II. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
The conceptual framework establishes the shared vision for a unit’s efforts in preparing
educators to work effectively in P-12 schools. It provides direction for programs, courses,
teaching, candidate performance, scholarship, service, and unit accountability. The conceptual
framework is knowledge-based, articulated, shared, coherent, consistent with the unit and/or
institutional mission, and continuously evaluated.
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK ABSTRACT
The mission of the Department of Education at Wagner College is echoed in its strong
commitment to pedagogical practice that is inclusive and constructivist. The unit aims to prepare
teacher candidates to work with diverse populations by remaining committed to the deep-seated
disposition that all students can learn. Candidates are encouraged to model a constructivist view
of knowledge and see learning as a self-regulated process. The unit’s ultimate goal is to prepare
caring, curious, competent, committed, and community-active professionals (the 5 C’s).
The teacher education program, that prepares students to practice in inclusive settings, has two
(1) To help students understand and apply constructivist learning theory
(2) To help students, as they gradually progress through the program, to develop
an identity as a teacher
To accomplish the unit’s ultimate goal and these aforementioned two objectives, systematic
assessments at four portals or key transition points in the program (Portal 1 Exploration; Portal 2
Reflection; Portal 3 Consolidation; and Portal 4 Empowerment) have been identified. Students at
these various portals are assessed to the degree to which they are meeting the student Learning
Outcomes that the unit divided into specific knowledge, skills, and dispositions. See Figure II.I
that depicts the conceptual framework curriculum model
Summary of key ideas in conceptual framework:
I inclusion and constructivism
II the 5C’s
III developmental approach to becoming a teacher
IV assessment at 4 portals
V student Learning Outcomes divided into knowledge, skills, and dispositions
See NCATE Exhibit DOC. 4.1
The unit’s conceptual framework aims to create and nurture The 5 C’s: Caring, Curious,
Competent, Committed, and Community-Active Professionals. The framework is based on
essential knowledge, skills, and dispositions derived from current established research and sound
professional practice. Although the unit’s ultimate goal is to encourage practitioners who are
caring, curious, competent, committed, and community-active the framework is meant to
fundamentally engage and challenge candidates to incorporate a constructivist and inclusive
approach to thought and action.
The 5 C’s:
Caring, Curious, Competent, Committed, and Community-Active Professionals
The motto of the unit focuses on “making connections.”
In pursuit of the 5 C’s:
Caring - “We should educate all our children not only for competence but also for caring. Our
aim should be to encourage the growth of competent, caring, loving, and lovable people.” (Nel
Curiosity — “reflective process is a powerful approach to professional development.” (Karen
Osterman & Robert Kottkamp)
Competence “We propose an audacious goal . . . by the year 2006, America will provide all
students in the country with what should be their educational birthright: access to competent,
qualified teachers” (National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future)
Commitment — “I touch the future — I teach.” (attributed to Christa McAuliffe)
Community — “Both individual and collective life are, in fact, interdependent enterprises. No
one creates or lives life alone! People do better at achieving qualitative lives when they
collaborate, interact, and communicate with each other.” (Geneva Gay & Pamula Hart)
The unit has adopted a developmental approach to teacher preparation. Each developmental
stage represents knowledge of general and disciplinary content, and pedagogical content from a
prescribed sequence of courses. Candidates are assessed at the beginning or at the end of each
stage to ascertain their worthiness to continue with the program. The following sequential portals
(stages) constitute the developmental approach to becoming a teacher at the Initial level:
• Exploration: the search for self-identity. Students either beginning a four-year
undergraduate program or contemplating a graduate program to change a career
are exploring their interest and abilities to become teachers.
• Reflection: the consideration of what it means to be an effective teacher. Both
undergraduate and graduate students explore and reflect upon their commitment
• Consolidation: the integration of knowledge, skills, and dispositions of teaching.
Students are able to recognize the attributes of an effective teacher and
demonstrate their intent to become one.
• Empowerment: the achievement of power and control over their teacher
identity by the celebration of pedagogical judiciousness. Students are committed
to enter their chosen profession equipped with the knowledge, skills, and
dispositions for a successful and rewarding career.
These competencies, providing the essential knowledge, skills and dispositions for effective
instructional practice, together with the requirements associated with general education
knowledge and content knowledge serve to inform the conceptual framework. More specifically,
they form the basis with which the unit developed Standards that informed the identification of
specific Learning Outcomes. The following ten Unit Standards (many of which reflect the
values undergirding the mission of WC, were identified (see conceptual framework document for
explication of each standard):
1. Basic Skills
2. Social/Cultural Knowledge.
4. Advocacy for Social Justice
5. Human Development
6. Communication Skills
7. Specialized Knowledge
8. Teaching/Planning Skills
9. Management and Curriculum
10. Use of Assessment
These 10 Unit Standards became the basis for identifying the Learning Outcomes for candidates
in the unit. The unit felt that framing these standards in terms of Knowledge, Skill, and
Disposition Outcomes would better aid assessment.
The Learning Outcomes at the initial level that follow are implicit to the New York State
Standards (52.21) for teacher preparation (see NCATE Exhibit DOC. 1.24). These New York
State Standards acted as a springboard for the development of these learning outcomes.
A. Specialized Knowledge
The teacher possesses content knowledge and uses such knowledge bases to create meaningful
learning environments for students in inclusive settings.
B. Human Development and Learning
The teacher understands theories underlying inclusive education, and knows how to structure a
learning environment conducive to learning for students with diverse learning styles. The teacher
understands and assesses the developmental approach to becoming a teacher through critical
C. Student Learning
The teacher understands and has knowledge of constructivist learning theory in order to attend to
the individual needs of students and to improve student academic achievement in inclusive
D. Diversity of Learners
The teacher understands and has knowledge of multicultural theories, diversity perspectives,
culturally relevant teaching practices, inclusive strategies, and the foundations of education.
E. Assessment, Evaluation, Technology and Research
The teacher understands and has knowledge of traditional and non-traditional assessment tools,
including portfolio and performance-based assessments and technological applications. The
teacher possesses sufficient knowledge of assessment and research strategies designed to assist,
monitor, and evaluate learning outcomes for all students.
A. Curriculum Development and Instructional Planning
The teacher designs curricula and plans instruction based on knowledge of the subject matter,
student needs, community, and curriculum goals (including State and City performance
standards) for an inclusionary model of instruction.
B. Instructional Methods and Strategies
The teacher uses a variety of developmentally appropriate instructional strategies (i.e.,
differentiated instruction, multiple intelligences, learning styles, cooperative learning, etc.) in
order to facilitate democratic learning communities.
C. Learning Environment
The teacher implements instructional methods and positive behavioral supports that establish a
learning environment that encourages critical thinking, problem solving, and self-regulation.
The teacher uses knowledge of effective verbal and non-verbal communication techniques to
foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive classroom interaction.
E. Assessment. Research and Technology
The teacher uses formal and informal assessment strategies including technology application to
evaluate and assess special learning needs and to ensure the continuous intellectual and social
development of the learner. The teacher will be able to apply the tools of action research to
further evaluate and assess the intellectual and social development of the learner.
A. Lifelong Learning
The teacher demonstrates concern for self-improvement through reflection and professional
The teacher appreciates diversity in school and society and sees the learning potential in every
C. Professional Partnerships
The teacher is committed to collaboration in schools and other learning communities and models
professional and leadership behaviors in all interactions with school, families, and communities.
D. Ethical Behavior
The teacher recognizes that educational practices have ethical implications and is committed to
fostering a democratic learning community of informed decision-makers.
E. Transformative Learning and Teaching
The teacher is committed to personal, school and community change.
NOTE that these 5 C’s become our ultimate goal, as depicted in Figure II.2, and formed the basis
for the 5 dispositions the unit wishes candidates to demonstrate as they seek an initial
certification (see Learning Outcomes above). The 5 C’s align with the Unit Standards and
Dispositions stated in the Learning Outcomes as follows:
Caring: Diversity, Ethical Behavior (Unit Standards 3 and 4)
Curiosity: Lifelong Learning (Unit Standards 3 and 4)
Competence: All Dispositions (Unit Standards 1 and 7 primarily, but relate to all
other Unit Standards as well)
Commitment: Transformative Teaching and Learning (Unit Standards 3 and 4)
Community: Professional Partnerships (Unit Standards 2, 3, 6 and 8)
Evidence collected and compiled by the unit demonstrates that the conceptual framework
encompasses a shared vision. WC as a small residential college of approximately 2100 students
and approximately 95 resident faculty prides itself on its uniqueness. Its smallness is an asset not
only in terms of providing close professional attention to students but also its ability to
collaborate on a shared vision for the institution and unit.
The unit at WC strives for quality and excellence in every facet of the educational program. The
unit aspires to enhance its reputation as a nationally accredited department committed to
nurturing caring, curious, competent, committed, community-active reflective practitioners
who are concerned, above all else, with transforming the lives of their students.
Candidates in the unit are encouraged to develop a deep commitment to inclusion by remaining
steadfast in the belief that all children can learn at some developmentally appropriate level.
Candidates who possess an inclusive predisposition realize that many social and political forces
may impinge on their ability to provide high quality education to all students. Still, these
candidates persist and commit to an inclusive educational and pedagogical model.
The vision in the unit was developed by considering standards and goals of the following
organizations and associations: The New York State Standards for the Teacher Education
Programs, The New York State Regents Standards for B- 12 Students, the Interstate New
Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium Standards (INTASC), and the standards of the
professional organizations — Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Association of
Childhood Education International (ACEI), National Association for the Education of Young
Children (NAEYC), National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), National
Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and National Middle School Association (NMSA) – see
DOC 4.1 for table of alignments with standards. Additionally, the foundation of the unit vision
rests upon current research theories that are fundamental to teaching and learning demonstrated
by faculty who are expertly prepared in the areas that they teach (see NCATE Exhibit DOC.
5.A.-3 and DOC. 5.A.-5).
The unit ensures that the WC mission is subsumed in its conceptual framework. Discussion of
the conceptual framework at various forums over the course of the past three years has
significantly supported a shared vision of commitment to excellence in teacher education.
The unit ensures that its vision of excellence in teacher education is shared across the disciplines
at WC. The way the curriculum is structured at WC demonstrates this integral sharing of vision.
Integral to the shared vision is how the undergraduate curriculum, for instance, is structured.
Candidates at the undergraduate level dual major in a content discipline and education. A brief
All courses at the undergraduate level are measured in units. A unit is approximately 3.3 credits.
Students complete general education requirements and an in depth major(s) totaling 36 course
units. Unless indicated all identified courses are quantified as 1 unit.
The general education curriculum at WC leans heavily on the Learning Community Concept.
Learning Communities are packages of thematically linked courses, enrolling a common cohort
of students. Students in Learning Communities experience both the connection and
contradictions of the ideas and methodologies among their courses. Learning Communities at the
freshman level have an experiential learning component and a reflective tutorial (RFT) which
emphasizes writing skills. The RFT is linked to the academic coursework and the experiential
learning component. At the freshman level, TEPU identified appropriate learning communities
for students intending to major in teacher education. At the sophomore/junior and senior levels
the Learning Communities directly reflect the content of the pedagogical core and the New York
State Regents Student Learning Standards.
WC’s general education program, known as the “liberal arts core” is a constellation of
requirements that provide students with a breadth of knowledge in subjects outside of their
concentration. The “core” helps students to explore multiple domains of knowledge, including
the sciences, the social sciences, the humanities, the arts and various modes of communication.
For a fuller discussion, see NCATE Exhibit DOCs 1.5-1.13 regarding Registration documents.
Coherence is ensured in the design and implementation of the education program through a
collaborative effort between faculties in the arts and sciences and faculties in professional
education. Faculties in each of these divisions work together to ensure a coherent program. In
2000-2001, all of WC’s teacher education programs were redesigned and re-registered in
response to redrafted New York State education regulations. The state’s new regulations align
with NCATE standards, emphasizing clearly-articulated philosophy, purposes, and objectives;
field-based experiences; arts and sciences requirements and articulation with arts and sciences
faculty; knowledge and skills regarding the diversity of learners and their communities;
technology-enhanced learning. Prior to this re-registration process, degrees (i.e., Bachelor of
Science in Education) were awarded to candidates because ownership of educational programs
was sole responsibility of the WCDOE. In the redesign process, liberal arts and sciences assumed
greater responsibility for preparing candidates by partnering with faculty from education.
Bachelor degrees are now awarded in the content area or major discipline
with certification awarded by the unit. Such partnership lends itself most effectively for a more
coherent educational and curricular program.
To provide for a system of coherence among curriculum, instruction, field experiences, clinical
practice, and assessment across a candidate’s program, the unit routinely and systematically
monitors its operations and works collaboratively (i.e., arts and sciences together with education
faculty) to ensure the highest quality of offerings. Coherence is further enhanced in the overall
structure of the curriculum. The conceptual framework incorporates knowledge, skills, and
dispositions the unit deems essential. They are reflected in our program’s knowledge bases and
goals. Student learning outcomes have been derived from these goals, and assessment strategies
developed to reflect the outcomes. Ongoing assessments of outcomes are used to improve the
design of the overall program and its constituent parts. Coherence is also ensured by aligning the
unit’s learning outcomes with SPA standards (see DOC. 4.1) and the Curriculum Mapping
project (see DOC. 4.7). Table II.1 demonstrates the unit’s commitment to coherent
From Concept to Results in Wagner College’s Professional Education Programs
TEACHER EDUCATION POLICY UNIT (TEPU)
The Preparation of Caring, Curious, Competent, Committed, and Community-Active
Ultimate Goal Reflective Practitioners
(The Ultimate Goal of Professional Education Programs at Wagner College)
Conceptual The 5 C’s within a constructivist and inclusive paradigm that are translated into applied
Framework Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions
(The Conceptual Framework Relevant to the Professional Education Program)
Knowledge The Knowledge Base Undergirding the Professional Education Program
Base (see Course Outlines; NCATE Exhibit DOC. 3.16 and DOC. 4.7-Curriculum Mapping)
Expected Outcomes Expected Student Learning Outcomes and Competencies
For Candidates Generic Across All Teacher Education Programs
Program Design/Revision of the Curriculum
Description Goals-Sequence of Courses and Experiences (Curriculum Summary Sheets, see NCATE
Exhibit DOC. 3.12)
Actual Outcomes for Actual Performance Measures*
Candidates Generic Across All Teacher Education Programs (see program assessments Doc. 1.C.-5)
Professional Commitments and Dispositions
Candidates are encouraged to model a constructivist view of knowledge and see learning as a
self-regulated process. Candidates are also encouraged to value inclusive practices that benefit all
learners. Attaining the knowledge and skills to put both of these fundamental concepts into
action are paramount. Knowledge and skill development, however, are not enough. The unit
places much emphasis on ensuring that candidates are professionally committed and personify
Dispositions, values, attitudes, and beliefs are a “subset of a group of constructs that name,
define, and describe the structure and content of mental states that are thought to drive a person’s
actions” (Richardson, 1996, p. 102; note that all citations are formally referenced in the
conceptual framework, see NCATE Exhibit DOC. 4.1). In a sense, however, one’s disposition
(inclination towards some action) and one’s attitude (view towards something or someone) are
influenced fundamentally by one’s beliefs (psychologically held understandings, premises, and
propositions about the world). One’s beliefs may be influenced by many factors including,
among others, family, culture, and experience.
Although a taken-for-granted assumption has been that education programs at the college play a
relatively small role in framing one’s beliefs about teaching and learning (McDiarmid, 1990;
Rokeach, 1968), new research points to shattering this myth (Mahlios & Maxson, 1995). Indeed,
the unit maintains that beliefs can be altered and framed by the unit if they emphasize
exploration of beliefs in a systematic and ongoing way.
Beliefs fundamentally influence our dispositions, attitudes, and, ultimately, human actions.
“Values” are those articulated beliefs that influence what educators do in the classroom and
school. Cognizant of this distinction, the unit has identified those values or ideals considered
important and that reflect the institutional mission and align with NCATE, INTASC, NYS
The unit’s ultimate goal in preparing caring, curious, competent, committed, and community-
active professionals (the 5 C’s) reflects the institutional mission that articulates a commitment to
“critical thinking and reflection, diversity, leadership and citizenship.” Derived from the
aforementioned 10 unit standards, the unit developed five essential dispositions or professional
commitments (i.e., lifelong learning, diversity, professional partnerships, ethical behavior and
transformative teaching and learning) that as a whole enable candidates to personify the 5 C’s
(for assessments related to candidates’ dispositions, see NCATE Exhibit DOC 1 .F.-2 and DOC.
Commitment to Diversity
As an academic community, the unit at WC asserts that diversity is not only an end in itself, but
rather a means of obtaining a larger, important educational goal; that is preparing teacher
candidates to appreciate diversity in its many facets so that they can more effectively design,
implement, and evaluate curriculum and experiences that promote student learning. The unit
prepares teacher candidates to teach and work in inclusive settings with students of diverse
abilities. Candidates are encouraged to develop a deep commitment to inclusion by remaining
steadfast in the belief that all children can learn at some developmentally appropriate level. The
conceptual framework contains a strong inclusive focus that allows for growth and change of
values, knowledge, and practices. The unit is committed to inclusion and works to deliver,
sustain, and advance diversity in teacher education.
The unit’s foundations and methods courses address the nature and needs of diverse populations
inclusive of students with cultural and linguistic differences, special education needs, gender and
sexual orientation difference, socioeconomic and family structure difference, racial and ethnic
variance, geographic region difference as well as students who are deemed at risk. The at-risk
populations include students with drug dependence, teen pregnancy, students in homes
experiencing trauma such as divorce, job loss of death in the family. Candidates develop
knowledge of the nature and needs of diverse populations as well as develop skills in working
the diverse students in inclusive classrooms. Candidate dispositions toward people of all
backgrounds are explored and refined through discussions of personal experience, observation
and course training.
Based upon the NCATE, INTASC, CEC. and others standards (see DOC. 4.1), the unit has
identified three goals for undergraduate and graduate teacher preparation programs:
1. Candidates will develop the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions related to
working with diverse student populations through program curriculum to effectively
challenge students towards cognitive complexity and engage all students through
2. Candidates will participate in extensive and substantive field experiences and clinical
practices involving diverse student populations inclusive of students with
exceptional learning needs and background differences which include ethnicity,
gender, socioeconomic status, language, religion. The experience will help
candidates confront issues of diversity and develop strategies for improving student
learning and effectiveness as teachers.
3. Candidates will interact with diverse faculty in college and schools settings who
represent differing ethnic, gender, language, exceptionality and religious differences
who are sensitive to preparing candidates to work effectively with diverse student
In sum, commitment to diversity is reflected in the institutional mission, mission of the unit, unit
standards, learning outcomes, including dispositions. Examples of how students are expected to
demonstrate an understanding of diversity follow:
1. Candidates required to complete field experiences in schools that have a diverse student
population (i.e., ethnically and culturally) (See e.g., NCATE Exhibit DOC. 3.A.-2)
2. Candidates are prepared to teach in inclusive classrooms (most of the programs in the unit
lead to dual NYS teacher certification in Regular and Special Education)
3. Candidates’ lesson plans reflect differentiated instruction that accommodate the diverse
learning styles of students (See e.g., sample lesson plans and other work at
4. Candidates interact effectively with students, colleagues and peers from diverse backgrounds
(See NCATE Exhibit DOC. 4.B, DOC. 4.C., and DOC. 4.D.)
5. Candidates are sensitive to the different needs of students and peers from diverse
backgrounds, and use curricula materials accordingly
6. Candidates are required to read, reflect, and analyze the ways children’s home language and
literacy environments influence their language and literacy development. They focus on
children who are culturally, linguistically, and economically different from the mainstream.
See NCATE Exhibit DOC. 4.14 for Strategic Plan that addresses diversity.
Commitment to Technology
Consistent with the conceptual framework, the unit acknowledges the importance of preparing
candidates in the use of technology that promotes teaching and learning. Learning Outcomes
have been identified to strengthen technological competencies among candidates. One such
learning outcome follows:
Assessment, Evaluation. Technology and Research
The teacher understands and has knowledge of traditional and non-traditional assessment
tools, including portfolio and performance-based assessments and technological
applications. The teacher possesses sufficient knowledge of assessment and research
strategies designed to assist, monitor, and evaluate learning outcomes for all students.
To best prepare candidates, the unit understands that educational computing and technology
(ECT) is an emerging field that encompasses many sub-disciplines. This field includes
knowledge about and use of computers and related technologies for (1) integration of technology
and curriculum to support learning; (2) delivery, development, prescription, and assessment of
instruction; (3) effective use of computers as an aid to problem solving; (4) school and classroom
management; (5) educational research; (6) electronic information access and exchange; (7)
personal and professional productivity; (8) technical assistance and leadership; and (9) computer
science education. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), of which the
WCDOE is a member, recognizes that educational computing and technology foundations
(NETS for Teachers) are essential for all teachers.
The NCATE standards lie at the heart of quality teacher preparation. ISTE has developed
performance assessment standards that will exhibit knowledge, skills, and dispositions equipping
teachers to teach technology applications; demonstrate effective use of technology to support
student learning of content; and provide professional development, mentoring, and basic
technical assistance for other teachers who require support in their efforts to apply technology to
support student learning.
Based upon ISTE/NCATE National Educational Technology Standards, the unit has identified
three NETS Foundations to integrate into its graduate and undergraduate courses.
1. Technology Operations and Concepts. Candidates will be able to demonstrate a sound
understanding of technology operations and concepts.
2. Planning and Designing Learning Environments and Experiences. Candidates plan and
design effective learning environments and experiences supported by technology.
3. Teaching, Learning and the Curriculum. Candidates implement curriculum plans that
include methods and strategies for applying technology to maximize student learning.
In sum, the unit, as reflected in the conceptual framework, is committed to preparing candidates
to feel comfortable using technology for research, communication, and most importantly as a
teaching tool. Technological literacy is enhanced by:
1. Using Livetext (www.livetext.com) as a comprehensive network of web-based tool- field-
tested, and currently optional - used in ED 335, 613, and 650.
2. Requiring computer course CS 322 - Database Programs and Connectivity – for WC
undergraduates majoring in education.
3. Integrating technology in lesson planning via use of PowerPoint presentations, project-based
concepts for teaching, or the use of educational software. Students are introduced to
Inspiration and its many uses to help promote student learning in the inclusive classroom.
4. Modeling technology use in classroom by faculty (e.g., Dr. Lauria, Dr. Glanz, Dr. Stuckart,
5. Developing electronic multidisciplinary unit plans in, e.g., ED 335, 637, 650.
6. Promoting literacy through technology. Candidates develop lessons that integrate
technological components in literacy, i.e., Classroom Inc., a computer-based program
designed to enhance student’s understandings of the various components of publishing a
magazine. As students begin to design the magazine, they learn how to problem solve, think
critically and use time management skills to work more efficiently.
See NCATE Exhibit DOC. 4.14 for Strategic Plan that addresses technology and College
Technology Plan in NCATE Exhibit DOC. 6.E.-2. Also, provost initiative called “Technobytes”:
provides college-wide discussion forums on ways to integrate technology into teaching.
Technology, as an important learning outcome, is integrated throughout courses in all programs
(see NCATE Exhibit DOC. 3.16), although some courses explicitly address technology (e.g., ED
335 Assessment, Evaluation, and Technology and ED 668 Secondary Education Curriculum &
Methods of Inclusive Instruction: Mathematics and Technology).
Candidate Proficiencies Aligned with Professional and State Standards
Candidate learning outcomes or proficiencies reflect the conceptual framework as well as city,
state, and national standards. Portfolio and coursework assessment, and field experience
evaluations are all aligned with each other and reflect NYS standards, INTASC Principles, and
standards by appropriate professional organizations. See NCATE Exhibit DOC. 4.1.