Evolution of the Conceptual Framework
The SOLES PEU arrived at its 2004 conceptual framework following a strenuous two-year process involving faculty debate, dialogue, and revisions. Seven years later the framework’s continued relevance for programming and curriculum attests to the thoroughness of that process and soundness of outcome. The ACE acronym, developed in 2004, still guides the work in the PEU. Course learning outcomes continue to be distributed in course syllabi within these three areas. While the framework has not changed, new developments in SOLES and USD and new research have deepened and refined the knowledge base supporting the conceptual framework:
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. (2004).
Academic Excellence, Critical Inquiry, and Reflection
There is today a renewed awareness of the need to use the developmental sciences to prepare candidates to improve student learning (NCATE, 2010). SOLES is increasingly attuned to this need. In 2008 the dean invited all interested faculty members to a special meeting to discuss the importance and relevance of new findings in developmental psychology for the preparation of professionals. Interest expressed by faculty in the meeting led the dean to bring distinguished educational psychologist John Bransford, and distinguished cultural psychologists Michael Cole, and Alex Kozulin to campus to present and discuss their research with SOLES faculty. In addition, staff of the Buck Institute came to SOLES to mentor faculty regarding the learning and cognitive advantages of using project based learning pedagogy. The PACT assessment requires teaching candidates to demonstrate that they can use developmental principles to make instructional decisions. One of the embedded signature assignments that prepares candidates for the PACT is the clinical interview in EDUC 382/582 that invites candidates to enter as completely as possible the mental world of a student. In 2011 SOLES faculty and candidates have a deeper understanding of the ubiquity and importance of individual differences and cultural contexts in learning and development than in 2004.
The 2004 conceptual framework spoke of the importance of reflection for practitioners. Since then work in the neurosciences has demonstrated just how essential candidates’ development of the capacity of reflection is for successful teaching. Daniel Siegel (2007) has shown that integration of experience requires individuals to reflect in a fresh manner on their own reactions and experiences. Candidates who cannot mindfully step back from experiences in the classroom can be trapped in non-productive, circular patterns of reactivity that lie beyond their understanding to access and change. Recently, McDonald and Shirley (2009) have drawn out the implications of mindfulness for teaching and cautioned that data based decision making, absent an attentive frame of mind connected to reflective practice, is likely to be unsuccessful.
Community and Service
A lacuna in the original conceptual framework was the absence of a focus on globalization. This new component of the knowledge base applies to all three levels of the ACE framework but is described below because of the new perspective it provides on the word “community.”
A year after USD’s last NCATE/CTC visit, Thomas Friedman’s paradigm-shifting workThe World is Flat (2005), showed that transportation, trade and technology had combined to shrink time and space so that humanity now lives in an interconnected global village where events occurring in one spot of the globe can be experienced in real time in another. Moreover, new patterns of immigration have distributed diverse populations widely across almost all areas. In 2005 almost 200 million people world-wide lived a different country than the one they were born in and 20% of children in the United States between ages 5 to 17 had a parent born in another country (Zhao, 2010). Teachers now need to be sensitive not only to issues of culture and language, but also to issues related to migration. Globalization challenges teacher education programs to train candidates to respond to the needs of increasingly diverse students and also to prepare them to succeed in an increasingly global world (Zhao, 2010).
In 2011 SOLES is more knowledgeable regarding the Catholic dimensions of service than it was in 2004. The Center for Catholic Thought and Culture was established on campus in July of 2008, in order to provide the university and the local community with opportunities to consider and find enrichment in the intellectual, social, cultural and spiritual traditions of the Catholic Church. The Center provides an in-depth year-long orientation to all newly hired tenure track faculty that teaches them about Catholic social thought and its foundational role in the USD mission. The Center also sponsors an annual international faculty trip to a service site that demonstrates exemplary Catholic social values. Finally, the Center brings in speakers throughout the academic year to present colloquia on dimensions of Catholic social teaching. The new infusion of Catholic social teaching at USD is also relevant and beneficial to the third component of ACE, Ethics, Values, and Diversity and could as easily been place under that heading.
Ethics Values and Diversity
USD has taken significant steps since 2004 to support diversity on campus. In 2007 President Mary Lyons created a special President’s Advisory Board on Inclusion and Diversity to make recommendations on moving the campus forward. Several recommendations have become initiatives or are already operational; others are in various stages of discussion. The most important recommendation was to establish a Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID) led by a tenured faculty member appointed in a new position, the Associate Provost for Inclusion and Diversity. This recommendation was enacted in September, 2010, establishing a campus Center “where issues surrounding inclusion and diversity can be conceptualized, assessed, nurtured, cultivated, promoted, celebrated, and shared.” The CID works along with the Center for Educational Excellence, the United Front Multicultural Center, and the Women’s Center to sponsor workshops on inclusion and diversity, curriculum development, peer support, and biased-related incidents/hate crimes.