Our Conceptual Framework

“Constructing knowledge” refers to the process by which individuals make meaning of professional information and develop personal theories about teaching, learning and human development. Individuals construct knowledge through structured educational activities and life experiences.

“Developing practice” refers to both the process by which education professionals improve how they do their job as well as to the process of developing and growing as reflective professional practitioners.

“Fostering relationships” refers to the development of those dispositions necessary to create mutually beneficial connections among people and educational institutions and organizations.


Through a continuing process of development, the faculty members of Purdue University Calumet’s School of Education have integrated information about instructional principles and about the specific needs of the School’s clientele with its Mission Statement in order to derive the Standards that describe the characteristics we hope to help our candidates achieve. This Framework rationale describes how current research and insights about education have been integrated with our Mission Statement to arrive at these Standards.

Throughout the professional education program, candidates are expected to meet the standards at increasingly complex levels. Candidates are assessed at each level to demonstrate performance.

The themes of constructing knowledge, developing practice, and fostering relationships provide the foundation for each of the Standards. These Standards, which can be grouped into three general categories, form the backbone of our Teacher Education Program.

  1. The main purpose of education is to help learners achieve significant educational outcomes. Teachers facilitate this process by applying the appropriate knowledge, dispositions, and performances in developing diverse approaches to educational strategies that are constructive, consistent and reflective of sound practice. Therefore, a major goal of our Teacher Education Program is to help our graduates develop knowledge, dispositions, and performances to help students learn. This major goal of developing effective instructional strategies embraces Standards 1 through 3 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Instruction works best when it is based on sensible, validated models and theories (e.g., Joyce & Weil, 1996; Gagne & Driscoll, 1988). Therefore, our graduates must prepare and effectively implement instruction that reflects a variety of strategies and motivates learners to actively engage in learning. This concept of instructional planning, preparation, and implementation underlies Standard 1 of our Teacher Education Program.

    A sound grasp of content knowledge is necessary for teaching any subject. Therefore, our graduates must understand and apply the central themes, concepts, and skills associated with their teaching major to their practice (Cruickshank, 1990; Grossman, Wilson, & Shulman, 1989). They must also understand the relationship between their teaching major and other subject area disciplines. This concept of understanding content knowledge underlies Standard 2 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Teachers must often respond to unusual situations &endash; they must “think on their feet” and solve problems as they arise. Therefore, our graduates must reflect on their practice, understand and use a variety of problem-solving heuristics and foster learners’ critical thinking abilities (Cruickshank, 1996; Freire & Macedo, 1987; Gore, 2001). This concept of creative problem solving underlies Standard 3 of our Teacher Education Program.

  2. Studies have shown that effective educational strategies need to take into consideration modern research and technology. Therefore, a second major goal of our Teacher Education Program is to enable our graduates to use current research, knowledge, and technology to empower the people they serve. This major goal of using current research and technology embraces Standards 4 and 5 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Professional journals, textbooks, and other sources contain an abundance of information on how to teach (e.g., Alkin, 1992; Wittrock, 1986.). In addition, teachers attend conferences and workshops at which people present to them information on innovative and effective strategies. To make use of this information, our graduates must understand current trends in educational research and critically examine this research in relationship to classroom applications. (Krathwohl, 1997; Vockell & Asher, 1995.) This concept of critically evaluating educational research underlies Standard 4 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Modern technology offers a wide variety of new hardware and software &endash; ranging from textbooks to multimedia computer presentations &endash; available for delivering instruction. Our graduates must understand the central concepts related to educational technology and appropriately implement this technology into classroom preparation and instruction. (Anandamm, 1998; Vockell & Schwartz, 1992.) This concept of understanding and using technology underlies Standard 5 of our Teacher Education Program.

  3. Quality teaching occurs when teachers are aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and are aware of the characteristics and needs of the learners with whom they will work. Therefore, a third major goal of our Teacher Education Program is to enable our graduates to be sensitive and responsive to the unique needs of themselves, of others, and of the diverse society in which they practice. This major goal embraces Standards 6 through 9 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Students with special needs often receive the best possible education when they are integrated into regular classrooms (NEA, 1992). Therefore, our graduates must understand various special needs and exceptionalities of learners, must understand how these may be manifested in learning situations and must adapt instruction to ensure success for all learners. This concept of working with students who have special needs underlies Standard 6 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Current scholarship supplies abundant information regarding how student diversity in culture, ethnicity, race, language, special needs, sexual orientation, gender, religion, socioeconomic status, and geography affects learning. This scholarship also provides suggestions for the use of information about diversity to focus effectively on individual needs (Bennett, 1995). Therefore, our graduates must understand the nature of diversity in the human community, must understand how diversity can affect learning, and must create an environment that protects the individuality and dignity of all learners. This concept of understanding and respecting diversity underlies Standard 7 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Communication with learners, parents, colleagues, and others is an essential part of teaching (Darling-Hammond, 1991; McLaughlin & Pfeifer 1988; Raths, 1971). Therefore, our graduates must use knowledge of appropriate verbal, nonverbal, and written communication in preparing instructional materials and must effectively communicate with stakeholders within the educational community. This concept of effective communication underlies Standard 8 of our Teacher Education Program.

    Teachers often work in settings that differ radically from the communities in which they themselves have lived and in which students often differ substantially from one another. Our graduates must understand the dynamics of educational, geographic, and school communities, must effectively participate within these communities, and must foster an environment that respects all learners (Cruickshank, 1996). This concept of understanding communities underlies Standard 9 of our Teacher Education Program.

By working toward meeting these Standards, the faculty, staff, and candidates in the Purdue University Calumet School of Education are advocates for and models of quality education and lifelong learning.


Alkin, M.C. (Ed.) (1992). Encyclopedia of Educational Research (6th ed.). New York: Macmillan.

Anandam, K.(Ed.) (1998). Integrating technology on campus: Human sensibilities and technical possibilities. New Direction for Community Colleges. 101.

Bennett, C. (1995). Research on racial issues in American higher education. In Banks, J. & Banks, C. (Ed.) Handbook of research on multicultural education. New York: Macmillian Publishing.

Cruickshank, D.R. (1990). Research that informs teachers and teacher educators. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

Cruickshank, D.R. (1996). Preparing America’s teachers. Bloomington, IN:

Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation.

Darling-Hammond, L. (1991). Are our teachers ready to teach? Teacher education results in better student learning. Quality Teaching, 1, 6-7, 10.

Freire, P. & Macedo, D. (1987). Literacy: Reading the word and the world. South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.

Gagne, R.M. & Driscoll, M.P. (1988). Essentials of Learning for Instruction. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Gore, J. (2001). Beyond our differences: A reassembling of what matters in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 52(2).

Grossman, P.A., Wilson, S., & Shulman, L.S. (1989). Teachers of substance: Subject matter knowledge for teaching. In M.C. Reynold, Knowledge base for beginning teachers. New York: Pergamon.

Joyce, B. & Weil, M. (1996). Models of Teaching (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Krathwohl, D.R. (1997). Methods of Educational & Social Science Research : An Integrated Approach (2nd ed.). Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

McLaughlin, M. & Pfeifer, R. (1988). Teacher education: Improvement, acountability, and effective learning. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

NEA. (1992). Integrating students with special needs: Policies and practices that work. A report from professional standards and practice. Washington, DC: National Education Association.

Raths, L. (1971). What is a good teacher? In J. Raths, J. Pancella, Van Ness (Eds.), Studying teaching (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Vockell, E.L. & Asher, J.W. (1995) Educational Research (2nd ed.). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Vockell, E. L., and Schwartz, E. (1992). The Computer in the Classroom (2nd Ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Wittrock, M.C. (Ed) (1986). Handbook of Research on Teaching. (3rd Ed.) New York: Macmillan.

{Note: The sources comprising the actual knowledge base underlying our teacher education are much greater than the references cited here. This list includes only those sources cited in this statement of our Conceptual Framework.}