Educator Preparation Program

EPP Conceptual Framework

EPP Framework

Conceptual Framework Education Preparation Program

Philosophy, Purpose, and Goals

The Educator Preparation Program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls takes a balanced approach to teaching and preparation of education professionals. Our programs rest on a foundation of Inclusivity, Constructivism, Creativity, and Collaboration.

Inclusivity, means providing equitable educational opportunities for all students. It is reflected in our working partnerships with urban, rural, and suburban schools; in the high quality practica that result from these partnerships, and in our goal of producing educators
 and other educational professionals who embrace human diversity and who are engaged citizens of the state, the nation, and the world. It is summed up in the disposition to believe that all children (people) can learn.

Constructivism, or the creation or construction of knowledge built on what is already known, is found in the pedagogy in which the faculty engages and in which we expect teacher education candidates to engage, and in our efforts to develop constructivist education professionals
 at advanced levels.

Creativity, which encourages individual expression and risk taking and builds on personal strengths, is seen in our own and in our candidates’ professional practice, design of curriculum, instruction, assessment, classroom management, and use of technology; and in the research and scholarly activity in which we engage.

Collaboration, involves working together in collegial relationships that support the teaching and learning of all involved. It is the basis of our work across colleges as an Educator Preparation Program; our strong and long-lasting partnerships with schools serving children 0-21 years of age and with communities; our collaboration in teaching and scholarly activity; and our candidates’ engagement in collaborative forms of learning.

Specific and based on research of best practices in education.

Each of these foundations is elaborated upon and supported below.

[Educators]must create a … culture where all students, regardless of their cultural and linguistic backgrounds, are welcomed and supported, and are provided with the best opportunity to learn.
(Richards, Brown, & Forde, 2006, p. 4)

The UWRF Educator Preparation Program values all forms of diversity as one of the foundations for its work. This value coincides with position and conduct statements outlined by the various disciplines housed within the college.

Teacher Education:  “AACTE is involved in a number of projects and activities that have a multicultural component/orientation. The Association emphasizes a commitment to cultural pluralism (No One Model American, 1972), and provides a national forum for educator development in the areas of human rights, social justice, educational quality, and Multicultural and Global education.” (AACTE, 2008)

School Psychology “A commitment to understanding and responding to human diversity is articulated in the program’s philosophy/mission, goals, and objectives and practiced throughout all aspects of the program, including admissions, faculty, coursework, practica, and internship experiences. Human diversity is recognized as a strength that is valued and respected.” (NASP, 2008)

School Counseling: “The mission of the American Counseling Association is to enhance the quality of life in society by …using the profession and practice of counseling to promote respect for human dignity and diversity. (ACA, 2008)

Communicative Disorders: “ASHA recognizes the value of supporting the infusion of multiculturalism into our clinical, education and professional programs; and the activities of allied/related associations and organizations” (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association 2008).

Administration: Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (ISLLC; 2007) calls for administrators who “transcend race, gender, creed, nationality…or diversity” and for providing school services to meet the needs of all children.

Reading: The International Reading Association (IRA, 2008) calls on its members to provide curriculum and instruction that is “differentiated to meet the individual needs of all students, free from cultural and linguistic bias, and represent(s) multiple perspectives and interpretations.

The Educator Preparation Program at UWRF and its partner districts are located within multicultural communities comprised of people of diverse racial, ethnic, and class backgrounds; national origins; sexual orientations; religious, spiritual, and political beliefs; physical abilities; ages; genders; gender identities; and physical appearances. These communities are enriched by members’ openness to learning about and accepting others. The faculty works to create environments characterized by respect, acceptance, safety, and trust. All members of the Educator Preparation Program, as well as its candidates, are expected to be respectful, supportive, and accepting of all individuals, including pupils, clients, families, staff, peers, and research participants.

“Creativity and imagination are … two of the most important aspects of education and spirited living. Without an ability to imagine and create, cultures would stagnate and the world would be far less interesting.”
(Goldberg, 2001, p. 45)

The development of creative and original ideas is stressed throughout the work of the Educator Preparation Program. Faculty demonstrate qualities that foster creativity and nurture these qualities in themselves and in others. They encourage candidates in all areas to display creativity in all aspects of their work, including the use of technology in accordance with perspectives and standards associated their specific disciplines (see Feller, 2003; Hoff & Buchholz, 1998; Lejeune & Gunter, 2003). Candidates are encouraged to engage in original work, to seek out creative opportunities, and to facilitate creative instructional and practice strategies that involve the visual arts, the physical arts, and the dramatic arts. Each program supports a learning environment with open-ended possibilities for candidate work that will motivate and engage them in original expression.

A collaborative process [supports] change in programs, teaching, and individual/group interaction far beyond our initial expectations. …this kind of collaboration [is] much more supportive of critical reflection and growth… [It] leads to sustainable change.
(Johnston,1997, p. 6)

The structures of the teacher education, school psychology, counseling, communicative disorders, administrative, and reading programs in the Educator Preparation Program create a blending of academic and experiential curricula in their respective content areas through collaboration with field-based professionals, preparing candidates to become confident educational and mental health professionals. Intensive field-based experiences reinforce the connection between best practices, research, and application of theories and methodologies
 in authentic settings and support the learning that takes place at the university. Empirical and conceptual support for collaborative practice is abundant throughout the literature in teacher education (e.g., Danielson, 1996), school psychology (e.g., Nahari, Martines, & Marquez, 2007), counseling (e.g., Simcox, Nuijens, & Lee, 2006), communicative disorders (e.g., Paradice, Bailey-Wood, Davies, & Solomon, 2007), reading (e.g., IRA, 2008), and administration (e.g., ISLLC, 2007).

Urban, suburban, and rural school districts and human service institutions throughout western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota (inclusive of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area) welcome Educator Preparation Program students into their buildings and classrooms. Because candidates bring innovative and creative ideas into educational and therapeutic settings, cooperating professionals are eager to host them and learn from them.

The program itself is an example of collaboration within the University, having been honored for its strong collaborative practices by the University of Wisconsin-System Board of Regents. Faculty and administrators in the College of Education and Professional Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences collaborate in an environment of respect on all aspects of the programs, through the Educator Preparation Program and its policy body, the Educator Preparation Program  .

UWRF works to partner regionally and nationally to promote and improve educator preparation practices.  We partner with the UW System Schools in many ways including the edTPA Coordinators group, the WFORT, DTECH, Urban Institute and when working on major curriculum changes.   We partner nationally with Zhejiang International Studies University (ZISU) in Hangzhou, China, the 1+1+2 program has participating elementary education students from ZISU spending their second year as undergraduates at UWRF. They take courses in Teacher Education, English as a Second Language, and other content areas.

Faculty collaborate in teaching the block courses that culminate the programs of most of our teacher education graduates, both teaching collaboratively and collaborating in supervising candidates’ school experiences. Faculty also collaborate in research, planning and carrying out shared research projects and presenting their work at conferences and in print.

“The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these influences...I believe finally, that education must be conceived as a continuing reconstruction of experience; that the process and the goal of education are one and the same thing.”
(Dewey, 1897, pp. 77-80)

Constructivism is a learning theory that offers an explanation of the nature of knowledge and how human beings learn. It asserts that individuals create or construct their own new understandings or knowledge through the interaction of what they already know and believe and the ideas, events, and activities with which they come in contact (Cannella & Reiff, 1994; Richardson, 1997). Knowledge is developed through participation instead of imitation or repetition (Kroll & LaBoskey, 1996). Learning activities in constructivist settings are characterized by active engagement, inquiry, problem solving, and collaboration with others. The teacher is a facilitator and guide, often exploring questions and challenges with students. Support for a constructivist approach to teaching, learning, and personal growth is evident not only in the teacher education literature as highlighted above, but also in the literature bases for school psychology (e.g., Bursztyn, 2007; Green & Gredler, 2002), counseling (e.g., Cottone, 2007), and communicative disorders (e.g., Ertmer & Ertmer, 1998; Hagstrom, 2006)).

We approach constructivism from two different perspectives. Initially, program candidates engage in classroom activities designed by faculty to build on their prior knowledge and experiences and to create new paradigms of learning to inform their emerging professional practice theories and methodologies that drive their work with others. Through field-based experiences, candidates take these theories and methodologies and apply them to educational and therapeutic settings that serve students ages 0-21, where they lead students or clients in interactive projects, scaffolded learning opportunities, or collaborative therapeutic alliances to buiild solid cognitive foundations, academic success, strong receptive and expressive language abilities, optimal mental health functioning, and  kinesthetic awareness and skills. The Educator Preparation Program seeks to foster and facilitate constructivism in its faculty as they pursue and achieve various scholarly, research, and service endeavors, as well.

In addition, faculty, administration and staff strive to understand the socially constructed realities of colleagues and to engage in constructivist development of shared ideas and practices. The following are examples of how this conceptual framework influences other documents.
The document was shared with Educator Preparation Program faculty at the Fall 2009 Educator Preparation Program meeting, and with the Alumni Board at their August meeting. It was sent along with our newsletter to local superintendents.

A committee is formed to review the conceptual framework, including the mission and vision statements, every five years. If significant changes were needed in between, a committee would be formed to work on that. The committee includes representatives from initial and advanced programs.

Connections with individual professional education programs are clearly articulated in the conceptual framework/mission/vision document and are apparent in the choices of assessments made by programs.

The Mission Statement describes goals for program completers as: know the content of their disciplines…, have the skills and knowledge to produce positive change in students and clients, and be creative, reflective, and ethical practitioners in their fields.

Conceptual Framework Foundations

Educator and Pupil Services Content Standards



Portfolio Based Assessment - Multiple Standards

Field Experience and Student Teacher/Practicum Evaluations


Portfolio Based Assessment - Signature Assessments - (ex. Lesson planning)

Scaffolded Dispositions Assessments Beginning in early Foundations through Student teaching


Portfolio Based Assessments - Multiple artifacts across program preparation courses Developmental in Scope and Sequence and measured over time.

Dispositional Self Assessments


Portfolio Based  Assessments - Signature assessments within Field Placements/Practicum

Extensive Field Experience Hours/Student Teaching/Practicum

Contact Us

Education Preparation Program
203 Wyman Education Building
Phone: 715-425-3774

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