Conceptual Framework

Conceptual Framework picture

Gustavus Adolphus College Teacher Education Program

TEACHING AS PRINCIPLED PRACTICE

The conceptual framework undergirds the Gustavus Teacher Education Program. Initial structuring of the framework was based on the five attributes of a teacher education program knowledge base presented by Galluzzo and Pankratz (1991). Our conceptual framework is not static but in fact represents the dynamics of an ever-changing professional landscape. The current 2011 redesign continues to be framed by our core philosophical tenets, the research literature, program outcomes, and complete evaluation procedures and processes which guide feedback to the candidate and the program.

Vision and Mission

The Education Department is committed to the preparation of 21st century teachers who understand the complexities of learning and teaching that encompass inclusion, equity, and justice. This work is enhanced by a liberal arts foundation that encourages breadth of knowledge, interdisciplinary and international perspectives, engaged inquiry, and intellectual curiosity.

The organizing theme of the Education Department’s mission is “teaching as principled practice.” We strive to help our candidates acquire skills of analysis and reflection, a broad knowledge base, and an array of experiences that will enable them to articulate and examine their own beliefs about teaching and learning and to set those beliefs into action.

The Education Department mission is to prepare candidates who implement “principled practice” – reflective, student-centered, democratic, inclusive, equitable, and authentic teaching and learning. This mission is facilitated by the strong liberal arts and professional preparation of the candidates.

Our goal for graduates of our program, as professionals and educational leaders, is that they:

  • Make informed teaching and learning decisions based on use of best practice, reflection, and new knowledge;
  • Act as leaders for positive social change within schools and communities;
  • Advocate for their students’ intellectual, physical, and emotional well being;
  • Understand cultural and linguistic diversity, and promote anti-racist, gender fair, and inclusive educational opportunities for all students;
  • Defend their instructional choices on the basis of pedagogical, moral, and ethical grounds;
  • View teaching as a journey of learning;
  • Proactively profess and advocate well-developed teaching beliefs, and participate in decision-making, not as mere technicians, but as positive agents of change;
  • Understand the complex layers that inherently frame their thinking and behavior as it relates to the profession of teaching, as defined in the conceptual framework.

Philosophy and Historical Background

The Gustavus conceptual framework is grounded in a belief that learning is largely constructivist, that is, the learner constructs knowledge based upon background knowledge, cultural frames of reference, experience, instructional influences, and reflective processes. Action, performance, or experience is then central to learning [and teaching]. These beliefs are founded in Dewey (1938) [a cycle of impulse, observation, knowledge, judgment, and purpose] and Kolb (1984) [a cycle of concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation].

The Gustavus Department of Education has as its organizing theme "teaching as principled practice." Grossman (1990) discussed the concept of teaching as principled practice in her description of an English methods’ class instructor, his strategies in the classroom, and the philosophy that undergirded his classroom practices. She depicts principled practice as:

“...the need for teachers to understand the reasons behind their instructional choices, to be able to explain why they do what they do. Principled practice implies that while there are no absolute answers or sure solutions to most of the dilemmas of teaching, teachers must try to connect their choice of instructional activities to their understanding of the underlying purposes for the teaching of English,” (Grossman, 1990, p. 121).

Like the English teacher featured by Grossman, we seek to foster in candidates the ability to explain why they do what they do in the classroom. We would like teachers to exit our program with an ability to defend their instructional choices on the basis of pedagogical, moral, and ethical grounds, as well as utilize data to support their instructional decisions.  It is our goal to help them realize that no one possesses "the correct answer" for their teaching dilemmas and challenges. Instead, we strive to help them acquire the skills of analysis and reflection, a broad knowledge base, and an array of experiences that will enable them to articulate and examine their own beliefs about teaching and learning, and to set those beliefs into action. Like Tom (1984), we hold that teaching is not simply a technical enterprise, with a discrete set of skills to be acquired, but rather it contains a moral and ethical basis as well. We also believe, as Dr. Darling Hammond (2000) states, that “As teachers look beyond their own actions to appreciate the understandings and experiences of their students, and evaluate these in light of their self-developed knowledge of individual learners and their professional knowledge of factors influencing development and learning, they grow wiser about the many ways in which learning and teaching interact” (p.171).

Our conceptual framework, based on our beliefs, applies the ideas of Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989), as well as those of Smith (1990), and is best summarized in the following: The components (know and believe; experience; and reflect/analyze ) interact (and in reality are inseparable) with each other in a continual, cyclical process to create or determine our classroom practices. As Brown et al. note, "A concept, for example, will continually evolve with each new occasion of use because new situations, negotiations, and activities inevitably recast it in a new, more densely textured form" (p. 33). Likewise, classroom practices will evolve as a student’s knowledge base of theories and research is expanded through coursework, conferences, professional reading, etc.; tested in the crucible of the classroom, school, or some other setting; and examined and reflected on in terms of their principles and desired outcomes.

Incorporating these ideas and beliefs, “principled practice” at Gustavus is thus comprised of three primary components contributing to and informing the framework:

1) our conceptualization of knowledge/beliefs including that regarding the research on teaching/learning and theories of teaching/learning; 

2) our past, present, and imagined experiences, both inside and outside the classroom; and

3) our reflection on and analysis of our experiences, knowledge, and practices.

These components: knowledge, experience, and reflective analysis, are further connected by the processes of planning, assessing, and reconceptualizing, which leads to teacher learning and awareness of the impact of their pedagogical decisions.

Acknowledging the work of Brown, Collins, and Duguid (1989) and Duncan-Andrade & Morrell (2008), we also hold that knowledge/beliefs, cognition (and activity) are situated in a culture (both the school culture and the individual student’s culture) that has its own set of values and ways of utilizing the knowledge or activities a participant brings to the setting.  This, then, was our conceptual model until 2011:

Description: onceptual Framework picture

However, in light of on-going research in teacher education, continued conversations and expanded understanding of the changing needs of learners, and our expectations for our candidates, we added the frame of culture, metacognition, and discourse as a lens for looking at “principled practice.” These concepts (metacognition, culture, and discourse) provide the context for teaching and learning at Gustavus.

It was identified that candidates need to be keenly aware of the impact of culture on their students’ learning as well as on their own learning and teaching. As Gay (2000) says, connecting learning with students’ lives provides a sense of purpose for their learning. The language used for learning also needs to be attended to, providing candidates with the academic language they need as well as acknowledging the challenges of language learning that diverse students often bring to the classroom (Duncan, 2008). Preparation for living in the 21st century requires that students do more than acquire knowledge, but that they think at higher levels and consider how they approach problems and analyze information (Shoen, 1983). Consideration of these concepts must be a part of all teaching and learning decisions.  Candidates need to view their work through the lenses of culture, discourse, and metacognition if they are to effectively implement “principled practice.”

Our job as teacher educators is to ensure that all the components of "principled practice" are engaged in by our candidates, and that the principles held highest and used as the basis for judgment of outcomes and experiences are those outlined in these foundational documents and in program curriculum. To that end, the Education Department ensures that candidates have opportunities to experience the conceptual framework in their coursework and discussions of their work and learning. Our candidates will take what they know and believe, use planful thinking to experience their learning in context, assess this experience, and, after reflection and analysis, reconceptulize what they know, resulting in new understandings related to their knowledge and beliefs. This process of reflective practice, or inquiry-oriented teaching, engages the candidate in a cycle of “thought and action based on professional experience” (Wellington, 1991) that includes aspects that are both sequential and cyclical (Smyth, 1989). As they engage in this process, candidates are asked to consider the following contextual constructs: the discourse utilized in the learning; how culture (both theirs and their students’) intersects with the teaching and learning; and what metacognitive processes both the student and teacher utilize. In this way, candidates develop an understanding and awareness of the framework that surrounds teaching and learning and are able to use this frame as a basis for constructing and evaluating the interactions in their classrooms.

This program’s experiential and reflective model of improvement captures the process of teaching and learning.  It is shaped and characterized by the concepts listed within the framework. The program outcomes and evaluation procedures and processes that guide feedback to the candidate and to the program are embedded in this model and in courses and experiences throughout the program.  Furthermore, these broader program outcomes are specifically aligned with the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice for Teachers and are reflected in our Statement of Professional Behavior.

This updated model illustrates a view of the complexity and multiple layers that are inherent in teaching and learning that is situated and expansive (Hatch & Grossman, 2009). This model incorporates our frame of reference for teacher education at Gustavus, and is represented in the following graphic:

conceptual framework

The conceptual framework is shared in department literature and at various orientation points during initial advising, at pre-admission orientation meetings, at the celebration/orientation for newly admitted candidates, and in education courses throughout the program.  More importantly, the department crafts learning experiences as well as procedures and policies that model the knowledge base and beliefs expressed in the conceptual framework.  This work of a principled practitioner needs to take place in a context where candidates are thinking about their thinking as it relates to their work with students (metacognition), as well as fostering their students’ higher level thinking; exploring cultural connections and influences on their learners (culture) and considering the ways in which we communicate about the knowledge that is being learned (discourse). This updated model provides this lens and enhances the development of candidates here at Gustavus. 

Thus, Gustavus candidates and teacher educators:

Know and Believe:

  • The need to understand and consider the moral and ethical dimensions of teaching.
  • That decisions made about teaching and learning need to be based upon subject matter knowledge and knowledge of context and pedagogy (Grossman, 1990), as well as a knowledge of the students.
  • That they need to rely on and advocate for sound liberal learning, extensive disciplinary learning, culturally relevant curricula, and interdisciplinary thinking.
Plan:
  • By making teaching and learning decisions based on an understanding of the moral and ethical dimensions of teaching.
  • By making decisions about teaching and learning based upon subject matter knowledge and knowledge of context, pedagogy (Grossman, 1990), and assessment.
  • By incorporating knowledge of the student and his/her culture and learning needs into instructional and curricular decisions (Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008).
Experience:

•  By engaging in experiences (academic studies, research, practicum, and student teaching, or through their own interaction in a K-12 classroom) that reflect:

    • Sound liberal learning, extensive disciplinary knowledge and interdisciplinary thinking, and effective pedagogy.
    • Culturally responsive teaching (Gay, 2000).
    • Nurturing relationships that foster inquiry, achievement, and cooperation for all learners.
    • Inclusive, equitable, and collaborative learning communities created to enrich learning and stimulate reflective analysis.
    • Reciprocal partnerships with learners, families, communities, and colleagues.
Assess:
  • By employing a variety of ongoing strategies for formative and summative assessment to understand learning (Popham, 2008) and the impact of teacher on the learner.
  • By providing honest, descriptive, analytical feedback to assist in their own and their students' learning.

Reflect and Analyze:

  • By considering the intersection of knowledge and classroom events that are behind the notion of reflective practice, or inquiry-oriented teaching, where the teacher engages in a cycle of “thought and action based on professional experience” (Wellington, 1991), that includes four aspects that are both sequential and cyclical (Smyth, 1989): describing, informing, confronting, and reconstructing.
  • By considering the notion that reflection is a “purposeful, systematic inquiry into practice” (Schon, 1983), and emphasizing that “professionals should learn to frame and reframe problems they face, test out various interpretations, and modify their results” (Hatton & Smith, 1995), including analyzing assessment data to inform their instructional decisions as a discursive process (Ottesen, 2007).
  • By creating inclusive, equitable, and collaborative learning communities to enrich learning and stimulate reflective analysis.

    Reconceptualize

  • By anticipating the complexity and inter-relatedness of student background and development, curriculum, and the problems and challenges faced by 21st century learners.
  • Through the ongoing and cyclic application of new knowledge and understandings in their classroom, based on prior planning, experiences, assessment data, and reflection.
  • By recognizing that reconceptualization comes from the development of students’ understanding of teaching that requires “knowledge and experience of concepts (as taught) and knowledge and experience of the practice from which it is derived and applied” (Smagorinsky, et al., 2003).

Relationship of the Conceptual Framework to the Standards of Effective Practice

The Gustavus Conceptual Framework can stand alone as a model of what candidates education should know and be able to do.  However, the Minnesota Standards of Effective Practice connect directly to the Conceptual Framework model and reinforce these aspects of Principled Practice. Thus, the language of the SEP is consistent with the language of the Conceptual Framework.

Know and Believe =

Standard 1, subject matter. A teacher must understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the disciplines taught and be able to create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

Standard 2, student learning.  A teacher must understand how students learn and develop and must provide learning opportunities that support a student's intellectual, social, and personal development.

Standard 3, diverse learners. A teacher must understand how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to students with diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities.

 

Plan =

Standard 1, subject matter. A teacher must understand the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the disciplines taught and be able to create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.

Standard 3, diverse learners. A teacher must understand how students differ in their approaches to learning and create instructional opportunities that are adapted to students with diverse backgrounds and exceptionalities.

Standard 4, instructional strategies. A teacher must understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to encourage student development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.

Standard 7, planning instruction. A teacher must be able to plan and manage instruction based upon knowledge of subject matter, students, the community, and curriculum goals.

 

Experience =

Standard 4, instructional strategies. A teacher must understand and use a variety of instructional strategies to encourage student development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.

Standard 5, learning environment. A teacher must be able to use an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create learning environments that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.

Standard 6, communication. A teacher must be able to use knowledge of effective verbal, nonverbal, and media communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.

Standard 10, collaboration, ethics, and relationships. A teacher must be able to communicate and interact with parents or guardians, families, school colleagues, and the community to support student learning and well-being.

 

Assess =

Standard 8, assessment. A teacher must understand and be able to use formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the student.

 

Reflect and Analyze =

Standard 8, assessment. A teacher must understand and be able to use formal and informal assessment strategies to evaluate and ensure the continuous intellectual, social, and physical development of the student.

Standard 9, reflection and professional development. A teacher must be a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of choices and actions on others, including students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community, and who actively seeks out opportunities for professional growth.

Reconceptualize =

Standard 9, reflection and professional development. A teacher must be a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates the effects of choices and actions on others, including students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community, and who actively seeks out opportunities for professional growth.


Framework References

Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18

(1), 32-42.

 

Darling-Hammond, L. (2000). How teacher education matters. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(3), 166-173.

 

Duncan-Andrade, J., & Morrell, E. (2008). The art of critical pedagogy: Possibilities for moving from theory to practice in

urban schools. New York: Peter Lang.

 

Galluzo, G., & Pankratz, R. (1991). Five attributes of a teacher education program knowledge base. Journal of Teacher

Education, 41(4), 7-14.

 

Gay, G. (2000). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, & practice. New York: TeachersCollege Press.

 

Grossman, P. (1990). The making of a teacher. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

Hatch, T., & Grossman, P. (2009). Learning to look beyond the boundaries of representation: Using technology to examine

teaching (Overview for digital exhibition: Learning from the practice of teaching). Journal of Teacher Education, 60(1), 70-85.

 

Hatton, N., & Smith, D. (1995). Reflection in teacher education: Toward definition and implementation. Teaching and

Teacher Education, 11(1), 33-49.

 

Hoban, G. (1999). Using a reflective framework for experiential education in teacher education classes. Journal of

Experiential Education, 22(2), 104-111.

 

Ottesen, E. (2007). Reflection in teacher education. Reflective Practice, 8(1), 31-46.


Popham, J. (2008). Transformative assessment. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

Schöen, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books.

 

Smagorinsky, P., Cook, L. S., & Johnson, T. S. (2003). The twisting path of concept development in learning to teach.

(CELA Research Report No. 16002). Albany, NY: National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement. (ERIC

Document Reproduction Service No. ED478817).

 

Smith, F. (1990). To think. New York: Teachers College Press.

 

Smyth, J. (1989). Developing and sustaining critical reflection in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 40(2),

2-9. Tom, A.  (1984). Teaching as a moral craft. New York: Longman.

 

Yost, D. S., Sentner, S. M., & Forlenza-Bailey, A. (2000). An examination of th construct of critical reflection: Implications

for teacher education programming in the 21st century. Journal of Teacher Education, 51(1), 39-49.

 

Wellington, B. (1991). The promise of reflective practice. Educational Leadership, 48(6), 4-5.

 

Zembal-Saul, C., Blumenfeld, P., & Krajcik, J. (2000). Influences of guided cycles of planning, teaching, and reflection on

prospective elementary teachers’ science content representations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(4),

318-339.