Conceptual Framework

The Conceptual Framework articulates a shared vision of the School of Education.  It serves as a means to communicate a rationale for educational practice and a guide for how professional education programs are planned and organized. A conceptual framework gives an educational program its own distinct emphasis, a vision of the kind of program it wants to be and the characteristics of the teachers it hopes to develop. It simply describes for everyone what the program is all about.

The Processes for Development of the Conceptual Framework

SOE faculty engages in a process of reviewing and articulating our shared beliefs through the creation of a conceptual framework. The impetus for these continuous improvement efforts includes the challenge of new education standards, current research on effective practice, and the specific needs of our student population. 

Faculty from School Health Education, Physical Education Teacher Education and the Department of Educational Studies came together as a design team.  They first reviewed the existing conceptual framework document and surveyed the entire SOE faculty.  They then began researching current research as well as conceptual frameworks from other Institutions of Higher Learning.  They drafted a document and presented it to the SOEL team who took the draft to their program areas for discussion.  The design team then revised based on recommendations of the faculty and presented the draft again to SOEL, where the leadership team discussed needed revisions.  The conceptual framework was brought to a vote at the April 20, 2007  School of Education meeting. 

The Conceptual Framework will be reviewed and revised on a five-year cycle.  This process will begin with a discussion of our beliefs and practices as a shared vision of the School of Education by the SOE faculty.  A design team made up of 3-5 SOE faculty members representing multiple programs will then be established.  The design team will review the current conceptual framework and solicit input from the entire SOE faculty regarding the potential need to revise the current document. Drafts of a revised document will be circulated at SOEL meetings as well as program meetings. A first reading will be held at an SOE meeting. A second reading and vote of the entire faculty at a School of Education meeting will complete the process.

Conceptual Framework

Visual Conceptual Framework Explanation:

Across the United States and around the world, teachers face many challenges. Especially problematic are the economic, social, and political contexts that make difficult our attempts to address differences and inequities in schools and other learning environments. Yet, in the face of these challenges, we are committed to preparing teachers who teach all learners.  

The core of the School of Education’s conceptual framework depicts our vision and commitment to providing professional education programs focused on preparing globally responsive teachers.  Learners inhabit the core of our visual as a constant reminder that our purpose is ultimately to serve the needs of diverse learners across the age spans. We have intentionally placed reflective practice near the core of our vision and around the learners to illustrate the importance of reflection in all aspects of the teaching profession. Our teacher education candidates will become globally responsive teachers only through meaningful and ongoing reflective practice and professional development. Reflective practice builds and sustains the knowledge and skills needed for effective teaching. The outside rings represents the values and dispositions we foster in order for our vision to become a reality. 

A globally responsive professional education program includes the following:

  • Teacher candidates gain understanding of contemporary content issues from a variety of perspectives.
  • Teacher candidates learn how to employ discipline-specific skills in their analyses of global issues.
  • Teacher candidates design integrated curricular units so their students will have a greater understanding of the world.
  • Teacher candidates are encouraged and supported to engage in international study abroad programs.
  • Teacher candidates develop model lessons that infuse global awareness into their curriculum.
  • Teacher candidates develop enrichment or enhancement activities which are designed to expand students' understanding of cultural, environmental, and/or civic issues.
  • Teacher candidates consider content issues, both local and global, using technology, and utilizing community resources to enhance learning and expand their resource networks.

For resources to infuse the conceptual framework into your courses, go to the School of Education web site.

Alignment with Wisconsin Teacher Standards

The criticality of grounding our teacher candidates in the Wisconsin Teacher Standards throughout the teacher preparation programs across the university was at the forefront when the conceptual framework design team gathered. Therefore, the design team was purposeful throughout the developmental stages to ensure connections could be made between the Wisconsin Teacher Standards and the conceptual framework. In the table below, these connections are illustrated:

Conceptual Framework Component

Teacher Standard(s)

Reflective Practice

Standard 9: Reflective Practice

Continuous Improvement

Standard 8: Evaluation
Standard 9: Reflective Practice

Best Practices Pedagogy

Standard 4: Variety of Instructional Strategies
Standard 7: Plans & Integrates
Standard 9: Reflective Practice

Critical Thinking

Standard 7: Plans & Integrates
Standard 8: Evaluation
Standard 9: Reflective Practice

Productive Learning Environment

Standard 2: Understands Development
Standard 4: Designs Instructional Strategies
Standard 5: Motivates
Standard 6: Communication
Standard 9: Reflective Practice

Lifelong Learner

Standard 1: Content Knowledge

Practices Professional Ethics

Standard 10: Professional Relationships

Upholds Social Justice

Standard 3: Understands Differences

Fosters Meaningful Relationships

Standard 5: Motivates
Standard 6: Communication
Standard 10: Professional Relationships

Alignment between SOE’s Conceptual Framework and UW-L’s General Education

The UW-L Teacher Education Conceptual Framework seeks to guide the School of Education to become a leader in the preparation of globally responsive teachers. In doing so, the School’s mission is to “develop within its graduates a commitment to the teaching profession, a profound respect for the dignity of all learners, and the professional competencies that enable them to be effective teachers and responsible citizens in a diverse and dynamic world.” Similarly, the university’s General Education mission is to educate “the whole person” and to cultivate the “knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for independent learning and thinking.” In the General Education program, students are expected not only to grow in knowledge but also “to ask significant questions, seek appropriate solutions to complex problems, make sound judgments and formulate rational beliefs.” Taken together, the UW-L Teacher Education Conceptual Framework and the UW-L General Education program provide a consistent message regarding the training of globally responsive teachers at UW-L.

Alignment with General Education

The following table provides additional evidence of the alignment between the components of the Teacher Education Conceptual Framework and the General Education program at UW-L.

Conceptual Framework Component

Related UW-L General Education Component

Reflective Practice

The primary purpose of General Education is to cultivate knowledge, skills, and dispositions essential for independent learning and thinking.

Continuous Improvement

Provide opportunities for students…to plan a life which makes the best possible use of work and leisure time.

Best Practices Pedagogy

Understanding of concepts, ideas and systems of thought that underlie human activities.

0Critical Thinking

Skills in analytical, logical and critical thinking in various branches of knowledge.

Productive Learning Environment

Understanding of concepts, ideas and systems of thought that underlie human activities.

Lifelong Learner

Students will…ask significant questions, seek appropriate solutions to complex problems, make sound judgments and formulate rational beliefs.

Practices Professional Ethics

[Humanistic Studies] courses focus on what it means to be human, and what was, is, and should be valued by human beings.

Upholds Social Justice

Understanding of the social, political, and economic frameworks of societies within the global context;
Understanding of and sensitivity to cultural diversity in the United States.

Fosters Meaningful Relationships

Communication skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening.

Global Dimensions Knowledge Base


The strongest research base that supports the conceptual framework is the Association of American Colleges and Universities report on the condition of higher education in the United States, a report which also ties globalization to Liberal Education, ( . The need for global education in the United States has also been acknowledged and encouraged by various sectors, including the commercial, political, and cultural.  All sectors agree that without a concerted national effort to realign college learning to the needs of the new global century, most students will not benefit from a college education. Partly acknowledging such need, the American Association of Colleges and Universities declared that globalization is an essential component of Liberal Education and America’s Promise. What lends credence to the AACU report is that it is one of the few higher education associations concerned with the nature and quality of university education in the United States. A conservative estimate is that the AACU represents over one thousand colleges and universities in the USA.

In addition to the AACU, a number of professional educational associations view globalization as an essential component in North American Universities. Among the professional associations are the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, (; the Association for Teacher Educators, (; the Comparative and International Studies Society, (; and the National Association for Multicultural Education, ( These associations represent a minute number of professional educators who advocate for globalizing education.

The associations listed above are among those that strive to value and protect the integrity and quality of education in the United States and represent a segment of those that abide rigorous standards of academic excellence. A significant number of faculty at UW-L’s School of Education are active members of professional associations.


For us at UW-L, the challenge of globalization in teacher education resonates not only with the University’s Growth and Access Plan, but with the State of Wisconsin’s role as one of the pioneering states in making globalization a reality in the curriculum and in the schools of education in particular. In a summary and prognosis of the condition of Education in Wisconsin, ( those at the help of the state’s educational policies reiterate and affirm the need for strong liberal education that is accepting of global realities. Among the desired outcomes of such an education, according to the Wisconsin Initiative, would be intercultural literacy and global knowledge in graduates of Wisconsin institutions of higher education.


The Growth and Access Plan ( reflects the institution-wide desire to prepare students for engaging new and emerging realities, including globalization and working in a multicultural society. Because the Growth and Access reflects the University’s long term’s strategies, it also shows the extent to which it is committed to achieving globalization and the ways to which it is committed to making resources available for such to materialize. The Plan not only seeks to maintain and ensure educational quality for faculty and students, but to align its outreach programs towards globalizing the curriculum and the institution in general. The centrality of globalization in the Growth and Access Plan, and the School of Education’s conceptual framework reflect that our planning and that of the main institution are aligned, and that our vision enhances our capacity to fulfill its mission. In addition, there is a deliberate commitment to providing resources so that the institutional goals are realized.

Besides the Growth and Access Plan, various constituencies in the University are engaged in the pursuit of a more global and democratic University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Under the auspices of the Wisconsin Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, a department that houses some of our students and faculty will be hosting an international conference focusing on globalization, pluralism, and international education, ( The general campus climate is conducive to implementing a conceptual framework that emphasizes the importance of globalization. Other institutional organizations that espouse the value of globalization include the Office of International Education, (; the Center for Cultural Diversity and Community Renewal, (; the Institute for Racial and Ethnic Studies, (; and the Campus Climate Office, ( In many and varied ways, these and other constituencies embrace and value globalization.

  • School of Education
    As a body, the School of Education values globalization. Collaborative ventures exist with other learning institutions, in the United States and abroad. Sister cites and mutual exchange programs have been established with colleges and universities in different parts of the globe. A number of the School of Education’s faculty have taught abroad, or conducted research related to education in foreign lands. Many return cognizant of the need to honor global diversity and the dignity of others. Many also recognize the importance of embracing globalization while incorporating aspects of history and tradition they wish to preserve and maintain. In addition, the School of Education provides support for general professional development in all areas including global education as well as faculty keeping abreast with current trends in education.

  • Faculty
    Faculty members in the School of Education are also committed to globalization. In April 2007, there was a near unanimous vote to approve a new conceptual framework at whose core is the educator as a globally reflective practitioner. Most are aware of the emerging realities, and of the ways in which the United States is changing from a predominantly manufacturing economy to one which is knowledge based. In addition, many acknowledge the consistently changing demographics which necessitate new pedagogies. As reflected by the adoption of the new framework, faculty members are supportive of innovation and change. Many are actively engaged in the School of Education’s current capacities and needs. Faculty in different programs regularly review academic courses, paying particular attention to currency and relevance.

  • Staff
    Besides faculty, staff members in the School of Education are also aware of the place and importance of globalization. The advising systems not only focus on student learning, but the many skills required to succeed academically and otherwise. In addition, learning resources are provided to support effective student learning on major issues including, but not limited to globalization.

  • Students
    (Derek (2006) and Adelman (2004) observe that in general, American college graduates are under-prepared for a global world. Both note that while most Americans acknowledge the global super-power status of the United States, American colleges continue focusing on national and parochial issues as if splendid isolation rather than mutual cooperation will be the modus operandi. As such, in most American universities, there is a need for educators to be intentional about teaching globalization. Derek further states that less than 15% of America’s graduates have the knowledge and experience to function in a complex and global environment.

    While the report on recent college graduates shows that many lack knowledge of the global world, (, students currently enrolled in the School of Education embrace globalization. Many value global literacy and are cognizant of the importance of being engaged citizens in a complex global world. Many of our students have studied abroad, and find such experiences enriching. Some have been involved in initiatives for reaching out to Developing Nations, and many have produced scholarship reflective of their efforts to understand themselves as part of the global community.

  • Stakeholders
    Within the state of Wisconsin, and education in particular, the Department of Public Instruction is an important stakeholder that espouses the need for globalization. Even the nation itself is taking note of the globalization initiatives promulgated by the DPI, ( For the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, among the many goals for a quality education and accountability will be global literacy.

  • Conclusion:
    The need for a new conceptual framework adopted by the School of Education is based on research on current trends in education from reputable professional associations, the professional opinions of stakeholders in the State of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and the School of Education in general. Our conceptual framework reflects our desire to operate with maximum integrity to ensure the fulfillment of educational goals through structures and processes that involve national and state organizations, professional and academic literature, local institutional administration, faculty, staff, and students.

Other scholars on globalization and education:
(A comprehensive appraisal of American education and the need for seriously addressing globalization and locating it as a university wide education, especially in relation to liberal arts education. Most recent document from American Association of Universities and Colleges, with various reports and surveys on college education).

Augustine, N. “Learning to Lose? Our Education System  Isn’t Ready for a World of Competition,” Washington Post, December 6, 2005.

Jones, R. “Liberal Education for the 21st Century: Business Expectations,” Liberal Education 91. # 2 (2005): 32-37. (The importance of globalization from the perspective of business communities mainly in the USA). Argues for need for global readiness of graduates).

Miller, J. (2002). “Civic Scientific Literacy: A Necessity in the 21st Century,” FAS Public Interest Report 55 # 1: 3-6. (Acknowledges technological savvy in most USA college students, however, not matched by global civic engagemet).

Nussbaum, M. (1998). Cultivating humanity: A classical defense of  reform in liberal education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (Examine the relationship between liberal education and globalization as conceptualized for the new century).

Meacham, J & J. Gaff. (2006). “Learning goals in mission statements: Implications for educational leadership,” Liberal Education 92 # 1: 6-13. (On the importance of being intentional about globalization, assessment and accountability).

Orrill, R. (1997). Education and Democracy: Re-imagining liberal learning in America. New York: College Board. (Discusses the value of service learning/internships).

Qin-Hillard, D. (2005). Globalization, culture and education in the new millennium. Berkeley: University of California Press. (The emergence of global cities in the US as need to address globalization; global cities have globalizing tendencies and consequences).

Germain, M. (1998). World teachers: cultural learning and pedagogy. Westport: Bergin and Garvey. (Need for educators to be competent in cultures other than Northern America, and how educators benefit by learning about educational systems in other nations).

Stromquist, N. (2002). Education in a globalized world: the connectivity of economic power, technology, and knowledge. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. (Theoretical and practical justification for placing globalization at the heart of schools/education).

Gaudelli, W. (2005). World Class: Teaching and learning in global times. Mahwah: N.J.

Kubow, P. (1999). “Preparing future secondary teachers for citizenship educator roles: A possible direction for preservice education in the new century,” Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education and Development: (2) 2, 53-64.

Rotberg, I. (2004). Balancing change and tradition in global education reform. Lanham: Scarecrow Education.

Conceptual Framework Components Knowledge Base

Conceptual Framework Component

Knowledge Base

Reflective Practice

The father of reflection, John Dewey, defined reflective action as "that which involves active, persistent, and careful consideration of any belief or practice in light of the reasons that support it and the further consequences to which it leads" (cited in Zeichner & Liston, 1996, p. 9). Ziechner and Liston endorse Dewey's notion of reflection, as “that which involves active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or practice in light of the reasons that support it and the further consequences to which it leads,” and make the point that reflection is not so much a series of steps or a procedure but rather, a holistic orientation to teaching; a way of being a teacher that entails open-mindedness, responsibility and wholeheartedness (Zeichner and Liston, 1996: 9-10). With the publication of Schön's The Reflective Practitioner in 1983, the notion of "knowledge-in action" has held sway in teacher education programs. Since the 1980s "reflective teaching" has become a slogan for most teacher education programs (Zeichner, 1996), and teacher education programs have begun to develop curricula that help to instill the dispositions and skills necessary to study one's own teaching practices.  However, according to Zeichner (1996), much of the work that comes under the heading of the reflective practice movement undermines teacher development.  He argues, "Even when reflection is used as a vehicle for genuine teacher development, however, teacher development often is seen as an end in itself, unconnected to broader questions about education in democratic societies.  In its extreme form, we see an uncritical glorification of anything that a teacher does or says and an outright rejection of anything that is initiated outside the immediate context of classrooms"(p. 201).  He argues further "efforts to prepare teachers who are reflective must both foster genuine teacher development and support the realization of greater equity and social justice in schooling and the larger society" (p. 201).  If reflection is to foster genuine teacher development, then, we need to teach teacher candidates to reflect critically on their teaching to continue to grow and learn about themselves, their students, and the teaching profession in the larger context. 

Continuous Improvement

Improvement is a continuous process. The accomplished teacher engages in continuous professional quality improvement for self and school. Fullan, (2006) notes that one of the keys to effective schools is “continuous assessment for teaching and learning.” Likewise, Hawley and Valli (2000) write, “The essential characteristic of effective professional development is that it involves continuous teacher and administrator learning in the context of collaborative problem solving.” Graduation from one of our professional education programs, then should be seen as the beginning rather than the end of the learning process.  Our goal is to provide our students with the knowledge to enter the profession with the tools to engage in on-going professional development.

Best Practices Pedagogy

Cochran Smith (2001) asks, “What are the teaching strategies and processes used by effective teachers, and, what teacher education processes are most effective in ensuring that prospective teachers learn these strategies?" She goes on to note, “At the same time that researchers and practitioners in teaching and teacher education were working to build and codify a knowledge base, new frameworks for teaching, learning, and curriculum in almost every K-12 subject area were also being developed by the discipline-based professional organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). These were based on new understandings about learning, cognition, and the socio-psycho-cultural construction of subject matter understandings. These were intended to promote teaching for meaning and understanding and explicitly to avoid narrow emphases on skills development and rote learning.”   Similarly, Darling-Hammond (2006) notes that this movement to a focus on standards shifts the focus from teaching to learning, and “rather than by looking only at the implementation of specific teaching behaviors, the new standards put considerations of effectiveness at the center of practice (p.81).  Our goal throughout the teacher education programs is to provide teacher candidates with the tools to assist them to make appropriate applications, analyses and judgments in learning environments.

Critical Thinking

Ladson-Billings (2001) citing critical theorists such as Giroux and Simon notes that pedagogy cannot simply be “what’s to be done?” but rather it includes the integration of practice of particular curriculum content and design, classroom strategies and techniques and evaluation purposes and methods.  She notes, “All of these aspects of educational practice come together in the realities of what happens in classrooms” (p. 29). In contrast to earlier behaviorist views of learning, teacher candidates must analyze, inquire, and engage in critical thinking (Etim, 2005).  We believe that teaching is an on-going problem-solving process and not a search for the one best way.  Therefore, oen of the critical components of our professional education programs is to assist each teacher candidate to develop the abilities to look at educational policy and decision making from multiple perspectives and to act in ways that have a sound and defensible rationale rooted in research, ethical standards, and personal experiences. 

Productive Learning Environment

Teachers need to know how to establish and maintain a productive learning environment.  Ball and Cohen (1999) note that in addition to knowing pedagogy, teachers need to “learn how to discern the constituents of the culture of the classroom, to have ideas about the kind of classroom culture that supports learning goals and about how to construct such a culture” (p. 9). Sergiovanni (1994) has argued that the school must play a vital role in community building by providing care, developing relationships, creating a common purpose, and fostering a sense of attachment or interconnectedness amongst people.  Through course work and field experiences, teacher candidates in our programs gain experience in learning how to facilitate and monitor productive learning environments.

Lifelong Learner

Lifelong learning offers the opportunity for people to bring and keep their knowledge up to date. It enables them to work consciously at extending their professional and personal horizons. From this broader viewpoint, the expansion of a cognitive repertoire and increasing one’s skills and competencies is an undertaking that can and should continue throughout life, as a necessary part of growth and development as a human being, as a citizen in a participative democracy, and as a productive agent in a process of economic change and advancement (Chapman and Aspin, 1997; Chapman et al, 2003).  Our Standards-in-Practice document is one means by which we have set the stage for development of the lifelong learner.  Our exemplary target in the Standards-in-Practice document should be seen by teacher candidates as a goal to assist them in the PDP and in their on-going professional development.

Practices Professional Ethics

A teacher's first ethical obligation is to provide excellent instruction to all. The moral heart of teaching, according to Hansen, integrates the teacher's sincere interest in the student, his/her responsibility for the relationship and the content learned and the image of a growing person.
The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (2002) defines dispositions as: The values, commitments and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development as well as educator's own professional growth. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice. For example, they might include a belief that all students can learn, a vision of high and challenging standards, or a commitment to a safe and supportive learning environment. We believe that dispositions are vitally important for effective teaching.  Yet, we do not assess or grade students on their attitudes or beliefs. It is the attentiveness and responsiveness rather than the beliefs that impact teachers, learners and their families and communities. Teacher candidates enter preparation programs with years of experience as students, what Lortie (1975) calls the "apprenticeship of observation,” suggesting that teacher socialization occurs largely through the internalization of teaching models during the time spent as pupils in close contact with teachers. During that time, they have formed many opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and values about schooling. Often these opinions, beliefs, attitudes, and values are aligned with research-based ideas on effective teaching. When this occurs, candidates are identified as having the “dispositions to teach” (Collinson et al., 1999). Florio-Ruane and Lensmire (1990) caution that sometimes prospective teachers do not enter the profession with the necessary dispositions for effective teaching. In all cases, our teacher preparation programs must help teacher candidates to develop the necessary dispositions to be effective teachers for all children. 

Upholds Social Justice

Studies show that in order for teacher candidates to teach all children, teachers must be provided with education and experiences that will enable them to examine their feelings, attitudes and values, and help to develop attitudes consistent with a democratic society.  Zeichner (1993) notes that teacher candidates should be taught about the dynamics of privilege and economic oppression and about school practices that contribute to the reproduction of societal inequalities. Likewise, Delpit (1995) notes, “if we are to successfully educate all of our children, we must work to remove the blinders built of stereotypes, monocultural instructional methodologies, ignorance, social distance, biased research, and racism” (p. 182).

Our mission is to develop within our graduates a commitment to the teaching profession, a profound respect for the dignity of all learners, and the professional competencies that enable them to be effective teachers and responsible citizens in a diverse and dynamic world. This mission matches the focus onequity as Banks and Banks (1995) define multicultural education:

"Multicultural education is a field of study and an emerging discipline whose major aim is to create equal educational opportunities for students from diverse racial, ethnic, social-class, and cultural groups. One of its important goals is to help all students to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to function effectively in a pluralistic democratic society and to interact, negotiate, and communicate with peoples from diverse groups in order to create a civic and moral community that works for the common good." (p. xi)

Fosters Meaningful Relationships

The need to develop meaningful and respectful relationships among adults and students enhances learning and aligns with our vision of helping teacher candidates understand and respect the rights of others. Darling-Hammond (1997) writes that the new paradigm for effective schools will be grounded on two assumptions: first, that teaching matters and, second, that relationships matter. Studies show students with caring and supportive interpersonal relationships in school report more positive academic attitudes and values, and more satisfaction with school. These students also are more engaged academically. (Klem and Connell, 2004) Current research strongly suggests the creation of a collaborative culture that fosters meaningful relationships as the single most important factor for successful school improvement (Little 1993; Fullan 2001; Slater, 2004). Slater (2004) notes that no single person or agency can meet the needs of the increasing number of children with educational, social, and medical problems who are at risk of being unsuccessful in school and society. Interagency collaborations involve new relationships between schools, community agency personnel, community members, and the children and families they serve. For teachers, the opportunity for professional collaboration with partners outside the classroom is closely related to standards of student achievement inside the classroom.


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Zeichner, K. (1996) Currents of reform in preservice teacher education. New York: Teachers College Press.

Zeichner, K. (2006). Educator Preparation: Quality Matters, a conference on teacher quality initiatives sponsored by the University of Wisconsin System on Nov. 2, 2006. Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.

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