The College of Education at the UAE

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Introduction

In 1999, the College of Education (CEDU) at the United Arab Emirates University appointed a committee to develop its first conceptual framework document in anticipation to apply for program recognition through the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education (CQAIE) applying the accreditation standards of the Washington-based National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). This original document, prepared by the inaugural conceptual framework committee, provided a foundational philosophy for the CEDU's underlying theme of "Teachers as professional practitioners".

Change process

Conceptual frameworks should be considered as works-in-progress. In September 2006, it was deemed time to critically re-examine, reflect on and, if necessary, revise the original conceptual framework. A new committee was convened to continue the efforts of the earlier committee. The new committee was comprised of: Dr. Sana Tibi (Chair); Dr. Abdulsalam Alzabi; Dr. Holly Stone Pak; Dr. Lorraine McLeod; and Dr. Negmeldin Alsheikh. All departments in the CEDU were represented on the committee.

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The new committee met on a weekly basis during the period from September 2006 to June 2007. The committee examined the original 2000 document in light of international, UAE and CEDU developments in teacher education. When the first draft of the new Conceptual Framework was prepared in June 2007, all faculty members were provided with opportunities to give feedback, and the draft was amended.

Later in 2007 the CEDU Standards Committee, comprised of chairs of each of the six Standards Committees, revised the draft. The Standards Committee Chairs were: Dr. Abdelaziz Sartawi, Dr. Othman Al-Sawaie, Dr. Ahmed Kaled, Dr. Hala El-Huwaires Dr. Ali Al Kaabi and Dr. Nagib Mahfouz.

After the Standards Committee had completed its task, faculty members were offered an opportunity to give written feedback on the second draft Conceptual Framework document.

In April 2008, Drs. Tibi and McLeod were assigned to edit the Conceptual Framework document to ensure cohesion among all sections.

Modifications in the Conceptual Framework

The original Conceptual Framework with its twelve elements provided the base for members of the CEDU community to work together collaboratively, and the 2007 committee wished to retain this focus. As a result, the 2007 revised document strengthened the emphasis on the CEDU as a learning-centered organization and more clearly articulated the CEDU's commitment to a constructivist approach to learning, and to the lifelong learning of its members. The original organizing theme, "Teachers as professional practitioners," was retained.

All elements of the original document were reviewed by the new committee. An analysis of the content was combined with consideration of progress made since the original framework was prepared. The original version of the 2000 document delineated three levels (level one, level two and level three) corresponding to students in schools, CEDU candidates, and faculty members respectively. In the current document, learning is seen as a continuous lifelong process for all; thus, the levels have been removed.

As the 2007 Conceptual Framework was developed, a focus was maintained on continuing to strengthen the co-constructivist learning and learning-centered approaches. The wording of the Conceptual Framework elements was carefully prepared to encompass the terms of these approaches. Hence, words such as " learners", "learning experiences", "co-construct", "professional growth", and "self-evaluation" have been used to denote the evolving changes at the CEDU from a more traditional teaching of passive learners to a learners' community in which all members contributes to the learning process.

The comprehensive revision of the 2000 Conceptual Framework compressed the original twelve elements into nine. The literature was examined to provide support for the decisions made, and has been cited in the longer descriptions of the elements that are included towards the end of the new document. All elements are now structured in a consistent format of element definition, learning experiences, and expectations.

Table 1 presents the original 2000 Conceptual Framework's elements and the revised 2007 Conceptual Framework elements. The changes were made as follows:

The 2000 Conceptual Framework element # 3 "Inquiry" is now included in the 2007 Conceptual Framework element # 4 "Teaching and learning" and in element # 1 "Reflection and Professional Growth".

"Critical Thinking" is now incorporated in "Teaching and Learning".

"Collaborative Learning", "Community" and "Ethics" are grouped under # 5 "Community and Ethics".

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"Meaningful Field Experiences" is included in "Planning for Teaching and Learning".

"Performance-Based Assessment" is incorporated in "Authentic Assessment".

Table 1- The original Conceptual Framework elements (2000) and those developed in 2007

2000 CF Elements

2007 CF Elements

Reflection

Knowledge

Inquiry

Critical Thinking

Collaborative Learning

Community

Individual Differences/Diversity

Communication

Technology

Ethics

Meaningful Field Experiences

Performance-Based Assessment

Reflection and Professional Growth

Meaningful Knowledge

Diversity and Individual Differences

Planning for Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning

Communication

Technology

Community and Ethics

Authentic Assessment

The 2007 Conceptual Framework and the Master's Program

In 2007, the University approved the establishment of a Master of Education degree (M. Ed.) by the CEDU. The 2007 Conceptual Framework will serve as a frame of reference to the new Master of Education program thus adhering to the same vision, mission, the five key endeavors expressed in the 2007 Conceptual Framework, and the values and beliefs of the UAE culture. The M. Ed. program will incorporate the learning-centered approach with a modification of the theme to indicate "Educators as professional practitioners" to accommodate other educational professionals. In addition, the candidates in the M. Ed. program are expected to be positively involved in their learning processes and become self-directed learners who can construct their knowledge, develop their skills and dispositions and transfer these competencies to their professions. Guided by the learning-centered approach expressed in the 2007 Conceptual Framework document, M. Ed. candidates are expected to become life-long learners who will continue their learning beyond their formal education programs. Courses in the M.Ed. program will be outcomes-based driven and the revised 9 elements will be mapped to the M.Ed. courses which will be implemented in the tasks, exams and all activities in order to ensure the consistency of the CEDU assessment system.

Introduction to the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU)

The United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) was the first national university in the history of public higher education in the United Arab Emirates. It was established in 1976 and was envisioned that the university should become a federal institution with an Arab-Islamic identity, and with a focus on intellect, culture, and science. Since its establishment, the University has given high priority to the development of its academic programs and curricula responding to the UAE's societal needs and aspirations. It has done this while keeping pace with international academic developments and trends and while preserving the values, policies and strategies of the nation. More recently, as part of its strategic plan, [1] UAEU has set as a goal to become an internationally-recognized, research-intensive university.

Since its establishment in 1976, the UAEU has witnessed a comprehensive reform and progress in its colleges and programs. It works on developing its programs according to the highest international academic standards. When the UAE University started in 1977, it consisted only of 4 Colleges; College of Humanities and Social Sciences (known then as the College of Arts), College of Science, College of Education, and College of Business and Economics (known then as the College of Political Sciences and Economics). In 1978, the College of Law (known then as the College of Shariaa & Law) was established; in 1980, the College of Engineering and the College of Food and Agriculture (known then as College of Agriculture Sciences) was established. In 1986, the College of Medicine and Health Sciences was established; in the year 2001, the College of Information Technology was established; and the College of Shariaa & Islamic Studies was established in 2006.

UAEU VISION, MISSION AND CORE VALUES

UAEU Vision

The United Arab Emirates University will be an internationally distinguished comprehensive research university. 

While adhering to UAE values, it will become a world-class center for applied research, national and international outreach, innovation and outcome-based learning. 

It will ensure the quality of all programs and services through international accreditation and external quality assurance reviews. [2] 

UAEU Mission

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As the UAE's first and most comprehensive residential university, the United Arab Emirates University is committed to excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and service to the nation and beyond. 

Through a student-centered educational experience, the University develops the intellectual, practical, creative and leadership abilities of the nation's men and women while enhancing cultural, social and economic growth. [3] 

Core Values of the UAEU

1. National Values, Heritage and culture

The University respects the nation's rich heritage and values, and seeks to participate proactively in the preservation, development and sustainability of its culture.

2. Ethical behavior

The University is committed to the highest and strictest guiding principles of ethical behavior. It pledges to operate with transparency, consistency, openness, integrity, honesty, and fairness.

3. Collaboration

The University values a common commitment to achieving the institution's goals, and dedication to teamwork and collaboration that transcends individual concerns.

4. Creativity

The University values creative thinking, expression and innovation.

5. Excellence

The University values continuous quality improvement and provision of highest quality programs and services to our stakeholders.

6. Knowledge

The University is committed to playing a leading role in creating, extending and disseminating knowledge through its focus on learning, research and problem solving.

7. Responsibility and accountability

The University exercises careful stewardship of its financial, human, capital and intellectual resources. This is achieved when faculty, staff, and students take responsibility for upholding the full scope of these values and are held accountable for their actions.

A Brief Introduction to the UAEU, College of Education

The College of Education (CEDU) was established in 1977. It is considered one of the leading colleges in the United Arab Emirates University and is highly regarded and acknowledged by the education community and society at large. Its importance rests on its mission and goals that positively influence various domains in the UAE society. In recent years the CEDU has maintained its commitment to continuous development, particularly in the field of teacher education.

The CEDU consists of four departments: the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, the Department of Foundations of Education, the Department of Special Education and the Department of Physical Education. The college offers four teacher programs: Early Childhood Education Program, Elementary Education Program, Special Education Program and the Professional Diploma in Teaching.

CEDU's Masters' Degree (M.Ed.) program admitted its first cohort in the fall semester 2008. Masters' Degree candidates can focus on one of three concentrations: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, and Special Education.

3. The UAEU College of Education Vision and Mission

In harmony with the vision, mission and core values of the UAEU, the CEDU has formulated its guiding statements. These statements follow:

3.1 Vision

The College of Education aspires to strengthen its innovative leadership as a center of academic excellence in the region. It is committed to provide a learning-centered environment to prepare teachers who will demonstrate knowledge, skills and professional dispositions in accordance with internationally recognized teacher education standards.

3.2 Mission

The Mission of the College of Education is to facilitate the continuous improvement of education in the UAE through active and collaborative national and international partnerships. The College provides a learning-centered environment that promotes excellence in teacher education, research and scholarship, community service and program development, and active participation in policy development.

4. Implementation of the Conceptual Framework

The vision and mission of the CEDU are reflected in five key endeavors: teacher education, research and scholarship, community service, program development, and policy development. The CEDU ensures that its responsibilities are met in each area. First, teacher education is a priority. The CEDU provides a learning centered environment where learning opportunities are maximized. Second, research and scholarship are fundamental to the continuous improvement of teacher education. Third, community service is an integral component of CEDU practice. The CEDU works closely with the community to make significant improvement in education in the UAE. Fourth, the CEDU offers programs that are planned, developed and implemented in response to the needs and aspirations of the community. Fifth, public policy is developed in partnership with other agencies in the educational community. The key endeavors of the CEDU are further outlined below:

Teacher Education. Preparing highly competent educational professionals is the centerpiece of the CEDU mission. As faculty members and candidates co-construct learning experiences at the CEDU, candidates become reflective professional practitioners who proactively respond to challenges through ethical inquiry. Candidates learn to continually examine and build knowledge about learners, curriculum content, the application of technology, and the contexts in which teaching and learning occur. Finally, candidates increase their ability to recognize and respond to the rapid changes that characterize local and global arenas.

Research and Scholarship. In order to enhance the quality of teaching and learning, faculty members are involved in educational research and scholarly activities at local, national, and international levels. Candidates are also encouraged to be involved in research.

Community Service. Faculty members promote the continuous improvement of education at all levels in the UAE through community service. Working with a variety of community partnerships and alliances, faculty members contribute to the generation of new knowledge and its practical application.

Program Development. Faculty members participate in program development, implementation, improvement and evaluation at all levels of the education community.

Policy Development. Faculty members provide dynamic and useful contributions to the formulation and implementation of public policy in education. They participate in higher commissions, committees and working groups established for the purposes of analysis, development and/or review of educational policy. Faculty members also prepare educational leaders who in turn participate in the making of public educational policy.

5. The Revised CEDU Conceptual Framework

It is true that we are all products of the past and what we have accomplished is built upon the efforts of those who preceded us. This is particularly pertinent to the UAEU which continues to build on strong traditions of past accomplishments. For example, the CEDU is the first college outside the United States to be granted an international recognition by the Center for Quality Assurance in International Education (CQAIE) applying standards of the Washington-based National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

In 2000, the CEDU began to develop its first Conceptual Framework. The beliefs and values of the faculty were embedded in the Conceptual Framework, as were the most recent developments in the education field. International standards of INTASC, NCATE and the standards of specialty organizations were examined. These standards were used as guides for translating the vision and mission into the structure of programs and systems both within the University and between the CEDU and K-12 schools and the Ministry of Education. Thus, the CEDU Conceptual Framework is informed by the UAE context, values and beliefs and by the internationally recognized standards of leading teacher education professional organizations.

Initial work by CEDU faculty members on the Conceptual Framework in January 2000 adopted "Teachers as Professional Practitioners" as the organizing theme. In 2006, the Conceptual Framework was revised to respond to new developments in teacher education in general, and in learning in particular. This revision was guided by two major considerations. The first of these has been the development of the concept of a learning-centered approach to teaching and learning at the CEDU.

Second, the results of the implementation of the 12 elements of the Conceptual Framework during the past five years have been evaluated. The elements have been revised and amended to reflect the achievements made and work still to be undertaken, and to include concepts related to a learning-centered approach.

The rationale for incorporating learning-centered education as a central theme in the education of teachers as professional practitioners at UAEU and a description of the revised elements of the Conceptual Framework will be provided in the next two sections of this document.

5. 1 The Rationale for the Development of a New Philosophy: The Learning-centered Approach

The CEDU has adopted a constructivist learning-centered approach to teacher education programs. Education in the UAE has traditionally relied upon didactic, formal approaches to learning with a heavy emphasis on the transmission of knowledge, memorization, and rote learning. As the UAEU prepares to lead the region's education sector through the 21st century, changes were inevitable so that Emirati citizens can continue to cope living in a contemporary global environment. In order to decenter from the traditional approaches to education, new and innovative concepts have been implemented since the initial Conceptual Framework was developed. As part of the revision of the original Conceptual Framework, it has been decided that the learning-centered approach that has been developed over the last five years at the CEDU should be clearly articulated. These approaches are concerned with learning processes and a learner who values the UAE culture and beliefs, and CEDU's vision for teacher education.

5.2 The learning-centered approach

The term "learning-centered education" was coined as attempts were made to put "learning" as opposed to "teaching" at the center of the educational enterprise. Clear behavioral objectives and learning contracts were developed so that candidates could understand exactly what they would be studying and should achieve. During the 1970s and 1980s, competency-based education and mastery learning were deemed necessary components of the learning-centered approach.

More recently, an interest in assessment has resulted in the development of learning outcomes as a further refinement of the approach. Learning-centered teacher education aims to foster candidates' learning by placing the learning process at the center of all organizational considerations.

The CEDU is continuing to implement a learning centered educational approach. One goal for the CEDU is that all programs and courses should have clear goals and measurable learning outcomes, and directly involve learners in activities that lead to deep understanding of content through the development of skills that are readily transferable to the profession of teaching. A second goal is to prepare self-aware (Blumberg, 2006; Weimer, 2002), self-directed and self-regulated learners who continue learning beyond their formal education (McCombs, 2002; McCombs and Pierce, 1999). A third goal of the CEDU's learning-centered teacher education is to promote what Kurfiss (1998) identifies as critical thinking skills.

While a learning-centered approach focuses on learning processes, the CEDU also recognizes that its learners - faculty members and candidates - are important. They face a mobile and diverse "complex, high-tech, and fast-changing world" (Wald & Castleberry, 2000, p.4). To engage learners in learning processes that will enable them to keep pace with rapid global changes and to be professional practitioners in the 21st century, the CEDU favors the use of a constructivist approach to learning. Constructivism focuses on the learners as active participants in knowledge construction. Within the constructivist approach, learners build on prior knowledge, their heritage, experiences, perspectives, backgrounds, talents, interests, capacities and needs (McCombs & Whisler, 1997). The constructivist learning approach at CEDU also includes what Vygotsky (1986) describes as social constructivism in which, as Kim (2001) explains, learning is seen as a social process par excellence.

The original CEDU Conceptual Framework had "Teachers as professional practitioners" as its central theme. The ongoing development and implementation of the CEDU's learning-centered philosophy, with its constructivist and active learning approaches, continues to support this theme.

6. Elements of the Conceptual Framework

The Conceptual Framework is derived from experience and knowledge of education in the UAE and from the internationally recognized standards of leading professional teacher education organizations. The elements of the conceptual framework are built around the central theme of "Teachers as professional practitioners".

Each element of the Conceptual Framework is listed below. A brief definition of each element precedes a more detailed description which includes support from the literature review as well as the work undertaken by faculty members and candidates. Finally, each element describes the knowledge, skills and dispositions that are expected to be our graduates' outcomes.

6.1 Reflection and Professional Growth:

At CEDU, reflection is seen as an important component of professional growth. Reflection is defined as a process of purposeful thinking in both teaching and learning. Reflection entails at all examining and re-examining one's work at all the stages: the initial, middle and the final stage of the work (Schön, 1983). Zeichner and Liston (1996) holds a belief that reflective practice separates educators from technicians.

Reflection calls upon higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis, making connections with previous experiences, and evaluation. When reflection is done in a systematic and disciplined way, it should become a lifelong habit of mind (Costa & Kallick, 2000) leading to professional growth. The advantages of this habit are that candidates become better at problem solving, examining new issues, proposing solutions, deriving their own notions, enabling them to make decisions after examining the issues. Reflection is fostered by allocating ample time, creating learning opportunities for evaluation and learning, respecting others' perspectives, allowing for alternatives and by guiding candidates in their tasks. The habit of reflection prevents mindless, passive and/or unexamined thinking. Faculty members should provide candidates with ample opportunities to reflect on their experiences, learning processes and professional practices.

CEDU graduates are reflective practitioners who continually examine and evaluate the effects of their choices and actions on themselves and others, and who actively seek opportunities for professional growth.

6.2 Meaningful Knowledge:

To teach effectively, several forms of knowledge are required. These forms include subject content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. Subject content knowledge includes in-depth knowledge of the content that is to be taught. Pedagogical content knowledge enables a teacher to deploy different strategies to make a subject comprehensible to others (Hausfather, 2001; Schulman 1986) and to ensure that all learners can learn Professional content knowledge includes an understanding of the educational context, the culture of the school, the family, the community at large, and knowledge of the learners' characteristics (Darling-Hammond, Wise and Klein, 1995).

CEDU candidates build on their prior knowledge, modify it and expand it in order to achieve deep understanding and optimal learning (Leinhardt, 1992). CEDU candidates are provided with opportunities to co-construct, with faculty members and other candidates, multiple forms of knowledge and thereby build meaningful knowledge that would enable them to work effectively.

CEDU graduates continually construct and reconstruct their knowledge in meaningful ways. They are expected to use the multiple forms of meaningful knowledge they have acquired to help all learners learn.

6.3 Diversity and Individual Differences:

Diversity refers to the reality of differences in human characteristics. The concept of diversity encompasses mutual respect, equity and acceptance. Nieto (2004) argues that a healthy learner and learning-centered community where everyone's unique contributions are recognized and appreciated should be fostered in the belief that all learners have the ability to learn.

The CEDU prepares candidates to accommodate all learners with respect to their differences, strengths and needs. This is achieved by fostering a caring and respectful climate where everybody is included in the community of learners. Within such a climate, differences are celebrated and a wide range of opportunities and choices are provided for learning.

In addition, appreciation of diversity is encouraged through implementing different learning and teaching strategies, encouraging multiple and authentic ways of learning, valuing individual contributions and recognizing multiple perspectives (Tomlinson, 1999, 2003; Jetty, 2000). The social aspect of knowledge is exemplified in classrooms where successful interactions are taking place and individual and collaborative contributions are valued. In such environments, all learners are encouraged to seek learning opportunity according to their pace, learning styles and cultural or linguistic contexts.

CEDU graduates have knowledge, skills and dispositions to respond effectively to students' differences and be able to provide learning experiences that are tailored to individuals' strengths, interests and needs in order to ensure that all learners can learn.

6.4 Planning for Teaching and Learning:

Planning for teaching and learning involves making complex decisions about a multitude of competing issues. The planning challenge includes understanding: the social, political, cultural and intellectual basis of education; current and past views and paradigms that have shaped the curriculum; the present context; the integration of technology in teaching and learning; and the building of a vision for the future (Miles, & Louis, 1990). Planning also includes a research and knowledge base including curriculum goals; and systems for the assessment, analysis, evaluation, and review of learning. The learning-centered approach to planning provided by the CEDU emphasizes a foundation of pedagogical learner knowledge (Grimmett & MacKinnon, 1992) which involves sensitive inquiry and understanding of students' different characteristics (Darling-Hammond, 1998). Plans for teaching and learning also include provision for motivating students and for the development of collaborative practices and relationships that enhance learning. Orenstein and Hunkins (2004) summarize planning for teaching and learning as focusing on three factors: processes, programs and students.

CEDU graduates are able to select and create appropriate learning experiences based upon the principles of effective instruction, both as individuals and team members. They can evaluate, adapt and incorporate a variety of materials to enhance learning.

6.5 Teaching and Learning:

The CEDU views its candidates and faculty members as lifelong learners who are consistently developing and applying their skills in a continuously changing world. To this end, the CEDU prepares its candidates to be actively engaged in learning-centered environments. These environments provide a variety of what Eisner (1985) describes as meaningful and challenging experiences and opportunities in order to enhance learning, and they also help candidates become independent scholars. In the spirit of adopting a constructivist learning-centered approach, the CEDU focuses on preparing its candidates to place value on higher order thinking skills such as those referred to by Zeichner & Liston (1996) and Bruner (1990) as reflection, inquiry and critical thinking.

In order to enhance teaching and learning, faculty members at the CEDU engage in what Shulman (2000) calls "scholarly teaching" and "scholarship of teaching." Their professional practice of scholarly teaching is demonstrated through their thoughtful selection of ideas and cases, the development and implementation of multiple strategies for enhancing learning, and the modeling of wise practice (Goodfellow, 2001) in the classroom. In pursuing the scholarship of teaching, faculty members share, reflect and exchange ideas and experiences with colleagues and candidates within the College and across other disciplines. They undertake research into learning within university classes and with candidates during field experiences. Faculty members also engage in peer evaluation of teaching and research to ensure that high standards are maintained. CEDU graduates are expected to use a wide variety of teaching methods to help all students to become lifelong learners who reflect, inquire, and think critically.

CEDU graduates are life-long learners with the knowledge and skills necessary to use a variety of teaching and learning strategies to engage students in active learning opportunities that promote the development of critical thinking and problem solving.

6.6 Communication:

Good communication is the means by which effective teaching takes place. Effective two-way communication makes learning successful (Wald, & Castleberry, 2000), especially if a variety of written, verbal and non-verbal methods are used. CEDU faculty members use effective communication skills in all their interaction with candidates. They also help develop CEDU candidates' abilities to effectively communicate with their prospective students. The CEDU is committed to preparing candidates who are able to use communication skills to help all students learn.

With well-developed written, verbal and non-verbal communication skills, CEDU candidates engage in rich multicultural learning experiences, work collaboratively with others in many contexts, compare perspectives, beliefs and world views, and explore meaningful experiences in diverse communities. CEDU candidates develop their own abilities and help their students to develop a range of communication skills.

Communication skills are developed and practiced by CEDU faculty members and candidates in all aspects of curriculum, assessment, classroom environment, field experiences, and in interaction with the larger community.

CEDU graduates know how to apply effective communication techniques to foster active inquiry, creative and innovative thinking, collaboration, and supportive interaction inside and outside the classroom.

6.7 Technology

In a learning-centered approach, technology is best described as a partner in the education of all learners. It adds depth and breadth to content and adds to the quality of human endeavors (Jonassen, Beisner & Yacci, 1993). Technology should be used as a vehicle to support knowledge construction, learning-by-doing and learning-by-reflecting (Jonassen, Peck, & Wilson, 1999).

At the CEDU, integration of technology in teaching and learning has become a major component of all programs. Faculty and candidates at CEDU are committed to using technology in thoughtful, purposeful, and appropriate ways. CEDU candidates use technology to work collaboratively with others, compare perspectives, search for information and solve problems.

CEDU candidates are prepared to use technology as one of many pedagogical tools to facilitate learning for all. Technology is integrated throughout the CEDU practices and programs and is used in interactions with the wider community.

CEDU graduates know how to use a variety of technological tools to foster reflection, active inquiry, creative and innovative thinking, collaboration, and supportive community interactions. Candidates are prepared to utilize technology to facilitate learning for all.

6.8 Community and Ethics

The CEDU is a professional learning community consisting of faculty members, candidates, families, the UAE society and the global educational communities. Members of the CEDU learning community share what Wald and Castleberry (2000) calls common goals and values which can provide a framework for the College that focuses on teaching and learning within a learning-centered environment. Collaborative learning is a cornerstone of the CEDU learning community, and synergies are created by the shared focus brought to the institution by faculty members from many parts of the world, with varied cultural backgrounds, roles and aspirations. The intermingling factor such as faculty members' skills, the knowledge of the UAE Islamic culture contributed by candidates and the local community, and the expertise and wisdom of colleagues from the global education community, the CEDU is well placed to continue to enrich its knowledge base through continuing collaborative effort and inquiry.

A learning-centered community attends to the well-being of its members. The CEDU endeavors to ensure those faculty members and candidates respect and advocate personal integrity and other related values, such as fairness, honesty, professional ethics, and responsibility towards collegiality, community, and their own learning. In addition, it is considered that educators have a moral obligation to practice nurturing pedagogy (Goodlad, 1984) with an ethic of care which recognizes that teaching has an essentially moral purpose in the sense that it is always concerned with the good of its students (Noddings, 1987). In addition, CEDU candidates are prepared to build meaningful relationships with and among their students and create a learning environment that values fairness, promotes positive classroom behavior and supports learning (Schaps, 2003). Candidates can design their classroom environment in an inviting way to help all students learn, behave well and feel safe. Candidates can achieve this by fostering cooperation among members, acceptance of individual differences, and teaching responsibility to the group.

Based upon the Emirati, Arab and Islamic cultures and values and influenced by the professional ethics of teaching, CEDU candidates will assist in creating positive learning communities that involve all learners in the learning processes.

CEDU graduates apply their understanding of individual and group dynamics, fairness, motivation and behavior to create positive communities of learners based on mutual respect that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation for all participants. Graduates' involvement in learning communities is in accordance with the ethics of the profession and the Emirati, Arab, and Islamic values and principles.

6.9 Authentic assessment

Assessment at CEDU is an ongoing process with the ultimate aim of ensuring progress toward goals and promoting change, rather than merely to measure change. The process of authentic assessment allows faculty members and candidates to reexamine performance, recheck understandings, and modify plans accordingly let also allows them to make necessary adjustments in order to meet outcomes and goals that relate to teaching and learning. Fair assessment is a key professional skill that allows faculty members and candidates to assess for learning and for guiding classroom practice (Assessment Reform Group, 2002). Assessment, therefore, is a crucial aspect in planning, learning experiences and teaching practices/methods.

A performance-based assessment is the primary focus for CEDU. The choice of performance-based assessment is closely aligned with the CEDU's conceptual framework, its learning-centered philosophy, and its course outcomes. Two tools of performance-based assessment are course tasks and portfolios. These are used to provide candidates with appropriate feedback and opportunities reflect, modify and build on their work (formative assessment). The two tools are also used to measure the quality of candidates' work (summative assessment), and ultimately tie it to "real world consequences" (Wiggins, 1998; p. 39). In other words, candidates' efforts in tasks must have an application value. In addition, the CEDU fosters self assessment because it allows candidates to examine their own work and become independent and self-motivated learners, thus supporting what Schön (1987) termed reflection on and in action.

Upon completion of their programs, CEDU candidates will be able to carry out varied types of authentic formative and summative authentic assessment. Candidates will be able to administer performance-based assessment for the purpose of determining the progress of learners, and to help plan for teaching. Additionally, all candidates will have the ability of self-assessment in order to build on and/or modify their own teaching methods.

CEDU graduates value fair and authentic assessment as a means to learning itself rather than as the ends of the learning process. They use formal and informal performance-based assessment techniques to evaluate and ensure the continuous development of their students.

7. The CEDU's assessment system

The CEDU, as a professional community of teacher educators, believes that its assessment system should:

ensure that candidates graduate from their programs with the skills, knowledge and dispositions to be successful professionals who are critical thinkers, and self-directed, self-aware and self-regulated lifelong learners;

inform and support candidates about their progress through their programs;

enhance candidates learning and performance; and

monitor and inform revision and improvement of courses and programs to ensure that the CEDU is at the forefront of teacher education.

The CEDU assessment system is operationalized at three levels: the assessment of individual candidates, program assessment and assessment of the CEDU as a unit. An overview of each level will be provided next; for a more detailed account, please read "Standard 2: Assessment and Evaluation System Report, 2008".

Candidate assessment

Candidates who apply to register at the UAEU are screened at the point of entry to the University General Requirements Unit (UGRU) with their High School Diploma and Common English Proficiency Assessment (CEPA) scores. Those who are successful proceed through three transition points to graduation as teachers. Assessment data are collected by UGRU and then in the CEDU Candidate Assessment Database as candidates progress through their programs. The assessment data are used to fulfill the CEDU's requirements, outlined from a) to d) above.

CEDU program assessment

The goals of all CEDU programs encompass the CEDU Conceptual Framework elements as well as appropriate international professional standards. In order to ensure that the Conceptual Framework elements were clearly visible in each program, at least one Conceptual Framework element was mapped to each course. The Conceptual Framework elements allocated to each course are assessed specifically in two performance-based tasks. In addition, assessment data from the Advising Unit, the courses within the CEDU programs, and the content and professional examinations are reported by faculty members to the Candidate Assessment Database. The raw data are collated, aggregated and disaggregated by the Assessment Unit to provide meaningful information about courses and programs. This information is then used to inform programs for review and improvement.

Assessment of the CEDU as a unit

Six accreditation committees in the CEDU meet regularly to ensure that teaching, planning, budget, personnel and facilities functions are carried out. The Dean, who reports to the College Council, oversees the work of the six committees. Consisting of faculty members from each department, a representative from the Advising Unit, and the CEDU statistician, the Standard 2 Assessment Committee is responsible for collecting and analyzing data on each candidate's performance, each program, and the unit as a whole.

In addition to the regular analysis of program and candidate data, the CEDU also provides annual reports to the Academic Advisory Board and retains an expert Quality Assurance Advisor.

Alignment of Program Outcomes and the Revised Conceptual Framework Elements

The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) standards and current educational theories and practices have informed the revision and reconfiguration of the CEDU Conceptual Framework elements. Further measures now need to be taken in order to ensure that program goals and course outcomes in the newly redefined programs are aligned with the revised elements. In addition, professional standards used in specific programs (such as those of the Council for Exceptional Children in Special Education) need to be checked for currency, revised where necessary, and included where applicable. The measures involved the following stages for each program.

Re-alignment of applicable professional standards to the nine Conceptual Framework elements. If specific professional standards are not already addressed in the CEDU Conceptual Framework elements, the standards will need to be included in program goals. .

Preparation of a program-specific map showing where the relevant revised Conceptual Framework elements and the professional standards will be taught and assessed in each course. Attention is needed to be given to the avoidance of unnecessary replication of content and assessments.

Readjustment of course learning outcomes to reflect the revised Conceptual Framework elements and the SPA outcomes.

Modification of course assessment tasks to measure the adjusted learning outcomes.

Mapping of the learning outcomes that reflect the Conceptual Framework elements onto a CEDU-wide template to demonstrate and double-check that each element is being addressed and assessed