This section provides an overview of the unit’s conceptual framework(s).
1. Elements of the Unit’s Conceptual Framework
Vision. The vision of the unit is reflected in the College of Education and Human Development’s most recent strategic plan. “The College aspires to be nationally recognized as a regional leader in developing professionals who serve communities and schools throughout the upper Midwest. The professionals who work in the College and study in the College academic programs will be known, individually and collectively, by their learning and teaching, their research and dissemination of knowledge, and their multicultural competence” (E-exhibit 1a.1, pg. 6).
Mission. The mission of the Teacher Education Unit at the University of North Dakota is to support the preparation of educators and other school personnel. Through teaching, research, and service, faculty focus their work on the development of practicing professionals concerned with “fostering healthy human development and learning across the lifespan, beginning in early childhood” (E-exhibit 1a.2, p. 1).
Teacher education at the University of North Dakota is founded upon a philosophy of progressivism. Such progressive education is grounded in constructivist principles and reflective practice; the value of diversity; and a commitment to holistic understandings of learning, teaching, and assessment. The central themes of our conceptual framework: Teacher as Learner, Teacher as Active Agent of Learning and Teacher as Articulate visionary embrace these ideals and drive our goal to develop teachers and school professionals who:
Theories, research and the wisdom of practice that drive the work of the unit are grounded in constructivism. Constructivist practices in curriculum and instruction provide a seamless connection with a progressive philosophy and inform our evaluation processes and our research.
We believe, with Dewey (1938) and others (Gardner, 1991; Lambert, 1995; Mansilla & Gardner, 1998; Perkins, 1998) that learning is active and that it is constructed from experience and reflection on the experience. The lifelong process of learning "involves reaching out of the mind. It involves organic assimilation from within" (Dewey, 1902). Similarly to the pedagogy outlined by Perkins (1998), the faculty attempts to help candidates build on their previous understandings and to extend new understandings. Faculty also help candidates examine and challenge their previous understandings, or assumptions regarding the broad array of educational concerns and issues. As well, they engage candidates in increasing and incremental performance-based understandings and provide timely assessment (Conceptual Framework Document, E-exhibit 1a.3, pg 2, ¶3).
The conceptual framework document delineates the general proficiencies expected of our candidates related to knowledge, skills and professional dispositions. These are further clarified in the field experience section of the Undergraduate Teacher Education Program Handbook (Hard Copy Exhibit 1d.1)as follows:
Teacher as Learner:
Teacher As Active Agent of Learning Teaching Qualities:
Teacher As Active Agent of Learning Relationships with Others:
Teacher As Active Agent of Learning Professionalism:
Teacher As Articulate Visionary
The conceptual framework provides a context for assessing candidates’ performance based on professional, state, and institutional standards. Candidates in initial programs must meet the Interstate New Teacher and Support Consortium (INTASC) Principles which are aligned with The Department of Teaching and Learning’s program standards and the appropriate program standards of the North Dakota Standards and Practices Board (E-exhibit 1d.1). Candidates in advanced program for teachers, with the exception of Special Education, must address the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) which are aligned with the Department of Teaching and Learning’s standards for advanced programs for teachers (E-exhibit 1d.2) and the appropriate program standards of the North Dakota Standards and Practices Board as evidenced in the ESPB program reports. Special Education is nationally recognized and follows the standards developed by the Council on Exceptional Children (see CEC Report). Candidates in advanced programs for other school professionals make use of the standards of their professions to guide candidate learning and performance (Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC), Association for Educational Communications and Technology (ACET), American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) as well the standards of the North Dakota Standards and Practices Board where applicable as evidenced in the ESPB program reports (see link from webpage).
At the time of our last NCATE visit in October 2001, a weakness in our assessment system was cited by the BOE as follows: “Although the Unit has given some thought to developing an evaluation system, there is no conceptual design for relating the various categories of data currently being collected. The Unit should begin to develop an information system architecture that will be flexible enough to meet internal as well as external reporting needs (p. 18).” From the spring of 2002 to date, the unit has been working diligently to ameliorate this weakness. A brief summary of the design of the current unit assessment systems is presented here and a graphic depiction of the system can be found in the electronic exhibit room (E-exhibit 1e.1). A more complete description can be found under Standard 2 in this report.
Responsibility for oversight of the unit assessment system rests with the unit head and is coordinated by the Associate Dean for Teacher Education who is also the NCATE Coordinator. While each department is responsible for the collection, analysis and evaluation, and use of data for improvement of its individual programs, the Associate Dean tracks progress and where needed coordinates efforts to ensure that each element of Standard 2 is met. The Associate Dean reports the progress of candidates and programs within the unit to the Teacher Education Committee twice annually.
Initial. Candidates in initial programs (with the exception of Music, Visual Arts, and Physical Education) are assessed at five transition points. Praxis scores, several critical tasks, dispositions’ assessments, and follow-up surveys allow faculty to understand how candidates are progressing throughout and beyond their teacher education program. The programs in music and visual arts are accredited by their own professional bodies and follow the assessment requirements of those organizations. We are however, able to monitor the progress of those candidates in the areas of candidate dispositions and student teaching and through follow-up surveys. Candidates in Physical Education are also assessed in the areas of dispositions and student teaching and through follow-up surveys. Other assessments take place within the Department of Physical Education, Exercise Science and Wellness and are detailed in the North Dakota Education Standards and Practices Board (ESPB) program approval report for Physical Education.
Advanced. Candidates in advanced programs for teachers, with the exception of special education, and Instructional Design and Technology have traditionally been assessed at three transitions points; however, a recent extensive revision of the assessment plan for advanced programs has been completed. Candidates will now be assessed at four points. The revised system employs the assessment of critical tasks rather than grades for the mid-program transition points. Special Education is nationally recognized and its assessment system meets the requirements of the Council on Exceptional Children (CEC).
Other School Professionals. Data for other school professionals is managed by the particular departments in which the programs are located. The Reading Specialist program, located within the Department of Teaching and Learning, has adopted a system similar to that of the advanced programs. The program in Instructional Design and Technology, also within the Department of Teaching and Learning, has its own assessment system that employs the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (ACET) Standards in the assessment of its candidates (E-exhibit 1e.2). The Departments of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology and Community Services each have their own assessment plans (E-exhibits 1e.3 and 1e.4). These programs as well as others in the unit report progress at the annual Assessment Day instituted in 2006 and hosted by the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development who is also the unit head. The Speech Language Pathology Program is accredited by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) and this program responds to the assessment requirements of that professional organization. Accreditation reports are requested as needed.
Information related to candidate assessment and unit operations is also managed within the Office of Associate Dean's office and include:
Data sources, where appropriate, are compiled into reports that provide additional candidate information to faculty during their annual assessment retreat. In addition, the Office of Teacher Education analyzes and evaluates data and prepares reports for the Teacher Education Committee for the purpose of improving procedures and enhancing candidates’ experiences.
2. Changes to the Conceptual Framework
In the fall of 2005, the Associate Dean for Teacher Education sought guidance from the Teacher Education Committee related to the review and revision of the unit’s conceptual framework. After reading and discussing the framework, the committee felt that the document continued to reflect the units’ philosophy, purposes and goals but the references needed to be updated, more specific information needed to be added about the unit assessment system and the document needed some editing to provide better clarity. The document remains the same substantively but has been changed in the following ways:
The 2001 version of our Conceptual Framework can be seen under 2.1 in E-exhibits.
Hard Copy Exhibits in Support of the Conceptual Framework
1d.1: Undergraduate Teacher Education Program Handbook