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C.1. How does the unit's conceptual framework address the following structural elements?

Six goals define the unit’s conceptual framework, 2009.  These goals are:  (1) Knowledge of Self as an Individual and Professional; (2) Knowledge of Content; (3) Knowledge of the Learner; (4) Knowledge of Pedagogy; (5) Knowledge of Self as Partner in a Learning Community; and, (6) Knowledge of Spiritual Self.  The conceptual framework’s goals and performance outcomes provide details.

The Conceptual Framework and the Unit’s Vision and Mission 

The unit is defined as the School of Professional (SOPS).  The unit’s conceptual framework aligns with the unit’s vision and mission.  SOPS mission and heritage statement commits the unit to prepare scholar-practitioners who serve the community as they pursue scholarship and improve professional skills and practices.  Professional formation occurs in a context of Franciscan values and intellectual tradition.  Also, the mission and vision challenge the unit to educate candidates who collaboratively engage with their communities.

The unit’s accredited programs prepare teacher and counselor candidates who are models of professionalism, who practice their professions in an interdependent global community serving a broad spectrum of school-age youth and families.  The unit’s mission and vision define teacher and counselor education programs that support the formation of candidates who evidence the requisite knowledge, skills, and dispositions to become leaders in their professions. Please see SOPS Five-Year Plan (titled Plan-to-Plan), p. 4.

The Conceptual Framework and the Unit’s Philosophy

The conceptual framework embodies the unit’s philosophy.  The conceptual framework’s narrative statements and related performance outcomes reflect the unit’s philosophy.  The unit’s philosophy echoes John Dewey’s words that “education is life.” The unit holds that authentic experiences alone are insufficient.  Rather, for experiences to be instructive, they must be complemented with analytic reflection.  The nature and quality of reflection, in turn, informs the nature and quality of the experiences in which candidates engage.

The Conceptual Framework and the Unit’s Purpose

The unit’s purpose is expressed through its mission statement:  Preparing scholar-practitioners who serve their communities, guided by Franciscan values and intellectual tradition.

Professional preparation is an authentic endeavor.  As an authentic endeavor, professional preparation is both ordinary and notable.  The unit’s purpose is ordinary in that it meets the profession’s charge for candidates to develop a standards-based body of knowledge, skills, and dispositions within a prescribed time frame. At the same time, the unit’s purpose is remarkable in that it strives to infuse ordinary professional preparation with notable (i.e., non-ordinary) experiences. The notable aspect of the unit’s professional preparation compels candidates to view themselves both as scholars and practitioners whose professional work is informed by values (faith) and critical analysis (reason). 

The Conceptual Framework and the Unit’s Goals

The conceptual framework’s six performance goals are derived from the unit’s mission, vision, and philosophy, and reflect the unit’s purpose. In practical terms, the six conceptual framework goals form the foundation of the unit’s performance outcomes (2003-2008, 2009). In turn, the performance outcomes are the criteria by which the unit assesses its candidate performance, program quality, and unit operations.

The conceptual framework’s goals address the unit’s commitment to prepare values-based, reflective scholar-practitioners. The six goals challenge the unit’s candidates, faculty, staff, and administration to learn through (1) critical self-analysis and on-going development. At the same time, self-learning challenges candidates and unit faculty to develop (2) facility with discipline-specific knowledge and skills and (3) [acquisition and refinement of] resources and practices to ensure that all students fulfill…[their] potential. Learning about one’s self, about content, and about the application of skills is highly valued.  As a practical matter, leaning is valuable if it is reflected in the quality of the (4) teaching-learning processes that candidates [and faculty] develop, implement, and assess.

The conceptual framework acknowledges that education is a social process. The social process compels the unit’s candidates and personnel to (5) engage with constituencies in schools, in the profession, and in the community to advance student success.  Finally, the conceptual framework’s goals underscore that the work of candidates, faculty, staff, and administration must be rooted in ideas and practices that are (6) compatible with Franciscan values. 

The Conceptual Framework and the Unit’s Institutional Standards

The conceptual framework aligns with the university’s institutional standards as noted in the University of Saint Francis, Institutional Goals and Outcomes (2009). The university’s eight goals are, in effect, institutional standards to which the unit adheres. These standards hold the unit accountable to its mission, philosophy, and purpose.

The eight institutional standards challenge the unit to (1) live the Catholic and Franciscan tradition of Faith and Reason; (2) be an outstanding learning community; (3) engage and serve students (candidates) and graduates (4) value colleagues; (5) provide a safe and supportive learning environment; (6) build collaborative relationships; (7) secure the future; and (8) improve continuously.  The conceptual framework’s six goals, which include 18 knowledge and skill performance outcomes, align with the eight institutional standards. Details of the alignment are found in Alignment of Institutional Standards with the Unit’s Conceptual Framework

Knowledge bases, including theories, research, the wisdom of practice, and educational policies that drive the work of the unit  

The knowledge bases of the conceptual framework are structured around the organizing principle of ‘Knowledge.”  The unit’s definition of knowledge is “the certainty of knowing that is tentative, subject to evolving.”  Knowledge arises from multiple sources: the “wisdom of the ages,” contemporary scientific-technological discoveries, research-based practices, personal experiences, and societal consensus.  The ‘Knowledge of” terminology reflects the unit’s belief that the authentic experiences and analytic reflection essential to professional preparation must rest on knowledge, both theoretical and practical. 

The Knowledge of Self as an Individual (conceptual framework one) and Knowledge of Self as a Professional (conceptual framework six) are closely linked by the parallel development of the individual self and professional self.  For instance, candidates’ dispositional behaviors and attitudes are developmental (Costa and Kalick). When provided with ongoing, persistent support during appropriate experiences (Darling-Hammond), candidates’ critical reflection on practice becomes habitual (Schon).  Candidates then approach professional experiences with heightened awareness and sensitivity. 

Knowledge of Content (conceptual framework, goal two) holds that content and pedagogy are mutually reinforcing.  This belief is exemplified by the baccalaureate initial licensing merged program model (Blanton and Pugach). The programs in this model prepare candidates to teach both subject discipline content and exceptional needs/mild intervention content.  Evidence of this model is also found in Knowledge of the Learner (conceptual framework, goal three) and Knowledge of Pedagogy (conceptual framework, goal four), where performance outcomes challenge teacher candidates to serve a broad spectrum of students. Candidates are accountable for creating and maintaining effective learning environments to serve.

The conceptual framework’s Knowledge of Self as a Partner in a Learning Community (conceptual framework, goal five) addresses the societal and communal nature of contemporary educators’ work. Candidates are accountable to the populations of their schools and community.  They are expected to apply their knowledge and skills that have been learned in theory and practiced through experiences (Nieto; Noguera).   In keeping with the unit’s mission and philosophy, the role of educator as partner in a learning community is inherently a collaborative one.  Candidates are accountable to their profession, their colleagues, and their school communities. They are expected to pursue personal professional development and engage in endeavors that support the organizations in which they hold positions.  These endeavors should advance the integrity of the profession (Fullan) while preparing candidates to live and work in a diverse, ever-changing society.

The conceptual framework’s Knowledge of Spiritual Self (conceptual framework, goal six) acknowledges that the unit’s work with candidates is premised on the value of the spiritual self.  The spiritual self is understood through the Franciscan ideal of service to others. For candidates, a growing understanding of one’s role in Roman Catholic higher education is gained through lessons learned in living the dynamic of faith and reason, as outline in Ex corde Ecclesiae. Part of the unit’s charge is to foster candidates’ understanding of the faith-reason dynamic.

Candidate proficiencies related to expected knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions, including proficiencies associated with diversity and technology, that are aligned with the expectations in professional, state, and institutional standards

The conceptual framework’s goals and performance outcomes (knowledge, skills, and dispositions) include diversity and technology proficiencies expected of candidates. An example of a proficiency related to diversity is:  the candidate applies knowledge of the multiple facets of student diversity and development to foster learning.  An example of a proficiency related to technology is: the candidate designs and implements the teaching-learning process, incorporating evidence-based strategies, methods, and technologies to ensure the success of all students.

The conceptual framework aligns with standards from the Interstate New Teachers Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC), the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).  These national standards are aligned with State of Indiana content and developmental standards.  Complete documentation of these alignments is available in the on-site Exhibit Room. 

Summarized description of the Unit's Assessment System

The conceptual framework’s goals and performance outcomes are the centerpiece of the unit’s assessment system (UAS).  The unit gathers assessment information from several sources in an ongoing and systematic manner.  The performance outcomes are used to assess candidate performance, program quality, and unit operations. 

To assess candidate performance, the conceptual framework’s performance outcomes guide faculty’s development of analytical trait rubrics (Arter and McTighe, 2001)[1].  Rubric criteria provide details of the knowledge, skills, and dispositions to which candidates are held accountable. In addition to alignment with the conceptual framework, candidate performance outcomes are aligned with national and state professional standards as documented in course matrix charts (baccalaureate, exceptional needs, school counseling) and curriculum alignment matrices (baccalaureate, exceptional needs, school counseling). Charts and matrices for all programs/courses are available in the on-site Exhibit Room. Data on candidate performance are recorded and analyzed with the assistance of the TaskStream data management system.

To assess program quality, some of the assessments which align with the conceptual framework are: aggregated results from candidates’ signature assignments; information from surveys of candidates, alumni, and employers; results from Praxis I and Praxis II exams. TaskStream is used to aggregate candidate performance data into program quality assessment data.  Program quality assessments aligned with the conceptual framework are supplemented with data from the standardized Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI) and faculty evaluations use the Individual Development and Educational Assessment (IDEA) process.  Program quality is also assessed with input from professional advisory councils.

To assess unit operations, the unit aggregates the program quality assessments noted above.  These assessments are supplemented with data from Title II Reports. The Comprehensive Assessment Tracking (CAT) charts (Candidate, Program, Unit) detail the chronology, processes, assessment instruments, and personnel responsibilities that are critical to unit assessment. 

The unit employs a unit assessment manager and unit assessment coordinator to monitor assessment processes and products. To support its assessment system, the unit coordinates its work with the university’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and University Technology Services. 

C.2. What changes have been made to the conceptual framework since the last visit?

The 2003-2008 conceptual framework has undergone notable changes. Changes were occasioned by faculty’s and candidates’ struggles with understanding and operationalizing performance outcomes. The outcomes were, paradoxically, at once too broad and too detailed. Therefore, in 2008, faculty in teacher education and school counseling undertook revisions of the conceptual framework.  The final revised version was approved in fall 2009. The unit refers to the current conceptual framework as the 2009 version.

In the 2009 version, Knowledge of remains the organizing principle of the conceptual framework’s six goals.  Conceptually, the six goals of the framework remain unchanged in meaning, with only minor changes in title terminology. The six goals of the 2009 version provide overarching meaning to the conceptual framework. The 2009 version also includes narrative statements that are central to the unit’s philosophy.  Performance outcomes have been substantially refined to align with the goals and narrative statements.  Finally, the number of performance outcomes in the 2009 version has been substantially reduced.

C.3. How was the conceptual framework developed and who was involved in its development?

Unit faculty led development of both conceptual framework versions, 2003-2008 and 2009.  Faculty ensured that performance outcomes aligned with state and professional standards. Aligned standards include:  Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, Indiana state content and developmental standards, standards from the Council for Exceptional Children, the American School Counselor Association, and the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.  During the 2003-2008 and 2009 revision processes key partners from outside and inside the university participated. Formal sessions were held with participating partners, during which their suggestions were incorporated. Participating partners were: the Teacher Education Committee, current candidates, alumni, and members of the Teacher Education Advisory Council and the School Counseling Program Advisory Council. Unit faculty exercised final approval of the conceptual framework.


[1] Arter, J.A., & McTighe, J. (2001).  Scoring rubrics in the classroom:  Using performance criteria for assessing and improving student performance. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.