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Conceptual Framework: Learning Together

The Conceptual Framework of the College of Education [CoE] is borne of our shared vision: Learning Together, wherein faculty and students acquire knowledge through implementation of a variety of approaches based on a multiplicity of learning theories. Learning occurs through social interaction, interaction with the environment, through knowledge or skills acquired by study, and through exploration and experience. Our holistic pedagogical approach to learning is driven by the 5 dimensions of our conceptual framework; knowledge, instructional strategies, diversity, reflection, and dispositions.

Conceptual Framework

Knowledge

Knowledge is the assimilation and accommodation of the various areas of study in becoming a teacher and an educated person.

There lies in knowledge an intrinsic value that comes with profound understanding, such as the elegant logic in numbers, or the artful arrangement of words that captures the human spirit. It is this beauty that engages the emotions and hence the learner. The intrinsic nature of bodies of knowledge including elaboration and organization of those areas of study are crucial in the development of a teacher. The focus of the content understandings implies attaining a depth of knowledge and this deep understanding is necessary to develop a capability to invent and evaluate concepts in the process of teaching. To achieve a depth of understanding requires the application of thinking processes such as scientific thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking and other forms of reasoning. 

Thinking processes are connected to content knowledge and this process-product connection is reflected through in-depth understandings. Further, the content must be reflected in authentic situations for classroom application. The teacher must have the depth of knowledge which facilitates multiple interpretations of content. Attaining an in-depth authentic knowledge is accomplished through an ongoing process as students and professionals work together toward the goal of expert knowledge. The depth of knowledge acquired empowers the teacher and results in empowering students.

Instructional Strategies

Instructional strategies reflect the art and science of pedagogy. Effective instruction facilitates student learning and provides a foundation for future achievement in the classroom. 

Effective teachers are the instruction leaders in the classroom. Decisions and actions made by teachers are critical to student learning. Instructional leaders should accept responsibility for student learning and exhaust all efforts to facilitate student's progress. Assessment of learning provides the data by which teachers make informed instructional decisions.

Diverse academic disciplines may necessitate unique classroom instructional strategies. CoE faculty employ research-based practices in varied classroom settings and with divers student populations. Faculty embrace the challenges and opportunities at all teaching levels and disciplines. Believing that all students can learn, but not in the same place or in the same way is a critically important premise for instructional leaders. COE faculty support an holistic view of human potential.

Diversity

Diversity is the recognition and acceptance of differences among groups of people and individuals based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and geographical area. 

The CoE recognizes the importance of designing and implementing curricula that supports student teachers' awareness and appreciation of differences that exist in the society at large, and in educational settings. An inclusive approach to education is stressed in coursework and field experiences emphasizing differentiated instruction, working with culturally diverse families, and cooperative learning. The CoE provides classroom and field experiences for prospective educators to grow both professionally and personally, and to acquire the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary for working with heterogeneous people. Candidates are assessed on their ability to work with students form a broad range of diverse groups. These experiences are intended to improve practice and to modify the CoE's programs when necessary.

Reflection

Reflection is integrated into leaning together and professional growth. We promote and encourage our students to become skilled reflective thinkers and devoted self-reflective practitioner. 

Being a reflective thinker is the main dynamic behind learning and an outcome of learning together. Piaget's notion of reflective abstraction is applied in everyday classroom learning as we develop new ideas and make sense of new information. Thinking reflectively implies a willingness to review, reexamine, evaluate and rethink concepts and processes and abstract and refine ideas from learning experience and social interaction. 

An educator is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of his/her choices and actions on others and who actively seeks opportunities to grow professionally. Reflection not only occurs during the technical aspects of teaching – such as planning, teaching, assessing, evaluating, and revising – but encompasses social and ethical considerations. Effective teachers engage in on-going constructive analysis and critical reflection.

Dispositions

Professional attitudes, values, and beliefs demonstrated through both verbal and non-verbal behaviors as educators interact with students, families, colleagues, and in addition to assessing content knowledge and pedagogical skills of pre-service teachers, the CoE identifies, evaluates, and develops students' attitudinal behaviors, or dispositions. Dispositions are the human interface between teaching and student learning and are an increasingly important component of the TE program. How professional educators are disposed toward students, colleagues, administrators, curriculum, families, and communities, directly impacts student learning. Through modeling, curriculum integration, discussions, written documents, actions, and observations, students are expected to internalize the influences of dispositions.

 

 


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