Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


Graduate School of Education Conceptual Framework

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The Conceptual Framework of the Graduate School of Education (GSE) is the statement of what we believe to be the encompassing design features that should underpin our programs of study for teachers, counselors, psychologists, administrators and other professional school personnel. This framework is derived from several sources: the mission of the GSE, our values and commitments, the philosophical and pedagogical beliefs we hold, and the needs of the communities we serve. The framework and the related knowledge bases of our programs are consistent with the current scholarship in the fields in which these professionals practice and, we believe, they will enable us to best prepare our candidates for the 21st Century.

Shared Vision and Coherence

Values and Commitments

What do we value as a school community? Briefly stated, we value diversity, the individual, the community, excellence, research, reflection on and about theory-based practice, collaboration, leadership, ethics, and social justice. These values are reflected in the commitments enumerated in our mission statement and are acted upon through the design, content, and experience of our academic programs. We are committed to:

  1. The Jesuit tradition of rigorous intellectual endeavor, service to complex metropolitan communities, and development of the whole person;
  2. Personal and institutional excellence;
  3. Application and expansion of theory and knowledge to meet all students' and clients' educational and counseling needs; and
  4. Recognition of and response to the changing demands of our multilingual, multicultural communities.

Philosophical and Pedagogical Beliefs

In addition to our shared values and commitments, a set of philosophical and pedagogical beliefs drive the design and implementation of the programs and help define the academic culture of our graduate school so that our student candidatesbecome theory-guided practitioners. We believe successful study for professional practice begins with an adequate foundation of knowledge, and then requires the acquisition of specific knowledge of pedagogical contents and pedagogical practice, the skills in applying this knowledge, and the knowledge and dispositions essential to respond appropriately to individual learners from diverse backgrounds and in a variety of learning and work-related contexts. These beliefs, though expressed in many forms, are shared by faculty and staff across programs and divisions.
Each of the three divisions in the GSE has based its programs on the conceptual framework described above and on individual knowledge bases particular to its respective programs. The divisions' knowledge bases begin with the shared vision and mission of the GSE, its philosophy, purpose, and goals, and then identify the various theories, research, practices, knowledge, understandings, candidate proficiencies, assessment systems, and applicable standards for the respective programs.

These knowledge bases have been reviewed and revised since our previous NCATE review, in response to advances in the fields, New York State standards, and new standards for professional accreditation. But, the essence of the framework and knowledge bases remains. As was the case when the knowledge bases were originally developed and expressed, that essence is similar across each of the three divisions and all of the Graduate School's programs. Best practice must be informed by research, applied in the context of the modern, complex, dynamic, multicultural educational world in which we now live, and demonstrate the values and dispositions which support the growth of the whole person-intellectually, morally, and professionally.

The Reflective and Inclusive Educator and Professional

The initial and advanced teacher education programs are based on reflective practice, the goal of developing teachers who are reflective educators. These are individuals who apply best practice in the design, development, delivery, and evaluation of inclusive instruction for all students. Best practice, in turn, is something derived from study and reflection, inquiry, and research that springs from collaboration among and between researchers and practitioners.

The Scientist-Practitioner

The psychology programs are based on the "scientist-practitioner" model of professional preparation. Collaboration to develop and apply best practice is key here, too, as it is recognized as fundamental that practitioners and scientists need each other to advance theory and practice. While the scientist may design research and utilize experimental and statistical methods to test hypotheses, the practitioner must validate those hypotheses in real settings. It is the practitioner who can identify questions in need of investigation and it is the researcher who can evaluate whether answers to those questions apply beyond a narrow range.

Effective School Learning Leaders

The master's degree program leading tocertification as a school administrator or school district administrator has been designed to prepare effective school learning leaders. Given the difficulties of leading schools today and the numerous calls for school reform, the belief that "administration is management" is viewed as inadequate. Managerial skills are important and necessary, but they are not sufficient. Education learning leaders are needed-individuals who have vision, who understand learners and their communities, who are knowledgeable about modern theories and practices of effective instruction derived from research, and who can apply their knowledge and skills to improve students' learning. The program in educational administration and supervision strives to develop the knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for individuals to become effective school learning leaders.

Professional Commitments and Dispositions

Foundations for Professional and Graduate Study

A substantivegeneralintellectual background is a prerequisite for advanced undergraduate, graduate, and advanced professional study. This belief is consonant with our valuing of excellence and reflection and our commitment to intellectual endeavor in the Jesuit tradition, to personal excellence, to the expansion of knowledge, and to service in complex communities. Establishing the satisfactory completion of a liberal arts and sciences background as a prerequisite to professional study is one example of how this belief is operationalized across our programs.

Knowledge of the Field

The preparation for professional life as teachers, counselors, psychologists, administrators, and other educators must include a firm grounding in current research and theory and best practices related to the areas of professional study. Our program and course designs ensure that students are exposed to theory and current best practice models before they engage in student teaching, internships, practica, or other field experiences.

Briefly, the knowledge we have identified as essential to the development of school personnel include broad and general knowledge about school culture and processes, philosophy of education, learning and memory, emotion and motivation, human growth and development, individual and group differences in human behavior, curriculum practices, human relations and classroom management, assessment and evaluation of learning, educational and psychological research, and technology. Additional knowledge specific to different disciplines and our programs in reading and literacy, special education, bilingual education, counseling, school psychology, and school leadership is reflected in the individual program curricula.

Application of Knowledge

Professional preparation should include instruction and opportunities to develop the skills, tools, understandings, and dispositions that lead to habits of reflection, analysis, and improvement as theory-guided practice. This belief flows from our valuing of excellence, reflection, leadership, theory- and research-based practice. It also relates to our commitment to use our disciplines, knowledge, and methods to meet all students' and clients' needs. Our programs, through courses and field experiences, are designed to develop the necessary skills and tools and to provide structured experiences for their application through such activities as large and small-group instruction, discussion, journal- or log-keeping, integrative seminars, pre-practica experiences, role-playing, modeling, simulations, research, problem-solving projects, reflective essays, etc. The reflective process also assists in the development of ethical practice and deepening of personal professional perspectives.

The skills we have identified as essential to the development of school personnel also
include applications of the knowledge bases described above in such areas as curriculum and lesson planning, adapting instruction to students with different needs, curriculum evaluation, assessment of students and clients, working effectively with professional colleagues, parents, and other stake-holders in the educational (or administrative, supervisory, counseling, or therapeutic) process, conducting or evaluating research, and reflecting on one's and others' instructional and/or other professional practices. Numerous additional professional skills are identified and developed within the specialty areas and programs. 

Dispositions

Finally, the values and dispositions we regard as essential to the development of  theory-guided practitioners who are reflective teachers, scientist-practitioner psychologists and counselors, and effective school learning leaders include the belief that all children can learn, that behavior can be changed, that organizations (for example, schools) can be more effective in support of learning goals, that the individual (the teacher, administrator, counselor, psychologist, and the learner/client him- or herself) can be an effective agent for problem solving and change, that diversity is a strength, that fairness is an indispensable disposition, and that learning is a life-long process.

Commitment to Diversity

Response to the Individual

We value the individual and diversity. We value excellence, reflection, research, and theory-based best practice, ethical behavior, and social justice. Throughout our programs and practices, we strive to support and develop these values in ourselves, our organization, and in our candidates.

Individuals have a wide range of experiences and beliefs (including those that are culturally and/or environmentally based) that influence their personal and academic development and needs. Recognizing and valuing learning differences, cultural, linguistic, socioeconomic and experiential backgrounds, and committing to work with individuals in complex metropolitan communities, demand that we intentionally, actively address issues of diversity including, but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, language differences, disability, multiculturalism, and how these attributes affect and are affected by education and/or counseling.

The importance of these issues to the GSE has been evident in our specialized programs (for example, bilingual school psychology, bilingual school counseling, early childhood special education) and our multicultural/urban education core degree requirements. But because we believe specialized foundational courses alone such as "Race and Multicultural Education," "Historical, Philosophical, and Multicultural Foundations of American Education," "Including Exceptional Students",  or more advanced courses, such as "Multicultural Counseling" and "Impact of Prejudice on Minority Groups in America" are not sufficient support to help our candidates meet the needs of all of their future students and clients, GSE faculty have endeavored to incorporate these issues purposefully and appropriately throughout GSE courses.

Context for Learning and Work

Many activities and needs are context-dependent. We value community and collaboration and commit the School's efforts to serve in complex metropolitan communities. We recognize the influence of family and community on individuals, the benefits and constraints ofgroup experience, and the power of collaborative effort towardmutual goals. Curricula address the individual in family and community settings, the development of professional interactions for the benefit of students and clients, and context-sensitive strategies for educators, administrators, psychologists, and counselors to meet needs within the community.

We also recognize that a contributing factor to program excellence is the level of meaningfulness, or "fit" with the needs of the programs, participants and stakeholders. Thus, our programs are designed, reviewed and refined with formal and informal input from the candidates and graduates, and from our school, university, local, state, national and professional communities they serve. This extended sense of community is also a means by which we participate in the nationwide effort for education reform and model an understanding of the systemic relationships that exist in and beyond the classroom and school.

Commitment to Technology

The University has made major strides in developing technological resources for its instructional and administrative functions during the past few years (e.g. , the use of Tk20 and SMART board technology in each classroom).

With respect to the GSE, it may briefly be stated that its programs are committed to developing candidates' knowledge and skill in the use of technology to improve student learning. In the GSE there are specific courses in computer technology and multi-media applications and within other program courses there are activities and assignments involving technological applications (e.g. , data retrieval for research, lesson plan development, networking and communication).
Nowadays, most candidates come to the GSE with their own e-mail addresses and familiarity with common software applications (for example, word processing, spreadsheets) and the internet. However, the University provides all students and faculty with a free e-mail account and access to several computer labs and a variety of software applications. Within the GSE, there also exist specialized computer facilities and a dedicated instructional technology center for GSE candidates and faculty.

In addition, the University maintains a Media Center with a variety of equipment that is used by candidates and faculty-overheads, powerpoint, slide projectors, video players, tape recorders, movie projectors, etc.

Some faculty now make extensive use of Blackboard for support of their instructional activities, communicate with candidates extensively over e-mail, and maintain their own websites with instructional and research materials. All faculty are expected to utilize our electronic submission system with students in courses that contain assignments in our aggregate evaluation system.

 

Candidate Proficiencies Aligned with Professional and State Standards

The initial and advanced programs for the preparation of teachers and other school personnel have been designed and implemented to adhere to the professional standards of the appropriate professional societies and organizations representing their respective disciplines, as well as those standards mandated by the New York State Education Department.

The various professional groups promulgating specific minimum standards to which our programs have been designed to comply include:

  • Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC)
  • National Board for Professional Teacher Standards (NBPTS)
  • Educational Leadership Constituent Council (ELCC)
  • American Psychological Association (APA)
  • The New York State Education Department (NYSED),Commissioner's Regulations, and Specialty Professional Associations (SPAs) in the discipline areas of: Childhood Education (Association for Childhood Education International-ACEI)
  • Early Childhood Education (National Association for the Education of Young Children - NAEYC)
  • English Education (National Council of Teachers of English-NCTE)
  • Literacy Education (International Reading Association-IRA)
  • Mathematics Education (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics-NCTM)
  • School Psychology (National Association of School Psychologists-NASP)
  • Science Education (National Science Teachers Association-NSTA)
  • Social Studies Education (National Council for Social Studies-NCSS)
  • Special Education (Council for Exceptional Children-CEC)
  • Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

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