We believe education should be learner-centered and that we should educate students to become productive members of a democratic society.We advocate individual growth and personal meaning through problem solving and reflection on personal growth.We view school as a mechanism for change and seek to improve education especially in the areas of diversity and gender equity.We believe that enlightened individuals who focus on the learners' individual growth can affect change in schools and society.
The assumptions which underlie the professional education program are:
- As professionals, educators need an extensive knowledge base from which to make decisions.This knowledge base includes knowledge of self, subject matter, curriculum development and instruction.The content of this knowledge base needs to be integrated throughout the program to include principles of human growth and development applied to learning situations (Darling-Hammond, 2000; Elbaz, 1983; Slavin, 2006; Parkay, 2006).
- Continuous reflection on one's set of beliefs and assumptions about teaching and learning make the process of becoming a teacher a conscious effort at developing a "conscious of craft" (Duck, 2000; Bush, 1987; Leahy & Corcoran, 1996; Corcoran & Leahy, 2003; Johnson & Uline, 2005).
- Students and educators should see themselves as co-learners-learning from each other and their own investigations.Educators should learn and change throughout their professional career, continuously creating and reconstructing their practice as professionals (Barazangi, 2006; Dewey, 1938; Goodlad, 1984; Steffy & Wolfe, 1997).
- Learning is an active, engaging, collaborative process.Learners should be involved in a community whereby they learn to ask questions, share, debate, construct, modify, and develop ideas and ways to solve problems.University/school partnerships are a necessary component for this process (Tichenor & Heins, 2001; Piechura-Couture, K., Tichenor, M., Heins, E., & Haugaard, J., 2001; MacIsaac et al. 2002;Heins & Tichenor, 1999).
- Candidates help create the learning environment, not simply enter it.They produce learning materials, author research reports, develop creative activities or experiences, and collaborate to help others learn (Henson, 2004; Gowin & Novak, 1984; Eisner, 1991; Johnson & Johnson, 1991; Slavin, 2006).
- Educators are decision makers who critically think about the impact of their actions on learning outcomes (; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Duck, 2000; Corcoran & Leahy, 2003; Goodlad, 1983; Slavin, 2006).
- There is an intentional connection between instructional methods and curriculum content (Banks, 2003; Lovell, 2003; Posner, 1989).In other words, there should be an alignment between planning, teaching and assessment.
- Educators need experiences with various methods and curricula that emphasize creativity and diversity in order to enact improvements in their own environments (Banks, 2001; Goodlad,1983 ; Colangelo & Davis, 1991; Gardner, 1983; Eisner, 1991).
- Educators should build a repertoire of instructional strategies that address diverse student needs (Ebeling, 2000; Gardner, 1983; Swisher & Schoorman, 2001; Tomlinson, 2005).
- The professional educator is committed to the students, to the community, and to the profession.They should be an effective communicator to a variety of audiences and use various forms of communication (Phelps, 2006; Johnson & Uline, 2005).
Therefore, our unit affirms the values of learner centered education that provide empowering experiences to enhance individual growth and personal meaning through problem solving and reflection upon learning and personal development.We advocate the school as a vehicle for proactive change so that our graduates, as educational leaders, learn to facilitate K-12 student academic performance in the schools and society.
In responding to this mission and vision, four organizing strands: reflective practitioner, collaborative instructional leader, responder to diversity and facilitative change agent, were established to create a sense of unity across all programs at both the initial and advanced levels. These strands are supported by current and comprehensive knowledge bases in the literature.