Overview of the Conceptual Framework

At the heart of the conceptual framework for the professional education unit at California State University, Fresno is its theme, Leadership for Diverse Communities. The unit’s philosophy, purposes, professional commitments, and dispositions are found in the vision, mission, goals, and dispositions articulated below for the Kremen School of Education and Human Development (KSOEHD).

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development is a center for academic excellence and collaboration in the fields of education and counseling. Graduates will become community leaders who advocate for high standards and democratic values with attention to professional ethics and diversity.

The Kremen School of Education and Human Development's mission is the recruitment and development of ethically informed leaders for classroom teaching, education administration, counseling, and higher education. Our mission is realized through a framework of teaching, scholarship, and service that addresses regional, state, national, and international perspectives.

• To be a model for collaboration with higher education and K-12 colleagues.
• To prepare professionals who are committed to leadership and service in diverse community settings.
• To prepare education professionals who have a command of content knowledge and pedagogy and who continuously strive to improve their practice.
• To integrate performance assessment as a key evaluation technique in each of our programs.
• To support the lifelong development of practicing professionals with services and programs including the doctorate.
• To recruit qualified candidates, who are representative of the diversity in our community, into the fields of education and counseling, beginning with students in the public schools.
• To be a national demonstration site for exemplary practices in education and counseling.
• To be at the cutting edge of the application of best practice models and educational technology.
• To sustain a university work environment that is exemplary in its humanity, ethics, effectiveness and intellectual vitality.
• To secure, through advancement efforts, the supplemental funding needed to provide the margin of excellence for programs and special initiatives.
• To be the higher education partner of choice for the public schools and other relevant institutions of the five counties we serve in the Central Valley.

Professional Dispositions:
• Collaboration
• Professional Ethics
• Reflection
• Valuing Diversity
• Critical Thinking
• Lifelong Learning.

The conceptual framework graphic was designed in 2004 to visually represent the essence of the framework. Components collectively support the unit’s desired outcome – the initial and continuing preparation of teachers, administrators, counselors, and other education professionals who are leaders for today’s diverse communities.

Fundamental to each program is a knowledge base which, along with the vision, mission, goals, and dispositions, guides the design of coursework and fieldwork in the professional programs. The unit is committed to providing programs that are based on appropriate standards, that expand the knowledge base of candidates, and that incorporate effective uses of technology.

In order to make informed decisions about candidate competence, program quality, and unit effectiveness, a central component of the conceptual framework is an assessment system which integrates information from a variety of sources. Each unit program uses performance assessments to measure candidate knowledge, skills, and dispositions. Outcomes assessments are strongly supported by the university. In 2000, the Academic Senate approved a Student Outcomes Assessment Program, which has as its guiding purpose, “improved student learning through modified curricula and instruction. In support of this purpose, outcomes assessment of student learning will take place at the department and program level, where data (i.e., quantitative and qualitative observations) and information (i.e., interpretation of the data) can be used most judiciously and effectively to effect change in curricula and instruction.” Each degree program has developed a Student Outcomes Assessment Plan (SOAP) that has been reviewed by peers within the university and educators in the field from outside the university. The SOAP is an important part of the university’s program review process.

Shared Vision:
The conceptual framework has been extensively discussed and reviewed at KSOEHD and unit faculty retreats and at meetings of NCATE program coordinators. Program coordinators, the Director of Field Experiences, and university supervisors share the framework with program candidates and field-based clinical faculty at orientations. Faculty discuss various elements in their courses.

The conceptual framework is consistent with the vision of the university as stated in Vision for the 21st Century: A Plan for Excellence, the strategic plan for 2001-2006. “California State University, Fresno aspires to be the premier regional interactive university in California and one of the best in the nation. Recognized for quality teaching, preparation of a diverse student population - undergraduate and graduate, superior scholarship, and intellectual and cultural leadership in the San Joaquin Valley.”

The university campus is currently engaged in a new round of strategic planning as it prepares for its 100th year of academic service to the San Joaquin Valley and beyond. The following values have been identified as fundamental to the planning process:
• Broad and meaningful participation by all constituencies
• A continuing campus commitment to diversity
• A climate of mutual respect and inclusion of different points of view
• Collaboration and community across divisions in pursuit of strategic directions
• Centrality of learning
• Contributions to and dissemination of knowledge
• Use of assessment as a tool for improvement in all areas.

The key elements of the conceptual framework can be seen across the curriculum, field experiences, and assessments of unit programs. For example, collaboration is modeled by faculty working with site partners and other university faculty in course delivery, planning, and many other collaborative activities. Groupwork activities are used in many courses to promote collaboration among candidates. For example, one of the competencies in the first field experience of the Multiple Subject program is to collaboratively plan and teach a sequence of lessons that use reading strategies to teach social studies content. The Multiple Subject program also makes strong connections between coursework and practice by having specific course-related assignments completed in the field. The Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership is at the forefront of preparing candidates to be leaders of diverse communities. The Central Valley Educational Leadership Institute also promotes leadership among administrators. Command of content knowledge is supported by the California Subject Matter Projects housed at the university and which support increased subject matter expertise among candidates and other educators. Unit faculty are also committed to modeling and promoting lifelong learning. They encourage candidates to engage in ongoing professional development and maintain a love of learning throughout their career.

Professional Commitments and Dispositions:
Both initial and advanced programs are committed to providing leaders who have a command of the content in their field, who will be reflective, collaborative leaders for our schools, and who are prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of working with diverse communities. The professional education unit fosters the development of the following professional dispositions among candidates. Candidates increasingly reflect these dispositions in their work with students, families, and communities. 

Reflection: Candidates develop the dispositional tendency to reflect on their professional practice. Unit programs support the development of this disposition by having candidates regularly reflect on their learning and on their practice.

Critical thinking: Candidates analyze situational contexts, resulting in more informed decision-making. Unit programs provide candidates practice analyzing the implications of intrapersonal, interpersonal and contextual issues in educational settings.

Professional ethics: Candidates learn to make well-reasoned ethical judgments. Unit programs foster this disposition by teaching ethical decision-making that relies on reflection and results in professional action.

Valuing diversity: Candidates are able to work effectively with diverse populations and recognize the importance of valuing of cultural, linguistic, cognitive, and physiological diversity. Unit programs promote this disposition through experiences in educational settings with diverse populations and opportunities to discuss, observe, and reflect on the benefits of valuing diversity.

Collaboration: Candidates learn and practice the skills of collaboration in their classes and in their fieldwork. Furthermore, program faculty model collaboration in their work with one another and with the larger educational community.

Life-long learning: Candidates demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning about their profession and beyond. Unit programs foster this disposition through pre-professional experiences that bring the candidate into the profession in meaningful ways and by acquainting them with opportunities for continuing professional growth.

Commitment to diversity:
The rich diversity of the university’s service area makes commitment to diversity a natural and critical component of the conceptual framework. This commitment is woven through all unit programs. Course outcomes related to preparing students to work with diverse populations are common. Foundations courses provide understanding of and appreciation for differences. All candidates have field experiences in settings with students from diverse backgrounds.

Commitment to technology:
The conceptual framework includes a commitment to the appropriate use of technology in ways that enhance the learning environment for students. The unit has been involved in many initiatives to manifest this commitment. For example, the KSOEHD was the lead institution in a Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) grant from the U.S. Department of Education and was involved in two other such grants. Programs have infused technology in coursework and many are enhanced by the use of Blackboard. Multiple and Single Subject candidates are now submitting key performance assessments through TaskStream, an online portfolio system. The Instructional Technology Resources Center (INTERESC) in the KSOEHD supports faculty professional development in technology and a KSOEHD staff member has been dedicated to provide Just in Time support in technology skills for students, faculty, and staff.

Alignment of Proficiencies with Professional and State Standards:
Coursework and fieldwork syllabi are aligned with standards such as the California Standards for Program Quality and Effectiveness, California Teaching Performance Expectations, national standards for professional organizations where applicable, and, in the case of teacher preparation programs, with state content standards. Evidence of the conceptual framework is also evident in the commitment of program faculty to providing instruction that expands candidates’ pedagogical and content knowledge base and that incorporate technology to enhance learning. Each unit program has a knowledge base, consistent with the unit’s conceptual framework while unique to the research, standards, theories, and wisdom of practice particularly appropriate to the program.