Conceptual Framework

The School of Education believes that a fundamental aim in education is to create opportunities for individuals to realize their potential within a democratic community. Therefore, we prepare graduates of our programs to be:

  • reflective practitioners who
  • promote justice,
  • create caring classrooms and school communities and
  • enable all students to be successful learners.

These themes form the conceptual framework for the outcomes of the School of Education programs. They guide every aspect of our role in preparing educators for P-12 settings, as shown in the video below. We incorporate them through curricular planning, instruction, assessment and the evaluation of both candidates and our programs.

As reflective practitioners our candidates learn to appreciate the continuity between theory and practice and to seek an understanding of themselves in relation to others in social and historical contexts. Our candidates develop multiple perspectives on teaching and learning and gain increased awareness of their own learning strengths and weaknesses. The reflective process is promoted through course readings and assignments, case studies, field experiences, self-assessment and student teaching.
To become professionals who promote justice, our candidates learn to work toward equity in our society. As we understand it, justice implies a balance between the rights of individuals and the needs of society, equal protection under the law, fairness in the distribution and use of resources and equal access to opportunities. Through challenging coursework and varied field experiences our candidates are provided with multiple opportunities to recognize and address unjust policies and practices both within and outside of schools.
We believe caring classrooms and school communities are places where students are respected and cared for so that they learn to respect and care for others, discover and develop their abilities, and become engaged and responsible learners. At Pace we draw on our own experience of working in a caring professional community as additional evidence that such settings encourage people to develop high levels of commitment and competency. Through our respectful interactions with candidates and our insistence on similar behavior among candidates, we model caring communities in our classrooms to provide students with a framework for future practice.
Our candidates know that teachers who are successful at enabling all students to learn build upon the knowledge and experience that their students bring to school. Conscious that teachers can affect students’ sense of their potential, candidates plan and implement meaningful and effective teaching and learning activities. Drawing on constructivist theory and a strong base of content area knowledge, they provide scaffolding so that their students can develop habits of inquiry. Candidates use a variety of assessment tools to evaluate students’ needs and progress and to inform instructional decisions. As a result, it is our goal that our candidates’ students become proactive in posing and solving problems, understand the relevance of their studies to their lives, are more motivated learners who feel able to affect positive change in their society.

Selected Outcomes from the SOE Conceptual Framework


   Knowledge Outcomes  Skills Outcomes  Dispositions Outcomes
    Reflective Professionalism
  • understand methods of inquiry that provide them with a variety of self- assessment and problem-solving strategies for reflecting on their practice, their students learning and the interactions between them.
  • are aware of major areas of research on teaching and of resources available for professional learning.
  • understand the legal and ethical responsibilities of their profession.
  • use classroom observation, information about students and research as sources for evaluating the outcomes of teaching and learning.
  • use a variety of methods of inquiry to experiment with, reflect on, problem-solve and improve
  • seek out and use research on teaching, the experiences of colleagues and other resources to improve.
  • believe that problem-solving is a learning activity that leads to the improvement of practice.
  • are committed to the reflection, assessment and learning necessary for problem-solving and the improvement of their practice,
  • are willing to give and receive feedback and assistance.
    Promoting Social Justice
  • have a critical understanding of the social, historical and political contexts in which they teach.
  • understand that students bring knowledge and interests, cultural, and linguistic resources to schools.
  • understand that improvements in equitable educational access, opportunity and achievement have been the result of social movements.
  •  can analyze contemporary educational issues in light of the historical, philosophical, and sociological foundations of education.
  • can gather information about students’ families, cultures, and communities and use this information as a basis for connecting instruction to students’ experiences.
  • can work collaboratively with families, social service organizations, political action groups, and government to improve the social conditions of their students’ lives.
  • are committed to identifying and managing their prejudices.
  • are committed to democratic ideals such as equality under the law, equal educational access and opportunity and maintaining a balance between individual rights and society’s needs.
  • see parents and communities as partners in their students’ education.
    Creating Caring Classrooms and School Communities
  • understand sociological and psychological insights about human motivation and behavior that are useful in organizing and supporting positive environments.
  • understand how social groups function, how individuals function within groups and the conditions that foster productive arid cooperative interaction.
  • have knowledge of effective communication techniques that foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.
  • can develop and maintain classroom routines, expectations, and processes of communication that create communities in which all students feel safe, respected, responsible, and able to learn.
  • can help students develop shared values and expectations that create a classroom climate of openness, mutual respect, support, and inquiry.
  • model respect and appreciation for individual and cultural diversity within the classroom.
  • take primary responsibility for establishing a caring community but believe that students should be "almost equal” partners in the task.
  • are committed to the expression and use of democratic values in the classroom.
  • value the role of students in helping one another to learn and recognize the importance of peer relationships in establishing a caring classroom community.
    Enabling All Students to Learn
  • understand central concepts, methods of inquiry, and structures of the disciplines they teach.
  • have content knowledge in their discipline as outlined by the Specialty Professional Association.
  • understand the cognitive processes associated with various kinds of learning and how to stimulate these processes to enable students to construct knowledge, acquire skills, and develop habits of mind.
  • can use multiple ways of representing and explaining key concepts, viewpoints, and theories and of engaging students in methods of inquiry in the disciplines they teach.
  • can design instruction that utilizes multiple teaching and learning strategies to engage students in learning experiences that develop students’ critical thinking, problem- solving and performance skills.
  • can design teaching and learning activities that are appropriate to students’ stages of development, learning styles, strengths, and disabilities.
  • believe all students can learn and are persistent in developing teaching and learning activities that enable them to do so.
  • believe that students’ developmental processes, learning styles, cultural backgrounds are deserving of respect and can be utilized in teaching and learning strategies.
  • are committed to helping students take responsibility for their own learning.