The Isabelle Farrington College of Education at Sacred Heart University actively uses its conceptual framework to develop, implement, monitor, and assess its programs and to articulate and evaluate candidates’ competencies in content mastery, skill development, the integration of technology and appreciation of diversity; and the development of dispositions in which the intellect and heart are focused on a greater good in teaching, leadership, and serving others.
Our Conceptual Framework theme, “Promoting a Culture of Excellence in a Changing World”, enunciates two key concepts: "Culture of Excellence" and "a Changing World." We understand “Culture of Excellence” to be the universe of knowledge, skills and dispositions that contribute to the development of personhood and professionalism in self and others. Our commitment to professional excellence is consistent with the University’s mission to combine “education for life with preparation for professional excellence.” We strive to develop our Candidates to strive for excellence in all aspects of their performance, and who promote excellence in those with whom they professionally interact.
Our programs are dedicated to fostering personal and professional dispositions and behaviors that prepare the Candidate to participate in and contribute to ongoing excellence in the educational enterprise. An educator’s commitment to professional excellence is manifested in multiple forms: (1) a commitment to achieve personal excellence in self and others, (2) a commitment to develop academic competence in students and peers and (3) a commitment to excel professionally. Our programs are designed to produce Candidates who are reflective, flexible, creative and critical practitioners, who can identify the needs of students, generate multiple solutions and choose the appropriate action that best fits the specific situation.
The second key concept of the theme is the recognition that the actions of the educator take place in the context of “a Changing World.” A fundamental premise of our professional programs is that a culture of excellence must be promoted within educational settings that are subject to social, cultural and technological changes. The University’s mission statement affirms that the institution “aims to assist in the development of people knowledgeable of self, rooted in faith, educated in mind, compassionate in heart, responsive to social and civic obligations, and able to respond to an ever-changing world” [Italics added].
In accordance with our Conceptual Framework’s unifying theme, we are committed to developing educational practitioners who (1) demonstrate excellence and promote excellence in others when engaging in the primary educational activities of learning, teaching, and leadership, and (2) promote excellence in educational settings that are subject to demographic and organizational change.
The philosophy of the Isabelle Farrington College of Education stems from the fundamental belief that the aim of the educational endeavor lies in achieving learning advantages and success for all students, and that this goal should inform and connect the work of both teacher educators and school practitioners. We seek to develop educational practitioners committed to extending their knowledge, skills, dispositions and shared standards of performance to enable all students to reach challenging learning goals and to actualize their individual potential. Our work is based on the presumption that such knowledge, skills and dispositions develop and are enhanced through studying, practicing, and reflecting in professional communities of educators. We are committed to believe that educators should foster and sustain a democratic and just society in the construction, transmission and use of knowledge.
Within our Conceptual Framework there are five Domains that encompass knowledge, skills and dispositions related to excellence in educational practitioner performance. These Domains provide the framework on which the theme “Promoting a Culture of Excellence in a Changing World” is grounded. The five Domains related to Professional Excellence are: Context, Content, Learner, Pedagogy, and Educator. As presented below, each Domain is supported by a knowledge base. Flowing from that knowledge base we define specific measurable Proficiency for each Domain. The Proficiencies provide the common basis on which Candidates in all of our programs are assessed. Our Domains and Proficiencies are aligned with the competencies identified with Connecticut State Department of Education, Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and specialized areas. Thus, by demonstrating the Proficiencies called for in the five Domains, our Candidates meet the standards established by these accreditors.
Domains of Excellence
Based on the Principles articulated above, and in keeping with the theme "Promoting a Culture of Excellence in a Changing World," a set of outcomes were derived that provide direction in determining the proficiencies and competencies that Candidates in all areas to achieve professional excellence. We concur with Linda Darling-Hammond’s contention that “one of the most damaging myths prevailing in American education is the notion that good teachers are born and not made” (2006). Our knowledge bases and preparation methods lead to the development of teachers and educational leaders who are prepared to achieve educational excellence in their chosen field.
Summary of Domains and Proficiencies
Domain I: Context
The educational practitioner is an active participant in a structured and changing educational environment. The Proficiency that derives from the Context Domain and applies to all three of our programs is: The Candidate understands the context of the profession, both current and past, static and changing.
Domain II: Content
The educational practitioner is a master of current and evolving forms of professional knowledge. The Proficiency that derives from the Content Domain and applies to all three of our programs is: The Candidate demonstrates knowledge of facts, concepts, principles and methods of inquiry of the general and specialized content required for successful practice of the profession.
Domain III: Learner
The educational practitioner is a facilitator of multiple forms of learning. The Proficiency that derives from the Learner Domain and applies to all three of our programs is: The Candidate incorporates an understanding of cognitive and affective processes in designing and implementing learning experiences.
Domain IV: Pedagogy
The educational practitioner is a responsive and systematic manager of the instructional environment. The Proficiency that derives from the Pedagogy Domain and applies to all three of our programs is: The Candidate demonstrates professional/ technical skills that are associated with successful educational practice.
Domain V: Educator
The educational practitioner is a model of personal qualities, characteristics and skills that promote professional excellence. The Proficiency that derives from the Educator Domain and applies to all three of our programs is: The Candidate possesses the personal skills and dispositions, and professional commitments that promote excellence in self and others.