Theme 1: Ensuring the mastery of appropriate content in general studies in the liberal arts and sciences, as well as in specific academic disciplines and advanced fields of study
Ongoing demands to restructure P-16 education in America for the requirements of a knowledge-based, global economy continue to redefine the mission of schooling and professional education, requiring substantially more knowledge and skill of educators. Schools and professional educators are held increasingly accountable for ensuring higher degrees of success and performance for all learners.
A series of highly visible educational reform proposals that began in the 1980’s (e.g., National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk, 1983; Holmes Group, 1986; Redesign of Teacher Education, 1995; NCLB, 2002) have asserted that educational change and improved student learning rest in large part on improving the academic quality and capacity of the teaching force. While repeatedly reaffirmed (Cochran-Smith & Fries, 2005; NCTAF, 2003; Rice, 2003; Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006), it was the single statement from the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future (1996) - “what teachers know and can do makes the crucial difference in what children learn” (p. 5) - that encapsulated and all of the historical and contemporary demands that teachers and other school personnel must possess high levels of theoretical and practical knowledge in the liberal arts and sciences as well as in their specific academic disciplines and advanced fields of study to meet professional, state, and institutional standards.
Strong academic preparation, the cornerstone of the unit’s content and performance-based standards and a key disposition, is an all-campus responsibility and is designed to ensure that our candidates are knowledgeable professionals who possess both a theoretical and practical knowledge base. To be knowledgeable means to have a thorough grounding in the liberal arts and sciences content expected of an educated person for the 21st century. All candidates acquire a broad undergraduate background of essential intellectual skills through the liberal arts and sciences based on the University’s General Education requirements, upon which they then build concentrated study in their major fields of study. Advanced programs for the continuing preparation of teachers and other school personnel have the prerequisite demand that all candidates present evidence of a strong undergraduate academic foundation upon which their specialized program knowledge is constructed.
For all candidates, in both initial and advanced programs, to be knowledgeable means developing and demonstrating a rich understanding of their major field of study . As a result, professional education is the responsibility, and reflects the expertise, of the entire university.