The School of Education (SoE) has undergone significant changes in the last four years as the numbers of faculty, staff and candidates have sharply increased. As we evolve, we continually review and reevaluate our programs and our vision for the future. This conceptual framework represents over two year’s work with the Professional Education Unit (PEU), which includes faculty from the School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences.
In April 2002, the California Commission for Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) Committee on Accreditation (COA) completed a site visit in the SoE, and approved all of the existing credential programs. Not long after that, in June 2002, a faculty task force, representing each of the program areas in the PEU, began meeting to discuss the mission and vision of the unit and to develop a draft conceptual framework. This committee met five times during that summer to discuss, explore and articulate in writing a shared vision for the unit. In September, at the SoE faculty retreat, the committee shared ideas that were discussed over the summer with the entire faculty. Then, during the 2002-03 academic year, the faculty reviewed several drafts and provided valuable input, and major revisions were completed. The first complete version of the conceptual framework was accompanied by the preconditions and sent to NCATE in February 2003. This version was not accepted by the BOE, and was returned to us with suggestions for revisions. The weakest portion of that document was the assessment system. Recognizing the unit’s lack of a structure for a comprehensive system, additional resources were directed to this effort. The Dean hired an assessment specialist and provided her with the necessary resources to design, develop, and implement an assessment system for the unit. In May 2003, the assessment specialist started her work with the second NCATE faculty committee assigned to coordinate future NCATE initiatives. Several meetings with the second NCATE committee were held that summer, drafts were distributed to PEU faculty for comments, and the second version of the conceptual framework was approved by the BOE in October 2003. Throughout the fall semester, the PEU faculty had several meetings to discuss the revised conceptual framework, and the PEU faculty adopted the final version in December 2003. Also, during 2003, the Special Education faculty began to reconfigure their programs in an effort to achieve approval from the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). In May 2004, USD was notified that their Special Education programs are now “nationally recognized” by CEC.
Subsequently, at several faculty meetings in spring 2004, the full faculty discussed the conceptual framework and the comprehensive assessment system. Collectively, they discussed and made decisions about unit dispositions, the integration of technology, inclusion of the unit outcomes and alignment to professional standards on syllabi, and admissions qualifications (see faculty meeting minutes in Document Room).
This document begins with an overview of the University of San Diego’s mission and a description of both the mission and the vision of the Professional Education Unit. Next, the Professional Education Unit’s central theme, “a learning community collaboratively engaged in the pursuit of professional competence,” is explained. This shared vision for the unit is described and supported by a knowledge base that reflects the views of the faculty. The document then describes the unit and candidate outcomes: 1) Academic excellence, critical inquiry, and reflection; 2) Community and service; 3) Ethics, values and diversity. Faculty in the unit are committed to the preparation of educational leaders who exemplify “ACE”, because it describes what they consider to be an expert in the field of education. Each of these three major unit candidate outcomes and their related knowledge base is described in some detail. Finally, the document concludes with a list of candidate dispositions that are common to all programs in the unit.
The Mission of the University of San Diego
“The University of San Diego is a Roman Catholic institution committed to advancing academic excellence, expanding liberal and professional knowledge, creating a diverse and inclusive community, and preparing leaders dedicated to ethical conduct and compassionate service.” http://www.sandiego.edu/about/mission_and_vision.php
The goals of the University are consistent with, and flow from, its mission as a Catholic liberal arts institution. Principles of academic excellence, commitment to values, respect for individual dignity, and holism and catholicity are fundamental institutional values, and they reflect the University’s goal of fostering a learning environment that is characterized by diversity, compassion, and regard for all people.
The Mission of USD’s Professional Education Unit
The mission of USD’s Professional Education Unit is derived from that of the University of
San Diego. We share a commitment to principles associated with respect for human dignity. To this end, faculty, candidates, and staff are dedicated to the pursuit of truth, academic excellence, and a community enriched by a diversity of viewpoints. This commitment manifests itself in a dedication to provide and instill consistent leadership regarding issues of social justice.
As a result, faculty in the unit infuse all programs and course offerings with values, concepts, and themes that help students become knowledgeable, reflective, ethical, and committed leaders and advocates who improve the lives of others. We believe in education for service that is rooted in a vision of enhancing dignity and quality of life. To achieve this goal, committed professionals must focus on ethical perspectives in all aspects of their lives. Faculty in the unit seek to impart this mission to candidates in the following ways:
- Faculty are responsible for ensuring that candidates obtain the professional knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need for effective leadership in a diverse society.
- Both faculty and candidates strive to become life-long learners engaged in critical inquiry and reflection and dedicated to both academic excellence and ethical and professional development.
- Faculty value professional and community service, and they encourage candidates to engage in it.
- Faculty prepare candidates to act ethically and to accept responsibility for the society in which they live, emphasizing collaborative advocacy that transforms the schools and agencies they serve.
The Vision of USD’s Professional Education Unit
Our vision is derived from the University of San Diego’s mission statement. We carry out the University’s mission through our emphasis on spirituality. Although this word can be linked to specific religious traditions, we use it more inclusively to refer to the inner spirit or philosophical core that provides each of us with our deepest orientation to life. Spirituality offers answers to the questions of why we do this work, what purposes it serves, and what we hope to accomplish by it. By including spirituality as the foundation of our vision, we signal that work connects both our own and our candidates’ deepest aspirations as human beings.
Our spiritual vision is derived from the Roman Catholic emphasis on dignity. We hold a reverent view of both the candidates we serve and the clients they serve when they leave us. All human beings are endowed with dignity and integrity, and deserve to live in an inclusive world of peace and justice; hence, we view collaborative advocacy as essential to work in the serving professions. Our vocation includes preparing candidates to accept responsibility to serve the society in which they live. We aim to help them gain the skills and courage to honestly and imaginatively confront the difficult challenges they will face. We seek to teach this by modeling leadership, authenticity, respect, compassion, and caring.
Faculty in the University of San Diego’s Professional Education Unit are committed to the pursuit of truth, to academic excellence, and to the advancement of knowledge as we prepare our candidates for positions of leadership in a variety of fields. Therefore, we strive to cultivate a learning community that is collaboratively engaged in creating, challenging, and testing knowledge in the pursuit of professional competence. Differences of opinion are encouraged, and, through a process of critical inquiry and reflection, we have built a shared vision derived from a knowledge base that reflects diverse viewpoints. The realization of this vision is the product of extensive collaboration among faculty, students, and affiliated staff.
This sharing is essential because knowledge within situated learning activities is frequently distributed among participants (Lave, 1993). Reflection that involves communities of learners and professionals is most effective as a public practice, rather than as a private activity (Zeichner, 1994). The School’s theme of “community” is supported by recent scholarship on the benefits of knowledge-based “communities of practice” (Wenger, 1998; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). We support the notion that communities of practice develop knowledge and expertise by allowing and encouraging individuals involved to negotiate meaning together around professional tasks.
The Organizational Theme of USD’s Professional Education Unit
The mission and vision of USD’s Professional Education Unit can best be summarized in this organizational theme: A learning community collaboratively engaged in the pursuit of professional competence. The three key components of this organizational theme can be described as follows:
Faculty, staff, and candidates in the unit come from diverse cultural, social and religious backgrounds, and they seek to build a learning community characterized by the kind of spiritual, intellectual, and emotional vitality that promotes the development of leadership. Faculty aim to connect candidates with what Parker Palmer (Palmer, 1998) calls the “living core” of their lives, while providing knowledge, skills, and dispositions designed to strengthen their capacity to lead.
Central to interactions between and among faculty and candidates is our commitment to acquire knowledge through critical inquiry and collaborative engagement. To this end, faculty engage in a reciprocal process of teaching and learning based on the notion of a community of practice. This commitment helps members of organizations learn with one another through activities that require negotiation. Through social participation, members create meaning about their shared historical and social resources and rules of practice, including how to create, evaluate, and disseminate knowledge related to organizationally valued tasks. The community of practice perspective suggests, “learning is an issue of sustaining the interconnected communities of practice through which an organization knows what it knows and thus becomes effective and valuable as an organization” (Wenger, 1998, p. 8).
Pursuit of Professional Competence
Every program is centered on developing professional competence in all candidates. Professional associations, national accrediting bodies, and state certification agencies provide the programs with specific requirements for preparing ethical, caring, and competent professionals. Courses, field experiences, and internships assess candidates’ abilities to demonstrate the basic knowledge, skills, and dispositions recommended for today’s practicing professionals. Faculty are actively involved in the work of professional organizations and state and national agencies as they continually update their competencies and standards for practice.
Consistent with this organizational theme, candidates in the PEU seek licensure and certification in their areas of expertise. Having been encouraged to form strong commitments to lifelong learning, ethical responsibility, and ongoing professional development, many demonstrate sound identities as practicing professionals, joining professional associations and attending and presenting at local, state, and national conferences. They demonstrate their capabilities as collaborators, as agents of change, and as leaders with varying degrees of impact within the communities they serve.
The Three Major Unit Candidate Outcomes of the Professional Education Unit
Given the mission, vision, and organizational theme of USD’s Professional Education Unit, faculty in the unit are committed to three major candidate outcomes that are represented by the acronym “ACE” and by the graphic identity that follows:
Academic Excellence, Critical Inquiry, and Reflection: Candidates in the unit will demonstrate the knowledge and the ability to represent content accurately by applying effective strategies and techniques in their field of study, by actively engaging in reflective activities, by critically analyzing their practice and by applying higher order thinking skills to a wide array of investigative pursuits.
Community and Service: Candidates in the unit will strive to create and support collaborative learning communities in their classrooms and their professional fields of practice by bridging theory and practice and engaging in community service.
Ethics, Values, and Diversity: Candidates in the unit will understand and adhere to the values and ethical codes of the University, of the schools they work in, and of the professional organizations to which they belong. They will support the creation of inclusive, unified, caring and democratic learning communities that value each individual regardless of background or ability, and they will equitably support student learning and optimal development.
Related to each of these three unit candidate outcomes is a specific knowledge base:
Academic Excellence, Critical Inquiry, and Reflection
The Professional Education Unit strives to develop candidates who master the knowledge and skills for effective practice. The benchmarks used in the Teacher Education program are the thirteen Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs) developed by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) and a fourteenth expectation defined by the unit and related to technology. Program assessments for Special Education are based on 10 CEC standards under which 14 TPE’s fall. Every candidate must know the facts and principles of the subject matter in his/her field of study and must demonstrate mastery of curriculum content related to professional, state, and institutional standards (TPE 1). Faculty foster in candidates the development and elaboration of both general and content-specific learning strategies. Acquisition of basic knowledge is an important beginning step toward achieving academic excellence. However, preservice teacher candidates must also master developmentally appropriate teaching practices in order to make content accessible to their students and successfully engage them in it (TPEs 4, 5, 6). As candidates master requisite knowledge and skills, they develop important dispositions such as valuing the development of students’ critical thinking skills and their ability to solve problems; holding high academic standards for all children; and showing students the significance and relevance of intellectual work for their lived experiences.
It is also important for candidates to learn to apply pedagogical theories, principles, and instructional practices relevant to the comprehensive instruction of English language learners (TPE 7). Indeed, this is an extension of the principle that good teachers must continually learn about all of their students by using valid techniques of assessment (TPEs 2, 8). The crucial process of instructional planning, including the establishment of long and short-term goals for student learning, depends upon this knowledge. So too does the skill of maximizing instructional time through the establishment of procedures for managing routine tasks and transitions (TPEs 8, 9).
Knowledge of students is also a necessary foundation for the creation of a positive classroom environment. This requires mastery of techniques for classroom management, which include the development of rapport with and among students, and the demonstration of caring, respect, and fairness for all students and families (TPE 11). As literature on adult learning attests, academic excellence does not emerge at once, but is learned through increasingly complex stages of understanding. Faculty in the unit recognize that adult learners move in a developmental progression from the “beginning” level of understanding to “developing,” “apprentice,” and “expert” levels of understanding (Wiske, 1998). The goal of a professional school such as ours is to bring candidates to the apprentice level so that they may begin to successfully practice their craft. Having gained entry-level competence and having engaged in reflective practice, they develop the capacity to become experts through additional years of professional induction.
To this end, it is necessary to bring to consciousness learners’ intuitive knowledge that typically impedes the apprehension and appropriation of disciplinary ways of thinking, knowing, and acting (Torff & Sternberg, 2001). The developmental shift in students’ thinking from beginner to apprentice is marked by the transformation of unwarranted theories and intuitive beliefs toward coherent and rich conceptual webs that reflect professional and disciplinary standards (Wiske, 1998). Congruent with the theme of reflection, assessment of such a process cannot be aimed at static measurement of mental schema, but must instead carefully target flexible performances of understanding (Wiske, 1998).
Candidates must also demonstrate their ability to utilize appropriate contemporary technologies in their field of study. Our faculty have embraced advances in technology and they strive to utilize a variety of technologies. Instructional strategies include the use of technologies to access the internet for research purposes, tools for communication, and design and production of courses. For example, in initial and advanced teacher preparation programs information technology is integrated across all courses. Candidates use technology to support teaching and learning in lesson planning, in communication with supervisors and cooperating teachers, for the delivery of instruction, and in their student teaching portfolios. During the student teaching semester, candidates are required to videotape at least one instructional session. Many edit these sessions using Imovies or the equivalent to tell the story of their student teaching experience. Electronic portfolios are an option for the midpoint and final portfolios. The unit has added a Teaching Performance Expectation (TPE), Incorporating Technology, for evaluating student progress in all stages of the program. The Student Teaching Evaluation and the Midpoint and Final Portfolio rubrics require demonstration of basic technology literacy within lessons to support and enhance student learning.
Faculty work to assure that all program candidates develop critical inquiry and reflection capabilities. Critical inquiry is concerned with questioning the self and others in the search for truth, information, or knowledge. In the quest for knowledge, every field is dedicated to clarifying the meanings of “real” and “true” (Martinello & Cook, 1994, p. 11). Faculty in the unit are committed to the pursuit of truth, cultivating this practice in all candidates who are members of the educational community. Faculty support candidates as they develop the disposition of appreciating multiple perspectives and the importance of dialogue in constructing meaning (Richardson, 1996). Further, we believe that the practice of critical inquiry and continuous questioning is vital to the process of cultivating intellectually sound and thoughtful professionals who eagerly delve into “deep learning” and subsequently reconstruct “new truth” as information is gleaned from their studies and field experiences. (Henson, 1996)
Reflection is derived from the social constructivist insight that effective instruction must be responsive to the specific context of learning in which it occurs. Therefore, good teaching must include reflection, because as a social and collaborative process, it must be subject to continuous revision in light of student experiences, interests, and responses to instructional strategies (Burnaford, Fischer, & Hobson, 2001). The unit’s program candidates are provided with opportunities for reflection in their class activities, and field experiences and through their development of formative and summative assignments and projects, such as program portfolios. For example, in the Department of Learning and Teaching, candidates are required to critically analyze their practice using the Teaching for Understanding rubric that is based upon a reflective model (Wiske, 1998). Such critical reflection creates the disposition to be a life-long learner, which supports both professional growth (TPE 13) and commitment to reflection and learning as ongoing processes. It is also crucial for becoming effective and proactive in meeting professional, legal, and ethical obligations of the teaching profession (TPE 12). As action researchers, our candidates are required to apply higher order thinking skills to a wide array of investigative pursuits, ranging from inquiries that impact a single school-aged student to those that have broad and far-reaching implications for national policy or global application.
Over the last two decades, reflection has been shown to be an effective practice for a wide range of professions (Loughran, 2002). One of the keys to effective reflection is the ability to deploy an array of different lenses for viewing the same problem (Schön, 1987). In practice, this necessitates a continuous and recursive cycle of posing questions, engaging in activities, and observing their effects (Smyth, 1992).
Community and Service
As noted earlier, the unit’s attention to community is supported by recent scholarship on the benefits of knowledge-based “communities of practice” (Wenger, 1998; Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Faculty in the unit seek to build learning communities characterized by the kind of spiritual, intellectual, and emotional vitality that promotes the development of professional competence.
Another dimension of community is focused on the dynamic forces present in the life of all groups and the learning that can occur from these interactions with others (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002). In group settings, both in and outside class, candidates have opportunities to reflect on their own experiences by examining both their own behavior and the behavior of groups. It is with this understanding that students learn how to positively impact groups and how to subsequently transfer their learning to their applied professional settings. One of the exemplary ways in which candidates work in groups is through the many service-learning opportunities included in their curriculum.
The University of San Diego has been a national leader in infusing service learning into its curriculum and, in this, members of the professional education unit have played a significant role. While the philosophy of service has deep roots in the Catholic tradition – the biblical story of the Good Samaritan is an example (Erickson & Anderson, 1997) – the modern impetus for combining service with education owes much to the work of John Dewey (1916, 1938) and other progressives such as Kilpatrick (1930) and Counts (1932). Developmental psychologists, including Erikson (1968), Kohlberg (1970), and Piaget (1970), showed the crucial importance of experience and engagement in education. More recently, service learning has been guided by work in experiential education, especially that of Kolb (1984), whose elaboration of the reflective learning cycle of Kurt Lewin has strongly influenced our faculty in planning and implementing service learning activities. Current research has begun to document the positive effects of service on students’ social growth, psychological development, academic learning, and civic engagement (Kraft, 1998). Furthermore, service learning is an effective pedagogical tool for introducing candidates to the centrality of culture in constructing meaning in both their own and their clients’ lives (Erickson & Anderson, 1997).
Research suggests that service-learning opportunities improve students’ academic skills and competencies, contribute to their personal/social development, foster career competencies, and contribute to their sense of community responsibility (Batchelder & Root, 1998). Further, service learning helps develop understanding and empathy for others and appreciation of multicultural values. Additionally, candidates’ sense of civic participation is increased. By integrating service learning activities into our courses, candidates are provided with opportunities to experience various dimensions of the community in new and different ways. Our candidates can then naturally extend these practices into their respective school settings. In the spirit of lifelong learning, candidates and faculty are actively involved in professional organizations. USD is proud of its heritage in that its faculty and candidates have provided leadership and service to their respective professional communities. Their contributions have served to enhance local, state, and national resources available to educators.
Our goal is to instill in all candidates a commitment to professional and community service. A variety of fieldwork components and internships are integral parts of all programs. Activities that permeate the curriculum range from volunteering), to service learning imbedded in coursework, to clinical field experiences and finally to student teaching. It is through service that we foster the principles of social justice, leadership, collective advocacy, and commitment to lifelong learning (Vogelgesang & Astin, 2000). This outcome creates opportunities for significant real world experiences, and it provides an important bridge between theory and practice. All programs in the unit integrate an element of service into their curriculum. This is important, since the careers for which we prepare candidates are service-oriented.
Ethics, Values and Diversity
The unit’s focus on ethics, values, and diversity is derived from the University’s philosophical foundation as a Catholic institution, which is in turn linked to several dispositions expected of the program’s candidates. USD’s mission statement identifies the following major goals: academic excellence, advancement of knowledge, ethical conduct, a values-based education, the dignity of the individual, the holistic growth of students, faculty and staff, and attention to the Catholic identity of the institution.
Values are the principles that we consider worthwhile and that guide our behavior. There are four categories of values that underlie our programs: 1) basic human values, such as freedom and respect for others; 2) general moral values, such as courage and fairness; 3) professional values, such as general responsibility as an educator, specific role responsibilities, and acceptance of consequences; and 4) social and political values, such as participation, sharing, loyalty, and helping others.
In our curriculum, programs, teaching, and student advising, we attempt to implement our values by emulating what R. J. Starratt (1996) refers to as the three ethics: care, justice, and critique. Starratt maintains that these ethics are the three dimensions of the triangle that comprise an ethical organization. We attempt to be an ethical organization by helping students better understand and develop positive personal and communal relationships, professionalism, compassion, service, and community-building. At the same time, we encourage students to ask questions that address issues of equity, diversity, justice, and fairness. These essential elements underpin the values of respect and responsibility (DeRoche & Williams, 2001; The Commission for Ethical and Responsible Student Behavior, 2001).
The outcome of ethics, values, and diversity is played out in the Professional Education Unit in many ways. In each program area, both on campus and on-line, we offer courses that specifically address ethics, values and diversity. At the same time, we weave our values of social justice, respect for human dignity, and collaborative advocacy into our course objectives and course activities. We utilize codes of ethics from the many professional organizations that represent our disciplines.
Ethics, values, and diversity center on the need to help candidates see themselves as moral educators. In other words, we help candidates understand and value the moral nature of teaching, counseling, and administration. They learn to reflect not only upon technical aspects of professional practice, but also upon the ethic of caring (Noddings, 1992; Starratt, 1996). Teaching, counseling, and leadership may all be characterized as essentially “moral crafts” for which a focus on values and ethics is essential in the training of preservice candidates (Tom, 1984).
As research shows, effective educators are those who have the knowledge and skills to provide educational services in a global society of increasingly diverse populations (Banks, 2001; Nieto, 2003). Faculty in the unit are committed to assuring that graduates possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to provide effective educational services to students who are diverse in age, gender, race, ability, ethnicity, nationality, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. All programs require explicit recognition and inclusion of students’ diverse histories, cultures, languages, and abilities. At the same time, it is the task of teachers, counselors, and administrators to build upon the distinctiveness of students in order to create inclusive, unified, caring, and democratic learning communities that value all of their members, regardless of background or ability, and equitably support members’ learning and development (Donaldson, 2001; Freire, 1995; Romo & Salerno, 2000).
The unit’s candidate outcome of ethics, values, and diversity has been further cultivated in the Professional Education Unit through the University’s recent participation in an Irvine Foundation grant program entitled, Creating Cultural Competence. By participating in this grant, the University community has significantly strengthened its valued diversity initiatives.
As members of the USD community improve their diversity and cultural competence, they will work on a variety of tasks, including self assessment and further development of knowledge, skills, and beliefs; reflection on how personal values influence one’s ability to work with others different from one’s self; use of culturally sensitive communication and intervention strategies; and increased advocacy for equity and social justice (Gordon, 1999).
In summary, all candidates in the Professional Education unit are expected to achieve these three unit candidate outcomes: Academic excellence, critical inquiry, and reflection; Community and service; and Ethics, values and diversity. These outcomes are derived from the mission of the University and from both the mission and vision of the Professional Education Unit. In addition, they are grounded in relevant research and theory related to teacher and professional education, and they have been shaped with input from full-time and part-time faculty, candidates, and advisory board members to ensure that they are representative of all stakeholders. Candidates who graduate from the University of San Diego’s Professional Education Unit will complete course work and field experiences that have integrated these outcomes with institutional, state, and professional standards. The final section of this document presents a list of expected candidate dispositions that are derived from the three unit candidate outcomes, and are common to all programs in the unit.
Candidate Dispositions Common to All Programs in USD’s Professional Education Unit
Academic Excellence, Critical Inquiry and Reflection: candidates should demonstrate 1) a belief that all individuals can learn and succeed, and 2) a commitment to reflection and critical inquiry.
Community and service: candidates should demonstrate 1) a willingness to collaborate with peers and members of the educational community, and 2) an appreciation for and willingness to form partnerships with parents/guardians and community agencies that serve children and youth.
Ethics, Values and Diversity: candidates should demonstrate 1) respect for the value of diversity in a democratic society, and 2) a commitment to high professional and ethical standards.
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