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Updated 8 March 2009
The Reflective Practitioner
A Conceptual Framework for Professional Education
Missouri State University
Approved by PEC March 11, 2009
Our Shared Vision
At Missouri State, we believe that education is everyone's business. Professional education is one of the five primary "emphasis" areas within Missouri State's overarching public affairs mission. To continue and enhance the University's original and long tradition of success in preparing educators it is imperative that all involved programs function within and toward a clear, shared vision of professional education at Missouri State. This document presents a broad-based description of such a vision, which is our Conceptual Framework. Within the Missouri State professional education community, we believe that effective professional education programs must be based upon shared beliefs about schools, learning, and education that guide program development and instruction including planning, assessment, and evaluation. Our Conceptual Framework is interpreted and applied in the various content and specialty areas in accordance with their unique, specialized professional knowledge bases and standards. It provides a set of assumptions, commitments, knowledge, skills, dispositions and learning outcomes adopted by each of our professional education programs. Finally, our Conceptual Framework provides a system for ensuring coherence among curriculum, instruction, field experiences, clinical practice, and assessment across a candidate's program.
Our Conceptual Framework is a living document, regularly reviewed and modified to incorporate new knowledge and experience about best practices in education. The focal point of our shared vision is that of the professional educator as a "reflective practitioner" (Schön¸ 1984), who has the knowledge, skills and dispositions needed to effectively, powerfully and appropriately facilitate the learning and development of learners of all ages, B-16 and beyond. At Missouri State, reflective practice is the lens through which best practice in education is viewed.
At Missouri State, the overarching Mission of the university is "to develop educated persons" (Countdown to the Centennial, 2000). For the Professional Education Unit (PEU), our mission and purpose becomes a focused endeavor to develop educated persons with the specialized competencies and skills to be both powerful and effective in facilitating, promoting, and enhancing the learning and development of all learners with compassion and fairness.
Who We Are
The PEU at Missouri State University is a community comprised of candidates, graduates, faculty members, staff, and administrators from a variety of departments and colleges across the University, as well as our school and community partners in southwest Missouri. Professional education candidates and graduates are those persons who are enrolled in or have graduated from initial (undergraduate) or advanced (graduate) professional education programs in teacher education, communication sciences, counseling, or educational administration and leadership. Professional education faculty and staff, from all colleges in the university, are those who teach courses taken by candidates in professional education programs, and provide advising, mentoring, and supervision of clinical and field experiences. Our partners include those in schools and community agencies in which our candidates observe and practice their developing skills under professional supervision and mentoring, from admission through their first three years of professional practice. With the contributions of faculty who teach liberal arts and general education courses, we are convinced that at Missouri State, education is everyone's business.
The Reflective Educational Practitioner
We believe that powerful professional educators are, among other things, "reflective decision makers" who maintain that all students can learn. In general, reflective decision-making involves:
1. finding clear and fruitful ways of characterizing problems and opportunities;
2. careful, well-informed consideration of possibilities or alternatives for action;
3. thoughtful and fair assessment of choices made and implemented (Dewey, 1922, 1933; Gardner, 1996; Missouri State PEU, 1995, 1998; Schön¸1984).
We believe that reflective practitioners in professional education contexts:
Make informed, rational, fair choices in a variety of learning contexts and assume responsibility for those choices.
Actively pursue learning themselves, as practitioners, mentors, coaches, and co-creators, with their students, of meaningful learning experiences and environments where all students can learn.
Critically examine their own and others' experienced-based perceptions, strategies, and conventional wisdom about schooling and learning.
Draw routinely from academic and real-life knowledge, and scholarship on educational theories and best instructional practice.
View teaching as a dynamic process of renewal and re-examination in light of the refinement of established models and the emergence of new ones.
Our Beliefs about Professional Education Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions
We believe that professional educators must acquire the knowledge needed to make fully informed decisions (Shulman, 1986, 1987). They must acquire a balanced foundation of subject matter, professional knowledge, and pedagogical skills allowing them to transform what they know into powerful skills for professional practice, that actively engage students in the learning process (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Olson, 2000). Additionally, professional educators must be able to facilitate learning and development through the expression of appropriate dispositions that are learner-centered, ethical, socially and culturally respectful, fair, and optimistic (Eisner, 2001; Moje & Speyer, 2008).
More specifically, we believe that:
A broad liberal arts education is the hallmark of an educated person and serves as a framework for understanding (Shulman, 1987).
Knowledge of major theories of learning and human development is crucial to developing effective instructional practices and professional relationships (Pintrich, 1990; Schunk, 1991; Shulman, 1987; Wittrock, 1986).
Knowledge of the historical, cultural, political, technological and community contexts of education serves to illuminate and focus educational ends, purposes, values and practices (Ayers, 1990; Moje & Speyer, 2008; Shulman, 1987).
Knowledge of subject matter content must be sufficient to enable practitioners to fully understand the important ideas in their knowledge domains. They understand the influence that knowledge has on their pedagogical orientations, teaching decisions, and teaching acts (Allen, 2003; Boyer, 1983; Goodlad, 1990; Grossman, 1987; Kaplan & Owings, 2003; Kuhs, 1980; Sanders, 2004; Wilson, 1988).
Knowledge of pedagogical and leadership theories impacts teaching practice, serves as a foundation for developing and expanding existing and emerging theories, and guides evolving educational policies (Good & Brophy, 2004).
Knowledge of current research and subsequent data contribute to the development of best practice teaching methods.
Knowledge of one's self as a professional educator - including personal theories, "practical" knowledge, beliefs, insights and expectations - serves as a potent source of teaching behaviors conceptually reinforcing that educational success is for all learners (Anders, 2008; Ayers, 1990; Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2005; Grimmett et al. 1990; May, 1989).
Professional educators have the interpersonal skills necessary to cooperate and collaborate with diverse learners, colleagues, parents, support personnel, and community agencies.
Professional educators are instructional leaders who play an active role in the development of classroom goals (Clark & Peterson, 1986; Doyle, 1980; Gump, 1982), curriculum, instructional and disciplinary practices (Cruickshank, 1992; Glasser, 1986; Good, 1983; Good & Brophy, 2004; Moskowitz & Hayman, 1976; Steffe & Gale, 1995) and assessment procedures (Dagley & Orso, 1991; Oliva, 2004; Wiggins, 1993).
Professional educators are critical thinkers (Clark & Peterson, 1986; Dewey, 1933; Onosko, 1992; Schön, 1984; Zeichner, 1987), active listeners (Garrett, Sadker, & Sadker, 1990), skilled communicators (Cazden, 1986; Cruickshank, 1992; Doyle, 1986; Galloway, 1984; Good & Brophy, 2004; Porter & Brophy, 1988), and helpful collaborators with learners (Bean, 1992; Costa, Garmston, & Lambert, 1988; Newman & Wehlage, 1993).
Professional educators effectively apply current technologies in teaching, assessment and professional development (Conroy & Hedley, 1990; Dunn, 1996; Lockard, Abrams, & Many, 1997).
Professional educators are skilled at creating and facilitating fair learning environments for diverse learners (Patrick & Reinhartz, 1999), that are active, expressive and energized (Cruickshank, 1992; Duncan & Biddle, 1982; Good & Brophy, 2004; Rosenshine & Furst, 1971; Steffe & Gale, 1995; Yager, 1991).
The challenges and requirements of a democratic society demand that educators become knowledgeable about, and sensitive to, issues such as equality and human diversity (Adejumo, 2002; Au, 1993; Baruth & Manning, 2000; Grant & Sleeter, 2006; Nieto, 2004). They must develop an awareness of the societal barriers that individuals with disabilities face (Banks, 2002; Bigge, 2005; Heward, 2005; Kauffman, 1989; Shames & Wiig, 2005).
Professional educators are highly empathic (Cruickshank, 1990; MacDonald, 1991), and show positive regard for the potential of all students for academic and personal growth (Clark, 1993). Professional educators are ethical (Clark, 1993; Tom, 1984; Valli, 1990, 1992), caring and willing to provide assistance in developing each student's individual talents for educational successes (Aspy, 1969; MacDonald, 1991).
Professional educators are passionate about teaching; they are intellectually curious, genuinely concerned about the progress and fair treatment of students and dedicated to excellence in their own professional development (Schön, 1984).
Professional educators are responsible for creating and maintaining equitable, respectful, tolerant, collaborative and healthy environment for diverse learners in whatever context they practice, as this is essential for student learning and development (Crawford, 1978; Corno & Snow, 1986; Cotton & Savard, 1984; Good & Brophy, 2004; Susi, 1995).
Professional educators engage in self-appraisal (Anders, 2008; Ayers, 1990; Grimmett et al., 1990), and use feedback from students, supervisors, mentors and peers to improve their practice (Oliva, 2004).
Our General Learning Outcomes
The curricula of professional education programs at Missouri State University reflect our commitment to these beliefs. Further, they reflect and are aligned with the professional standards specified by state, national, and professional accreditation organizations. Our initial and advanced programs are designed to develop candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions associated with successful professional educational practice.
Missouri State professional education graduates will demonstrate competence in:
1. Foundations: knowledge of the historical development of the profession, and foundational issues and arguments underlying its practices, as well as understanding of the importance of integrated learning across disciplines.
2. Subject Matter: knowledge of subject matter discipline content and the ability to integrate content with pedagogy appropriate to the candidate's field of study.
3. Learning and Development: knowledge of human development and motivation, theories of learning, pedagogy and assessment.
4. Reflective skills: communication skills, critical and creative thinking abilities and other skills crucial to reflective decision-making.
5. Technology: knowledge and skills in the use of technology appropriate to the candidate's field of study.
6. Professional Skills: the practical abilities to implement the skills, techniques, and strategies associated with student learning and development in the educational context in which they practice.
7. Assessment Skills: the skills to conduct valid and reliable assessments of their students' learning, and use that assessment to improve learning and development for their students.
8. Dispositions: the intellectual, social, ethical, and other personal attributes and beliefs previously ascribed to reflective decision-makers in a variety of professional settings, including a commitment to their own lifelong learning and professional development.
9. Diversity: the ability to skillfully facilitate and promote the learning of all students, including those from diverse cultural, racial and economic backgrounds, and those with disabilities.
10. Collaboration and Leadership: the ability and skills to foster and maintain collaborative, empowering relationships with other professionals within schools and the community.
The Assessment of General Learning Outcomes
Candidate attainment of the general learning outcome competencies is continuously assessed and evaluated using multiple data sources. These outcome based assessment systems include, but are not limited to, standardized testing procedures, traditional classroom-based testing, observations, research and conceptual papers, portfolios and related performance assessments. Individual departments responsible for specific programs that lead to certification develop assessment plans and procedures unique to their specific discipline area. These procedures are in alignment with our Conceptual Framework, national standards of various learned societies, NCATE standards and the program accreditation standards of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
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