Conceptual Framework


Overview of the Conceptual Framework of the School of Education

William Carey University (WCU) is a private, nonprofit institution of higher learning dedicated to providing high quality education in a Christian environment. It is centrally located in the southern region of Mississippi. The main campus is in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a branch campus is in Harrison County, Mississippi, and the school of nursing has a campus in New Orleans, Louisiana. The institution was founded in 1906 as South Mississippi College. In 1911, it became affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention under the name Mississippi Woman’s College. In 1953 it returned to co-educational status under the name William Carey College reflecting the institution’s strong commitment to missions. In 2006 it achieved university status and adopted its current name.

WCU is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor, master, and specialist degrees and the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree. The university is organized into eight academic units: the Ralph and Naomi Noonkester School of Arts and Letters, the School of Natural and Behavioral Sciences; the School of Business; the School of Education; the Owen and Elizabeth Cooper School of Missions and Biblical Studies, the Donald and Frances Winters School of Music, the Joseph and Nancy Fail School of Nursing, and the College of Osteopathic Medicine.

The School of Education (SOE) is the largest of the eight academic units in the university, enrolling approximately one-third of the students in the entire university. Its programs are designed to prepare candidates to meet Mississippi state licensure requirements and train educators to work in K-12 schools in South Mississippi. The SOE provides training for professional educators through eight undergraduate programs leading to B.S., B.F.A, and B.M.E and twelve graduate programs leading to M.Ed., M.Ed. Alternate Route, and Ed.S. degrees. Undergraduate programs are offered in elementary education, secondary education (art, biology, English, mathematics, music, and social studies), special education (Endorsement Only), reading education (Endorsement Only), and physical education. Graduate programs are offered in educational leadership, elementary education, reading, special education, secondary education (music, biology, mathematics, social studies, and English), gifted education, and alternate route. The educational specialist program offers specialized concentrations in elementary education and in higher education administration. Since the SOE has a prominent presence within the university, other WCU academic units (excepting only the school of nursing and the college of medicine) cooperate closely with the SOE to provide support for the SOE programs through development and delivery of coursework for the liberal arts core curriculum and secondary education concentrations and through advisement of students, all in accordance with the mission, vision, philosophy, and goals of the SOE.

With the support of other WCU academic units, the SOE collaboratively developed a conceptual framework organized around a central theme of the caring teacher as a reflective decision maker (represented visually in Figure 1). The SOE desires to produce teachers who are caring, reflective, decision makers having knowledge gained through a strong liberal arts curriculum, content instruction in specialty areas, pedagogical studies in professional education, and significant pre-service experiences, all provided within the Christian environment of the university. The central theme serves as the foundation for the education program in course structure, teaching, evaluation of candidate performance, and assessment of the SOE programs with the goal of preparing desirable, credentialed, and effective teachers entering the professional community in an increasingly diverse and technological world.

Unit Characteristics

There are four departments:

Department of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Coaching; 

Department of Curriculum and Instruction;

Department of Educational Leadership.

The purpose of these departments is to provide professional training and study that will prepare the teacher candidate to pursue a career in the field of education. This training is characterized by course content, field assignments, practica, and clinical experiences. The departments are responsible for the development of undergraduate and graduate curricula in:

(1) elementary education, (B.S., M.Ed., Ed.S.)

(2) secondary education, (B.S., M.Ed., Ed.S.) - English, Social Studies, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Music, Art

(3) physical education,  (B.S., M.Ed.)

(4) educational leadership, (M.Ed.)

(5) higher education administration, (Ed.S, Ed.D., Ph.D.)

(6) gifted education, (M.Ed.)

(7) mild and moderate disabilities K-12; (B.S. endorsement, M.Ed.)

(8) reading K-12, (B.S. endorsement)

(10) alternate route to elementary and secondary education (M.Ed.).

The School of Education provides support to other schools offering teacher preparation majors:

1. Art Education K-12,

2. Biology Education 7-12,

3. Mathematics Education 7-12,

4. Music Education K-12, and

5. Social Studies Education 7-12.

Design for Professional Education

A conceptual framework establishes the shared vision for a unit's efforts in preparing educators to work in P-12 schools. It provides direction for programs, courses, teaching, candidate performance, scholarship, service, and Unit accountability. The conceptual framework is knowledge-based, articulated, shared, coherent, consistent with the unit and/or institutional mission, and continuously evaluated.

Indicator 1: Shared Vision

The Unit’s conceptual framework describes the vision and purpose in preparing educators to work in P-12 schools. It is well-articulated, knowledge-based, and consistent with the institution’s mission.

Indicator 2: Coherence

The Unit’s conceptual framework provides a system for ensuring coherence among curriculum instruction, field experiences, clinical practice, and assessment across a candidate’s program.

Indicator 3: Professional Commitments and Dispositions

The Unit’s conceptual framework clearly articulates its professional commitments to knowledge, teaching competence, and student learning. It has outlined the dispositions that the faculty value in teachers and other professional school personnel.

Indicator 4: Commitment to Diversity

The Unit’s conceptual framework reflects its commitment preparing candidates to support learning for all students and provides a conceptual understanding of how knowledge, dispositions and skills related to diversity are integrated across the curriculum, instruction, field experiences, clinical practice, assessments, and evaluations.

Indicator 5: Commitment to Technology

The Unit’s conceptual framework reflects its commitment to preparing candidates who are able to use educational technology to help all students learn.

Indicator 6: Candidate Proficiencies Aligned With Professional and State Standards

The Unit’s conceptual framework provides the context for developing and assessing candidate proficiencies based on professional, state, and institutional standards.

The Teacher as a Caring, Reflective Decision-Maker

The framework was developed through the collaborative efforts of the School of Education. It reflects a knowledge base that is derived from research, current practice and beliefs and values of the members of the Unit. Through sustained reflective assessment of the university mission and the teacher education program, the Unit agreed that its organizing theme would be the caring teacher as a reflective decision-maker. The conceptual framework is transmitted through a graphic representation which depicts the teacher as the center of interlocking circles which represent caring, reflection, and decision making. Concentric circles surround the teacher depicting a background of liberal arts, specialty areas, professional education, and preservice experiences which are provided in a Christian environment. The Unit adopted the framework that is conveyed to all students through advisement and publications (Figure I). It is shared among faculty and staff members and with members of the supportive professional community. Additionally, the framework serves as the foundation of the education program, the course structure, and the evaluation of the program. Conceptual Framework 4

Professional Dispositions

Dispositions are the values, commitments, and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development as well as the educator’s professional growth. The Dispositions for Teaching Excellence is the School of Education’s structure within which teacher candidates can develop their professional skills.


Dispositions for Teaching Excellence

1. Dependability and Reliability – shows responsible attendance, arrives punctually for class and field experiences in schools, completes assignments on time, and is organized and prepared.

2. Respect – shows respect toward others (peers and instructors), deals with frustrations, problems, and differences in opinion that are inherent in any learning environment in mature ways.

3. Commitment and Initiative – takes assignments seriously, demonstrates commitment to learning and students rather than just completing assignments for a grade, and explores professional sources for new ideas.

4. Responsiveness – seeks and values constructive feedback from others (peers, instructors), and relates well with others.

5. Collaboration – helps create positive relationships in the university classroom and field experiences in schools, participates in the learning process by sharing diverse experiences and perspectives, participates productively in group activities, and establishes productive and professional relationships with professors and colleagues.

6. Open-Mindedness – demonstrates a willingness to question both traditional and innovative practices in the quest for doing what is best for children and shows a willingness to be flexible when dealing with the uncertainty and complexity of educational issues.

7. Knowledgeable – is aware of current educational issues, demonstrates an ability to illustrate and apply subject matter concepts.

8. Communication – demonstrates effective communication, models standard English in writing and speaking, and expresses thoughts clearly and succinctly.

9. Academic Honesty – takes responsibility for producing independent, original work.

10.  Appearance – dresses for all teaching experiences by following the dress code established by the school site.

11.  Teaching Effectiveness – relates to and teaches students in ways that are developmentally appropriate, develops the ability to plan and to engage students in productive learning events that feature critical, insightful thinking, and demonstrates effective management skills.