School of Education
Master of Arts: Curriculum and Instruction
The act of teaching and learning involves a framework of research, reflection, and response. These elements entail an evolving cyclical process, a pathway that learners and leaders of learning use to create powerful knowledge bases, to develop as active members of a democratic society, and to establish and maintain environments conducive to learning. This process of research, reflection, and response is focused upon four areas that are essential elements of effective teaching. These areas include: content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, professional dispositions, and learning communities. At the center of this process of acquiring and applying the skills and knowledge of professional practice is the learner. The concept of learner in this case describes all stakeholders in schooling and education.
What is . . .
Research: Effective teachers understand the need to maintain a current perspective on the numerous facets of educational practice. A professional educator strives to engage in the study of pedagogy, to examine the current literature related to teaching and learning, and to pursue the sometimes daunting task of applying this theory to practice.
Reflection: John Dewey stated that the “active, persistent, careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it is reflective thought” (1933, p. 9). Effective teachers are continuously reflecting upon their practice by engaging in learning contexts and pedagogical demands. The act of reflection requires effective teachers to question their behavior, their beliefs as determinants of practice, and to consider carefully the responsibility of being leaders of learning.
Response: Effective pedagogy requires continuous response. To implement change in one’s practice for the purpose of facilitating learning is a critical element in the repertoire of an effective teacher. Response in this sense does not mean change for the sake of change. Response is that act of planned change after careful research and reflection. Given a perceived need for change in the classroom, the professional teacher reviews the current research, carefully reflects, and then implements the change. After monitoring the response to the change, the teacher continues to actively engage in continued research and reflection to improve pedagogical practice.
Content knowledge: Effective teachers are educated in the liberal arts and sciences, and are knowledgeable about the interdependence of the disciplines. They analyze and synthesize ideas, information, and data to make applications of this knowledge in inquiry, problem solving, and critical thinking. The professional educator is an effective communicator, possessing the skills and abilities of listening, speaking, writing, and reading.
Pedagogical knowledge: Professional educators have the knowledge to engage individuals in the learning process. Teaching excellence requires an in-depth understanding of cognition, of the multidimensional qualities of learners and learning, of the skills of research, and of reflective and responsive pedagogy. Through an understanding of human growth and development, of a variety of instructional techniques, assessments, materials, and technologies, coupled with an abundance of practical experience in classrooms, pre-service teachers will mature as effective novice teachers.
Professional dispositions: As models and guides of future generations, professional educators are influential in classrooms, schools, and communities. All teachers and teacher candidates need to exemplify the ethics, values, and professional dispositions of professional
educators. Pre-service teachers engage in active reflection, self-critique. As developing novice teachers, they welcome constructive criticism and incorporate reasonable suggestions into their teaching practice. They are committed to lifelong learning and to the belief that all students can learn.
Learning communities: Schools and classrooms are microcosms of society. They are the venues for students to learn and grow as participants in the community. The themes of caring, responsibility, democracy, and stewardship are woven into the fabric of curriculum as teachers and teacher candidates assume the role of facilitators of environments conducive to learning. In this role, teachers and teacher candidates model tolerance, dignity, participation, and shared decision making with other stakeholders of the learning communities.