Overview of the Conceptual Framework
The Professional Education Unit at SUNY New Paltz has adopted a conceptual framework for its programs entitled "Caring, Critical and Reflective Professionals Responsive to the Needs of a Diverse Society." This framework was developed throughout the 2001 to 2002 academic year and it was adopted by the Professional Education Unit (PEU) after a careful and thorough review. It originated in a committee charged with developing the framework, but multiple drafts were subjected to comment and revision by the entire faculty in the unit as it was developed. The framework was also reviewed by the Collaborative Council, a body that includes faculty from liberal arts and sciences as well as teachers and administrators from surrounding school districts. The Conceptual Framework identifies six values and commitments that the unit strives to cultivate among its own faculty and staff as well as in the candidates it serves.
- Intellectual Growth
- Appreciation of Human Diversity
- Advocacy for Students
- Democratic Citizenship
Through coursework, field experiences, and clinical practice, the unit aims to prepare, "Caring and Critical Professionals for a Diverse Society" who are committed to
- inquiry (reflection on all aspects of educational practice and participation in educational research);
- intellectual growth (broad knowledge of one's discipline, the liberal arts and sciences, curriculum planning, pedagogy, the social foundations of education, and technology;
- professionalism (collegiality with families, communities and fellow professionals; an ethically informed philosophy; and effectiveness in institutional change);
- appreciation of human diversity (understanding of and sensitivity to differences based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, language, religion, culture and family life that affect learning and development);
- advocacy for students (concern for and understanding of human development, students' rights to equal educational opportunity, and the existing barriers to these in schooling today);
- democratic citizenship (commitment to the educability of all people, to education for active participation in public life, and to equitable and collaborative work with others).
Philosophy, Purposes, Outcomes
The School of Education, the Art Education program, and the Speech and Language Disabilities program (PEU) share a common philosophy that is embodied in the conceptual framework. The conceptual framework builds on a broad vision about the purposes of education:
- The framework presupposes that the fundamental purposes of schooling include preparation for democratic political life, sustaining cultural pluralism, and providing equality of opportunity. These core principles inform the work of the unit and the kinds of education it seeks to cultivate outside the university.
- The framework presupposes that education requires excellence in both the academic preparation of students and in their personal and social development, and it understands these processes as integrally related.
- The framework assumes that teachers' perspectives must include not only academic subject matter, but also the social, cultural, and political context of schools and their students.
- The framework views teachers as autonomous professionals, who have the rights and the responsibilities to carry out their work in critical, creative, and caring ways that transcend institutional requirements.
- The framework assumes that teachers must be equipped to relate effectively and ethically with students, parents, colleagues, and with the community at large.
This vision of education and of the profession of teaching underlies the values and commitments that constitute our conceptual framework. The political, ethical, and personal purposes of schooling are intertwined in how we understand each of the values and commitments.
Mission and Shared Vision
Our conceptual framework contains a mission and vision consistent with that of the regional professional community and SUNY New Paltz as a whole. The framework has incorporated the views and ideals of teachers and administrators in the surrounding communities and it has drawn from faculty from throughout SUNY New Paltz. In its commitment to intellectual and creative growth, democracy and pluralism, the framework complements the mission of the university, and addresses needs in the Mid-Hudson Valley and New York State.
Knowledge Base and Alignment
The knowledge and competencies within the conceptual framework are built on both recent and classic literature in the field of teacher education, educational research, and educational policy. The knowledge base draws on the New York State Education Department standards, the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) Standards, the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBTS), National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) Standards, and discipline-based learning societies, such as the Council of Social Foundations of Education (CSFE). The underlying principles and the particular objectives of the conceptual framework represent a careful integration of state and national standards, educational research and policy, and the particular ideals and resources of the unit.
Dispositions and Competencies
The conceptual framework addresses dispositions and competencies central to good teaching in teacher education programs as in public schools. These dispositions and competencies include a habit of reflection on essential questions of teaching and learning and on the social context of public education as well as one's own educational practice, and a willingness to use this reflection in curriculum planning and teaching. The conceptual framework addresses the need to prepare candidates with the requisite professional, pedagogical, and pedagogical content knowledge and, beyond this, to foster a life-long love of learning, sensitivity to educationally significant difference, collegiality, and the courage to take a stand when necessary.
Commitment to Diversity
The conceptual framework reflects the unit's overarching commitment to recruiting and preparing a diverse candidate population able to educate an increasingly diverse population of public school students. Three elements of the framework (appreciation of human diversity, advocacy for students, and democratic citizenship) speak directly to our commitment to diversity. The conceptual framework addresses our commitment to helping candidates understand the educational significance of difference based on race, gender, class, sexual orientation, disability, language, religion, culture, and family life. Beyond this, the framework speaks to our understanding of the broader implications of a commitment to diversity -- namely, affirmation of the educability of all people, advocacy for students whose educational needs are overlooked, continued pursuit of the goal of equal educational opportunity, and recognition of the fundamental relationship between public education and the responsibilities of democratic citizenship.
One of the pillars of the commitment to "intellectual growth," as expressed in our conceptual framework, is competent use of technology that serves pedagogy. The use of emerging technology in classroom practice is common in educational programs across the unit, and we hope to enable our students to recognize the instructional advantages and limits of emerging technologies. In addition to being able to use technology effectively in teaching and to help students become competent with technology, we express the need for educators to be "thoughtful" about technology in order to ensure that it serves educational aims and not the other way around. An overview of how technologies are being implemented can be found in the Technology Report of the PEU.
Assessment of Candidate Performance
The conceptual framework, "Caring, Critical and Reflective Professionals Responsive to the Needs of a Diverse Society," articulates objectives that are performance based. Assessing candidates' performance ensures that they possess the values and commitments that constitute the aims of the unit. To provide for a systematic and meaningful assessment of candidates across programs, the unit has developed a five-year Unit Assessment Plan (UAP) that reflects the fundamental commitments of our conceptual framework: inquiry, intellectual growth, professionalism, appreciation of human diversity, advocacy for students, and democratic citizenship. The assessment procedures and instruments are grounded in research, respectful of individuals, oriented toward promoting equity and social justice, and reflect an attitude of critical thought about the assessment process itself. As part of the assessment plan, the procedures and instruments will themselves be evaluated for reliability and validity.
Multiple types of assessments evaluating candidate performance, including quantitative and qualitative data, will be collected at the beginning, middle and end of each program to determine program quality. In addition, follow-up data will be collected within 3 years of program completion. Furthermore, data on the assessment system, field experiences and clinical practice, diversity, faculty and unit governance, and resources will be collected and analyzed on a yearly basis. Assessment measures for candidate performance for individual programs have been redesigned to include rubrics that can be used with professional portfolios to enable faculty and candidates to evaluate progress throughout the programs. The varied forms of assessment throughout the unit serve to provide a meaningful evaluation of the performance of our candidates and our programs, in accordance with the commitments identified in our conceptual framework.