The conceptual framework for both the initial and advanced programs at Prairie View A&M University has evolved over the last twelve years to view educators as facilitators of learning for diverse populations.
The framework consists of the following four major goals undergirded by technology: Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, and Decision Making; Reflective and Continual Learning; Student Growth and Development; and Human Diversity and Global Awareness. The components of the conceptual framework are incorporated in the course syllabi throughout the Unit.
The conceptual framework was developed by the Unit's candidates, staff, school partners, and faculty after extensive review of the literature in education and guidelines of learned societies. The conceptual framework is based upon current issues such as changes in demographics, global perspectives, importance of problem solving, critical thinking and decision-making skills, technological demands, and the need for life-long learning.
The conceptual framework is predicated on the philosophy that the Unit prepares educators to work in a multicultural world where change occurs constantly. A guiding philosophy of the Unit educators is that all candidates must be encouraged to invest in their own learning processes. Professional educators must provide candidates with opportunities to develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes that will enable them to become competent and efficient decision makers and reflective, inquiring professionals who are productive contributors in a culturally diverse society. This basic philosophy guides the Unit in planning and implementation of course work and experiences in all of its programs.
History and Development of the Conceptual Framework
The conceptual framework originally adopted by the Unit in 1993 was guided by the Essential Elements contained in the Texas Education Agency 1987 Standards for Teacher Education. In 1995, the 74th Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 1 which required the States Board of Education to develop the essential knowledge and skills for various subjects taught for kindergarten through grade 12. Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS ) were integrated into the public school curricula effective September 1, 1998. In 1997, the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) revised the contents of the Examination for the Certification of Educators in Texas (ExCET) to reflect the mastery of TEKS by prospective teachers.
Faculty and administrators in professional education and in content areas spent considerable time during the 1997-98 year on integrating TEKS into the undergraduate academic course syllabi and classroom instruction. The Unit held a day-long retreat on TEKS for its faculty on August 17, 1998 and a three-hour symposium on November 16, 1998 for content area faculty and administrators.
The Accountability System for Educator Preparation (ASEP) mandated by Senate Bill 1 and adopted by the State Board for Educator Certification became effective on September 1, 1998. The ASEP determines the accreditation status of educator preparation entities in the state on the basis of performance of their candidates on the ExCET examinations. The educator preparation entities must meet the minimum standards of ExCET pass rates in all seven demographic groups-All, Female, Male, African-American, White, Hispanic, and Other. Prairie View A&M University has met these standards for all demographic groups and has earned the Accredited status during all years since September 1, 2000.
In the summer of 2004 the Unit’s committee on conceptual framework recommended the substitution of “Educator” for “Teacher” in the title of the conceptual framework. It also recommended modifications to reflect the importance of technology. The new title “Educator as Facilitators of Learning for diverse Populations” (E-FOLD-P) depicts educator as a teacher, administrator, counselor, or any other educational professional.
Learning should be directed toward meeting the needs of diverse populations. To accomplish this, program graduates must move beyond their own personal experiences and, as a result, value the experiences of all people. Learning should also be directed toward meeting the needs of a changing society. Learning, therefore, is the acquisition of personal meaning rather than simply a measurable outcome.
The four major goals of the conceptual framework are described in some detail below:
Problem Solver/Critical Thinker/Decision Maker
The problem solver/thinker/decision maker fosters intellectual curiosity, open-mindedness, and respect for other viewpoints. This facilitator is guided by belief systems reflective of philosophical and historical knowledge of teaching and learning, knows subject matter in depth, can engage in the pursuit of new knowledge in the field, and can use a variety of methods including technological innovations. The problem solver/critical thinker/decision maker can analyze educational problems and develop solutions, can teach by inquiry, and can help students enhance their knowledge of the subject through problem solving.
Reflective and Continual Learner
The reflective and continual learner knows the fundamental principles of teaching and learning and uses that knowledge to guide his or her actions when confronted with real-world classroom problems. The learner knows how to improve a teaching or learning situation using the fundamental principles. The reflective and continual learner thinks as a professional educator, can use critical reflection, values professional interactions, and uses self-reflection to improve teaching situations constructively.
Student Growth and Development
The facilitator of student growth and development can demonstrate subject matter expertise and make the subject meaningful for students. This facilitator is knowledgeable of curriculum development and design, has evaluative skill in designing experiences for students, and can help students effectively achieve goals of instruction.
Human Diversity and Global Awareness
The facilitator of learning within diverse populations and environments knows how to help and assist all students especially those who have difficulty, those who are under prepared, or those with exceptional needs. The facilitator understands teacher or professional educator in emphasizing cultural Diversity and global perspectives. This teacher knows how to create learning climates that foster respect and trust and can provide learners multiple paths to new knowledge.
The conceptual framework is anchored by the theme, “Educator as facilitator of learning for a diverse population.” This theme is central to the mission of the Unit as it works together in the preparation programs in the College of Education, College of Arts and Sciences, and College of Agriculture and Human Sciences.
The work of the Unit is based on the fundamental belief that the candidates in teacher preparation programs at Prairie View A&M University should have an identified curriculum that supports the development of broad content and pedagogical knowledge, effective skills in teaching diverse groups of students, and the personal and professional skills needed to teach in contemporary classrooms. Further, it is the belief of the faculty that the conceptual framework be grounded in research and the wisdom of practice that is shared among candidates and the broader learning community.
The conceptual framework has been shared with candidates through classroom discussions and outcomes required in core courses. In addition, the conceptual framework has been shared with our colleagues at the University, the various college and university committees, and a variety of print materials. The conceptual framework is shared with our P-12 colleagues through the PVAMU Local Cooperative Education Advisory Board through program handbooks which are given to all field supervisors and site administrators.
The Unit’s philosophical purpose and goals are bound in the coherence that brings the faculty together in serving three distinct client groups: undergraduates seeking initial teacher certification, advanced candidates seeking to enter academia or to return to the classroom with enhanced skills and certification, and classroom teachers, specialists, and school leaders engaged in professional development. The goal of the Unit, through preparing “Educators as facilitators of learning for diverse populations,” is to help all candidates become reflective educators who act upon their reflections while responding to contexts that may change on a daily, or even hourly, basis. The Unit principles emphasized in the conceptual framework provide a system for ensuring coherence among program development, course work, clinical practice, and assessment of candidate performance across a candidate's program. The graphic representation of the Unit conceptual framework illustrates the interaction among knowledge, skills and dispositions and highlights the Unit’s focus on assessment and results.
A governance structure is in place to ensure that all of the programs are consistent with the conceptual framework. The Teacher Education Admission Committee and departmental Graduate Admission Committees make final decisions to admit candidates to programs. The PVAMU Local Cooperative Education Advisory Board comprised of faculty and representatives from 32 school districts review all program changes and initiatives to insure their congruence with the University and Unit goals and the state requirements.
Professional Commitments and Dispositions
This Unit’s philosophy is articulated in the core beliefs and dispositions that drive the conceptual framework, guide the development of programs, and guide the delivery of each program. These core beliefs and dispositions are born of consideration for the Unit’s goals for excellence in teaching; the examination of established national, state, and Unit standards for teaching and learning; and the review of curriculum experiences and expectations in all programs. Unit constituents hold these beliefs and dispositions to be central to accomplishment of national and Texas standards for teaching excellence leading to teacher candidates who can be successful in making a significant difference in student learning. These beliefs are intended to influence the teacher candidate beyond the program and throughout professional development. The Unit’s core beliefs direct the development and refinement of programs, courses, design of instruction, research, service and assessment. They influence the Unit’s organization and design of what teacher candidates should know, the dispositions they should reflect, the skills they should be able to exhibit, and the kinds of assessment and evaluation used to gauge the performance of the teacher candidate.
The Unit’s core beliefs include the following value statements:
Thus, as evidenced by the above beliefs, the Unit’s philosophy emphasizes the importance of preparing dedicated, skilled professionals who are able and willing to work with diverse populations to provide a variety of experiences to ensure the continuous learning success of diverse learners.
The Unit defines dispositions as patterns of behavior that are influenced by beliefs and values. The Unit believes eight core dispositions are associated with becoming a highly effective professional educator. The dispositions are aligned with the core beliefs stated above. They are also aligned with the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) principles that are, in turn, aligned with the Texas Standards for beginning teachers.
The Unit’s philosophy and purposes are articulated in the core beliefs and dispositions, together with research of best practices, professional standards, and the experiential base of faculty, lead to the basic goals or outcomes of the teacher education program. Because these goals are an outgrowth of the Unit’s vision, mission, philosophy, core beliefs, and dispositions, and because these goals are aligned with the INTASC principles and Texas standards that are integral components of the conceptual model, the goals are the unifying element in this conceptual framework
Commitment to Diversity
Understanding and appreciating human Diversity is one of the primary goals of the Unit’s conceptual framework. The Unit ensures that knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to Diversity are integrated into all coursework field experiences and assessments. The field experiences including student teaching, practicum, and internships occur in rural, urban and suburban school districts with highly diverse student populations, in terms of race, ethnicity, national origin and economic status. Individual courses provide multiple opportunities for candidates to examine cultures other than their own. The wide range of Diversity within the Houston metropolitan area and the surrounding rural areas provides a valuable resource from which the candidates can gain experiences with persons from different backgrounds and with different points of view.
Commitment to Technology
The Unit’s commitment to technology is demonstrated through course experiences and assessments requiring the use of technology to collect, organize, analyze and present information. The Unit faculty is committed to the effective use of educational and informational technology. This is evidenced in a variety of ways: online, interactive televised, WebCT based, and internet based classes; classroom assignments; electronic communication between faculty and candidates; the use of electronic portfolios; and research assignments.
Candidate Proficiencies Aligned with Professional and State Standards
All educator preparation programs offered by the Unit are aligned with the standards of the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) and have received full accreditation from SBEC for five consecutive years based on candidate performance on the state licensure examinations. The standards of various specialty professional associations have been incorporated into the program reports submitted to these associations last fall. In 2001, the University received its most recent accreditation from the Commission on Colleges of Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The conceptual framework also is aligned with the standards of Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC).