What is the PDS Conceptual Framework?

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How does the Penn State Conceptual Framework help organize the internship experience?
The Penn State Elementary and Kindergarten Education Conceptual Framework undergirds all of the work required and completed by undergraduate elementary education majors at Penn State. By the end of the internship, the intern must be able to demonstrate competency in each area of the outcomes framework.

What is the PSU Elementary and Kindergarten Teacher Education Conceptual Framework?
The diagram below is the Penn State model for the understandings, skills and dispositions new teachers are expected to develop as a result of their teacher preparation at University Park. It has been recognized by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future that what teachers know and do is the most important influence on what children learn. The conceptual framework for new teachers presented here, approved by accrediting agencies such as the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) and the National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), reflects contemporary thinking about teaching and learning as advocated by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), and the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE). This framework offers a context for describing and discussing educational excellence for teacher education students as well as university and school-based faculty.

A circle representing the College of Education's conceptual framework

The model is organized in series of nodes that builds on the central node of Educators are Life-Long Learners.

  • Education is a complex problem solving process
  • Educators Understand and Use Disciplinary Knowledge and Pedagogical Knowledge
  • Educators Contribute to the Development and evaluation of Theories of Learning and Development
  • Educators Teach and Assess Learning and Development and Accept Their Shared Responsibility for Student Learning.

Education is a complex problem solving process is the central theme in all of Penn State's teacher education programs. It implies that the formal knowledge and skills learned as a part of University and field-based courses are necessary, but insufficient, to deal with the complexities and fast-paced changes found in diverse education settings. The EECE program emphasizes the development of knowledge, skills, and dispositions by beginning teachers that allows them to be critically reflective about their work as well as the multidimensional contexts in which their work takes place. From this vantage point, teacher education is an attempt to prepare professionals who continually: a) analyze, discuss, evaluate and change their own practices, adopting an analytic approach towards teaching; b) take greater responsibility for their own professional growth and acquire a degree of professional autonomy; c) appraise the moral and ethical issues implicit in classroom practices including critical examination of their own beliefs about teaching; and d) examine and redevelop their own theories of educational understanding and practice, offering a principled basis for their own work and decisions. By embracing the notion of teaching as a complex problem solving process, it is expected that elementary school teachers will continually make collective and individual decisions about their work in order to help learners develop as active, knowledgeable citizens of a multicultural world.

Educators Teach and Assess Learning and Development and Accept Their Shared Responsibility for Student Learning. is a key supporting node in the Penn State EECE model in that successful educators base their teaching on a thorough understanding of physical, social, emotional, cognitive, and linguistic developmental characteristics of early and middle childhood as well as early adolescence. Elementary teachers draw upon an in-depth knowledge of child and adolescent development to understand students' thinking, abilities and interests, adapting curriculum and pedagogy to support student learning and development. Elementary teachers understand that cultures and social groups differ in ways that are critical and affect learning. They know and demonstrate that all children learn when developmental factors are recognized, respected, and accommodated.

At the heart of the node, Educators Possess Discipline Knowledge and Pedagogical Understanding, is the need for a rich understanding of the subject(s) taught, as well as of specialized knowledge about how to promote student understanding. Understanding of the central concepts to be learned by students is a prerequisite to effective professional practice, as is an adequate understanding of how knowledge in the discipline is created and organized. Equally important is the notion that specialized knowledge requires specialized teaching strategies. Awareness of the conceptions that learners bring to the education setting help educators select proper instructional strategies and materials to best facilitate student learning.

The node Educators Manage and Monitor Learning Environments ensures that Penn State educators create, enrich, maintain, and alter education settings in order to best provide learning opportunities for all children. In addition to developing a repertoire of techniques to manage education settings, Penn State educators become proficient at a range of instructional strategies and know when to use each to support critical thinking, problem solving, active engagement, self-motivation and collaboration. In addition, learner assessment is a major component of this node of the professional knowledge base. Graduates from Penn State's education programs can be expected to choose and utilize multiple assessment approaches -- from standardized assessments to alternative assessments -- to monitor and promote intellectual, social and physical development.

Since Educators are Members of Multiple Learning Communities, Penn State teachers do not view themselves as isolated figures in the education community. Our educators rapidly learn that they are members of multiple communities -- from the highly specialized, content-specific professional societies to the community that brings together parents and policymakers -- in order to work collaboratively to evaluate and improve education settings for all learners. Penn State educators are aware of local, state, and national curriculum and policy issues that impact their work with learners. Further, they understand their role in society and are disposed to attend to their work to educate all in a professional, responsible, and ethical manner.

What is a Professional Development School? What are the goals of our Professional Development Schools? Introduction to the Penn State Elementary Education PDS What is the intern's field experience like? How are the interns selected? What does the work of a mentor and intern look like in our Professional Development School? What are some of the unique experiences an intern has in a Professional Development School? What is the PDS Conceptual Framework? Why should you consider hiring an intern from the Professional Development Schools?