparedness for exiting programs.