Our Conceptual Framework
The desired future of the College of Education at Florida International University is one in which candidates, faculty, and staff embrace the shared experiences of a diverse, international, professional-learning community. The College, therefore, strives to facilitate diverse learning environments where knowledge becomes the means to foster goal attainment for all those involved in the learning process. This process necessitates the highest ethical standards, while emphasizing inquiry as the means-ends connection to enhancing reflective intelligence in a changing social, political, cultural and technological world.
The College of Education is charged to prepare professionals who have the knowledge, abilities, and dispositions to facilitate and enhance learning and development within diverse settings. Consequently, the college promotes and facilitates the discovery, development, documentation, assessment, and dissemination of knowledge related to teaching and learning by developing professional partnerships in the larger community that foster significant educational, social, economic and political change.
To achieve "a wisdom" which influences the conduct of life in the unit, the unit views teaching and learning as self-renewal, in other words, as being similar to living things that renew themselves "through action upon the environment" (Dewey, 1916/1944, p. 2). According to John Dewey (1916/1944), "Education, in its broadest sense, is the means of this social continuity of life" (p. 2). Teaching and learning in the unit thus fosters and nurtures a cultivating process, thus giving attention to the conditions of growth (Dewey, 1916/1944, p. 10). Since "We never educate directly, but indirectly by means of the environment" (Dewey, 1916/1944, p. 19), then the faculty in the unit seeks to create the kind of teaching and learning environments that elicit the mental and moral sensibilities consistent with reflective intelligence (that is making candidates' and the faculty's conduct more intelligent).
Teaching and learning as "self-renewal" suggests that we must cultivate the minds of learners and provide them with the rich intellectual, pedagogical, and dispositional soil to grow personally and professionally. This "soil of learning" must, therefore, be tilled with knowledge of subject, professional and pedagogical knowledge and skills, and dispositions, that is, habits of mind.
The educational environment in the unit, conducive to this philosophy, is thus structured to challenge candidates to engage in the habits of thinking that are consistent with reflective inquiry or as termed by Dewey, "the essentials of reflection" (Dewey, 1916/1944, p. 163).
To engage in reflective inquiry presupposes a form of personal, intellectual and social renewal. Consequently, the unit sees a special connection between growth and the application of things already known (subject matter and skills) for the purpose of improving social conditions. This requires candidates’ acquisition of dispositions both intellectual and social.
Consequently, teaching and learning as self-renewal is meant to help both candidates and faculty develop relevant intellectual and social dispositions that reinforce their being "mindful" and thoughtful in their professional practice.
The unit's learning outcomes for candidates at both the initial and advanced levels are that graduates will be:
(a) Stewards of the Discipline - having the necessary concepts, knowledge and understandings in their respective field of study.
(b) Reflective Inquirers - knowing how to use the requisite generic skills needed to apply the content and pedagogical content.
(c) Mindful Educators - being able to apply the dispositions, that is, habits of mind (intellectual, and social) that render professional actions and conduct more intelligent.
These outcomes are justified in the knowledge base research literature by findings which conclude that:
(a) Teachers and other school personnel should have a deep understanding of content, and of how to make content accessible,
(b) Teachers and other school personnel also need to know how to promote learning through a variety of instructional practices, and
(c) Teachers and other school personnel must exhibit certain habits of mind or demonstrate "pedagogical thoughtfulness"
Since the unit's knowledge base provides the justification for the desired unit learning outcomes, it is this knowledge base that also facilitates the relevant generic candidate proficiencies for each outcome. The desired unit outcomes are therefore manifested in the content to be experienced (candidate content proficiencies), the requisite practices and skills for experiencing the content (candidate process skills proficiencies), and the moral sensibilities/dispositions (candidate habits of mind) inherent in the foregoing transaction.
The candidate proficiencies, the knowledge, skills, and dispositions in the institutional standards are thus aligned, at the initial preparation level, with state (FEAP standards - Florida Educator Accomplished Practices), and professional standards (which at the initial level are the INTASC standards - Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium), and at the advanced level, with the National Board standards - The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards).
The unit's evaluation and assessment system thus enables decisions to be made regarding whether the unit is achieving its vision and aim, and, therefore, producing desired results in terms of its learning outcomes, and, candidate proficiencies, that is, its institutional standards.
The needs index for change in the unit is linked to long-term goals and objectives that guide the unit's development and academic pursuits. Goals in this context are mechanisms for planning for change. The unit's short- and long-term goals become the steps through which evidence to demonstrate progress in the unit's aim is manifested through plans, goals, objectives, timelines, and use of results for change and improvement.