The Conceptual Framework for Professional Education at Towson University is based upon a foundation of shared beliefs. Reflecting professional, state, and institutional standards, these shared beliefs are performance-based, describing what educators should know and be able to do to improve student learning, and are specifically focused on professional standards for knowledge, skills, and dispositions. The Conceptual Framework is grounded in Towson 2010: Mapping the Future, the Teacher Education Executive Board’s mission and vision statements, and the belief that preparation of educators is a collaborative, P-16 responsibility. Reflecting continuous, systematic assessment and internal and external reform efforts, the Conceptual Framework has been revisited and revised numerous times, from 1990 to the present. This continuous evolution, evidence of growth and vitality, has been inclusive, reflecting input, review, and refinement from internal and external stakeholders.
The seven themes and the supporting standards of the Conceptual Framework are the foundation for the teaching, service, scholarship, policies, assessment, and program development of the Professional Education Unit at Towson University. Drawing upon the unit’s mission statement and model, “inspire, educate, and prepare facilitators of active learning for diverse and inclusive community of learners in environments that are technologically varied,” each initial and advanced level education program operationalizes the mission and vision statements and the themes and standards through a planned sequence of content, professional and pedagogical studies, integrated field experiences, and assessment of student outcomes required of candidates.
Underlying the structure and content of the Conceptual Framework is the belief that teaching, as characterized by Shulman (1987), is a “learned profession” (p. 4). Improving the profession of education is our purpose, and professional education, at both initial and advanced levels, is our fundamental task. As faculty in a professional program, we have the responsibility to provide the best possible preparation and continuous professional development for all educational personnel. Further, we have an obligation to prepare these educators with state-of-the-art knowledge from both research and the “wisdom of practice.” The focus on performance-based standards –targeted at improving student learning-- emphasizes the unit’s role in monitoring candidates’ progress through their programs of study by specifying required outcomes for program completion, assessed through a comprehensive and integrated set of performance measures. Accordingly, the faculty of the Towson University Professional Education Unit model the same knowledge, skill, and dispositions expected of our initial and advanced level candidates.