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Basic tenets of the conceptual framework

and changes since the previous visit

Basic tenets - Changes -Revised Advanced Competencies

Basic Tenets of Conceptual Framework

Instruction and assessment at the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development (FSEHD) has been designed to reflect the Conceptual Framework and to measure candidate proficiencies on standards that stem from it. The Conceptual Framework serves as a foundation for all initial programs. It is aligned with Rhode Island Professional Teacher Standards and Specialized Professional Association (SPA) standards. The Framework provides a basis for assessment of candidate qualifications and program quality. The Conceptual Framework, emphasizes three roles:

  • The educator as a planner
  • The educator as an implementer, and
  • The educator as a reflective and collaborative practitioner.

The Conceptual Framework emphasizes the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development's mission to develop reflective practitioners for the 21st century.  Candidates are introduced to Reflective Practice as they progress through professional programs, and continue to grow as Reflective Practitioners throughout their careers. 

There are two motifs – PAR and the Four Themes – that organize the Conceptual Framework. The first motif, PAR, an acronym for "Planning, Acting, and Reflecting," represents the recursive process involved in reflective educational practice, be it administration, counseling, or teaching.  The other motif is the Four Themes – Knowledge, Pedagogy, Diversity, and Professionalism – which constitute the shared knowledge base of reflective practice.  Whereas PAR denotes the way in which reflective practitioners ply their craft, the Four Themes describe the requisite knowledge and skills.  This foundation for best professional practice includes (1) thorough Knowledge of content, context, and human development, (2) theoretical and practical grounding in Pedagogy, (3) sensitivity and responsiveness to human Diversity, and (4) agreed-upon standards of Professionalism.  The four themes are illustrated as follows:

THEME 1. KNOWLEDGE

General Education
Reflective practitioners possess a broad base of knowledge in the liberal arts, including mastery of oral and written English communication, mathematical and reasoning skills, and technological competence as well as a global perspective that emphasizes people's interdependence with one another and with nature.

Human Learning and Development
Reflective practitioners have a solid grounding in educational psychology, the branch of psychology that specializes in understanding teaching and learning in educational settings.  They know the four pillars of educational psychology: human development, theories of learning and cognition, classroom management, and assessment.

Contexts of Schooling
Reflective practitioners possess a critical understanding of the contexts of schooling: social, political, economic, historical, philosophical, legal, professional, global, and cultural.

Area of Specialization
Reflective practitioners possess a deep, thorough, and, above all, working knowledge of their area(s) of specialization, enabling them to make informed decisions to approach curriculum implementation

THEME 2. PEDAGOGY

Theory and Practice of Teaching and Learning
Reflective practitioners employ a variety of models of teaching and learning. Best practice entails a balance between pedagogical approaches.

Instructional Uses of Technology
Reflective practitioners integrate technology into curricula, instruction, and assessment of students to create high quality learning experiences and instructional opportunities.

Assessment as an Aid to Practice
Assessment is primarily a means for determining the relative success of teaching and counseling interventions for the purpose of improving them in the future.  In other words, assessment is used as a tool for reflection and subsequent planning.

THEME 3. DIVERSITY

Cultural Diversity and Multicultural Education
Reflective educators are knowledgeable of both the differences that distinguish individuals and groups and the commonalities that bind them together. They understand and respond to the diverse needs and backgrounds of students, clients, and families and develop strategies for combating prejudice and advancing educational equity, inclusion, and intercultural understanding.

Special Needs and Inclusion
Reflective practitioners are aware of the impact of disability on the teaching-learning process and are responsive to the individual strengths and needs of children and youth with a range of disabilities. They understand the effect that disability has on family functioning, and they can work effectively with parents in program planning. In order to function effectively in an inclusive environment, reflective practitioners must also collaborate with professionals from all disciplines when making educational decisions. They examine their own cultural and family background as it pertains to disability, reflecting on the impact of their beliefs and behavior on the classroom setting, counseling situation, or planning session, making adjustments as necessary. They are prepared not only to be responsive to students' adapted curriculum, instruction, and learning needs but also to make curriculum adaptations and instructional modifications on-the-spot to accommodate students' needs.

THEME 4. PROFESSIONALISM

Professional Ethics
Ethics are principles of conduct used to guide an individual's behavior. Ethical principles guide practitioners as they determine aims and objectives; select content and materials; plan and implement methods and strategies; conduct non-discriminatory evaluations of students, clients, and staff; reflect on their choices and actions; and take responsibility for the consequences. Reflective practitioners accept the professional, social, ethical, and moral responsibilities and reap the personal rewards of being a teacher in a democratic, pluralistic society.

Collaboration and Advocacy
Reflective practitioners recognize that schools, families and communities must work together, and educators must collaborate within schools, to support student and client learning and growth, and to promote democratic values in their own communities and beyond.

Professional Development
Reflective practitioners consciously plan, implement, and reflect upon their own professional growth, as well as that of the profession. Committed professionals actively participate in a wide variety of educational opportunities.

Reflective Practitioners have background knowledge and skills in each of the Four Themes.  However, just as the PAR acronym articulates discrete phases of reflective practice which in reality cannot be separated, the Four Themes similarly distinguish domains of knowledge and endeavor which in reality profoundly overlap.  Indeed, the overlap is so deep and pervasive that to separate these themes in theory runs the risk of fragmenting the shared knowledge base of professional education practice. 

Changes to Conceptual Framework

The Reflective Practitioner Committee worked on the unit's Conceptual Framework this year. The revised draft is more streamlined and user-friendly than the previous version.

The Advanced Programs Coordinators committee met regularly in Spring 2008 to revise the unit's advanced competencies with the goal of making them more meaningful and relevant to the diverse programs at the advanced levels.  This effort arose from faculty feedback indicating that they had been sufficiently involved in the development of the unit's original Advanced Competencies. Thus began a year-long process to review the foundation of the existing assessment system, the Advanced Competencies, in order to make graduate level assessment more meaningful for unit level use.

Several major assumptions guided this revision process. They evolved as fundamental understandings and served as a reference point to move past many of the challenging decisions that program coordinators and administrators needed to make. First, involvement from all coordinators in all advanced programs was integral as many felt the previous version of the Advanced Competencies had been handed to them with little opportunity for input. The progress was often tedious and it was important to focus on buy in and consensus building along the way. Second, despite individual program differences, all programs belonging to FSEHD must have some common core expectations of its candidates. Stated simply if a program is part of unit, there must be commonalities; the candidates from various programs must have a common core of traits or skills that are valued and can be observed. Third, this exercise in revision was necessary to make meaningful conclusions from the collection of unit data. Revamping the core Advanced Competencies was at the root of developing this meaningful assessment system. Fourth and finally, unit level information gathering can and should differ from program level assessment needs with the latter being much more specific to the particular discipline.    

The revision process remained open-ended, constrained only by the auspices of the Conceptual Framework of the institution. No preconceived notion was imposed on the length or content of the new Advanced Competencies. What began as a review and update of language in each of the 14 descriptors ended with a complete restructuring of categories. When wondering if more is better and striving for the least common denominator, redundant language was cut and categories were compressed.

Ultimately the editing process resulted in narrowing several categories, adding clearer language consisting of demonstrable verbs, and re-configuring the topical headings from four to two. Knowledge and Practice are the larger headings with Diversity and Professionalism infused throughout them, the idea being that what any candidate knows (Knowledge) and can do (Practice) must be in the context of Diversity and Professionalism. Careful attention was paid to how each program could operationalize these concepts and the ways in which the Advanced Competencies would be seen in each program. The table below shows the current version of the unit's Advanced Competencies, tentatively approved in April 2008 and formally approved as the final draft in April 2009.

Revised Advanced Competencies

Knowledge influenced by diversity and professionalism
FSEHD advanced candidates demonstrate the requisite knowledge of content and practice to prepare them to be experts of the diverse fields of their disciplines.

Practice informed by diversity and professionalism
FSEHD advanced candidates incorporate their domain-specific knowledge into performance with attention to diversity and the standards of their profession.

Knowledge 1.) Domain-Specific Knowledge:  candidate demonstrates conceptual mastery of subject matter, literature, theory, and methods in one's chosen field of professional practice.

 

Practice 1.) Evidence-based Decision Making: candidate defines a problem clearly; collects/analyzes data; uses data to inform decision-making; addresses target population dynamics; and incorporates considerations of other professionals and/or stakeholders while determining a plan of action that: a) contributes to school improvement and/or renewal; and/or b) promotes the well-being of children, family systems, school systems, or communities.

Knowledge 2.) Information Literacy:  candidate recognizes when information is needed and has the ability to locate, interpret, and evaluate relevant information.

Practice 2.) Technology Use: candidate selects and uses technology effectively  in: a) presentation of information, b) collaborative work environments, c) information collection analysis and management, and  d) research based activities

Knowledge 3.) Contextual Perspective: candidate demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of diversity as it relates to field specific content.   

Practice 3.) Diversity of Practice: candidate uses knowledge of diversity about self and others to design effective practice. 

Knowledge 4.) Professional Awareness: candidate exhibits an understanding of the standards of one's chosen profession, (e.g., confidentiality, ethics)

Practice 4.) Professional Identity Development: candidate examines own emerging, developing or acquired professional knowledge, skills, communication, and dispositions that will result in competent practice, and creates plan to further one's own professional growth.

 

   

Revised Advanced Competencies

Knowledge influenced by diversity and professionalism
FSEHD advanced candidates demonstrate the requisite knowledge of content and practice to prepare them to be experts of the diverse fields of their disciplines.

Practice informed by diversity and professionalism
FSEHD advanced candidates incorporate their domain-specific knowledge into performance with attention to diversity and the standards of their profession.

Knowledge 1.) Domain-Specific Knowledge:  candidate demonstrates conceptual mastery of subject matter, literature, theory, and methods in one's chosen field of professional practice.

 

Practice 1.) Evidence-based Decision Making: candidate defines a problem clearly; collects/analyzes data; uses data to inform decision-making; addresses target population dynamics; and incorporates considerations of other professionals and/or stakeholders while determining a plan of action that: a) contributes to school improvement and/or renewal; and/or b) promotes the well-being of children, family systems, school systems, or communities.

Knowledge 2.) Information Literacy:  candidate recognizes when information is needed and has the ability to locate, interpret, and evaluate relevant information.

Practice 2.) Technology Use: candidate selects and uses technology effectively  in: a) presentation of information, b) collaborative work environments, c) information collection analysis and management, and  d) research based activities

Knowledge 3.) Contextual Perspective: candidate demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of diversity as it relates to field specific content.   

Practice 3.) Diversity of Practice: candidate uses knowledge of diversity about self and others to design effective practice. 

Knowledge 4.) Professional Awareness: candidate exhibits an understanding of the standards of one's chosen profession, (e.g., confidentiality, ethics)

Practice 4.) Professional Identity Development: candidate examines own emerging, developing or acquired professional knowledge, skills, communication, and dispositions that will result in competent practice, and creates plan to further one's own professional growth.