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Teacher Education Program Conceptual Framework

This visual reflects the philosophical underpinnings of the UCM reflective practice model as described in the Conceptual Framework of the teacher education program. It merges Sternberg and Williams’ (2002) triarchic aspects of intelligence as three ways of thinking, reflecting and integrating knowledge and skills into practice as well as a simplified vision of McCown’s reflective construction.

Belief Statement: The Central educator is a competent, caring, reflective practitioner committed to the premise that all can learn.

Mission: As a cornerstone of the institution since 1871, the University of Central Missouri's Teacher Education Program develops teachers and other school professionals who are well grounded in theory, display competence in content knowledge and instructional strategies, and possess the dispositions to ensure success for all learners. The Teacher Education Program prepares individuals as professional educators for an ever-changing, culturally diverse population. Faculty and candidates provide support and service to schools in meeting their present and future challenges by developing communities that learn through research and scholarly activities. Educator preparation is a campus-wide responsibility, a commitment that reflects the honor and worth of serving a vital profession.

Defined in the work of John Dewey (1933), reflective practice is “the active, persistent and careful consideration of any belief or supposed form of knowledge in light of the grounds that support it” (p. 9).  The UCM reflective practitioner model, therefore, acknowledges that neither knowledge nor experience alone will produce an expert teacher. Rather, educator preparation must be a recursive, developmental process that requires intentional learner-educators to expand their knowledge base, skills, and dispositions continually through ongoing application, evaluation and reflection. 

Effective teachers must possess a thorough understanding of the research-supported knowledge base, including foundational theories and models of education, child development and educational psychology, content, and curriculum related to their area of practice, behavior management and motivation, instructional strategies for all students, and assessment and data-based classroom decision-making. In UCM’s educator preparation program, this fundamental information is introduced in three undergraduate core courses: Foundations of Education, Educational Psychology, and Education of the Exceptional Child. As part of those three courses, students are exposed to and assessed on their developing knowledge in each of these core areas.

However, it is not sufficient for candidates to merely understand and articulate the knowledge base. They must also develop skills in applying their knowledge to classroom practice. Structured activities and classroom observations in three core courses provide candidates with an opportunity to identify relationships between theory and practice, to systematically reflect on their experiences through personal narratives (Lefrancois, 2000), and to begin to develop their own research-based theory of teaching (McCown, Driscoll, & Roop, 1996). As summarized by Sternberg and Williams (2002), developing instructional expertise involves knowing the content and practical instructional strategies, observing and practicing the behaviors of successful teachers, reflecting on what works and what does not, and integrating the knowledge and skills into a unique and personal teaching style.  Therefore, the three core courses also introduce candidates to the practice of reflection through modeling, discussion, observation, application, and case-study based activities and assessments using Sternberg’s triarchic aspects of intelligence (2002):

  • Thinking analytically: Critical thinking and reflection about the knowledge base
  • Thinking practically: Critical thinking and reflection about integrating course content into the knowledge base, applying knowledge to P-12 classroom practice, refining personal philosophy of teaching
  • Thinking creatively: Critical thinking and reflection about the teaching and learning process, integrating and refining knowledge and skills, applying knowledge and skills to P-12 classroom practice, and revisiting and reconstructing the knowledge base

These course-embedded activities provide candidates with an opportunity to practice what Slavin (2012) called necessary teacher decision-making skills “Educators must decide (1) how to recognize problems and issues, (2) how to consider situations from multiple perspectives, (3) how to call up relevant professional knowledge to formulate actions, (4) how to take the most appropriate action, and (5) how to judge the consequences” (p. 13).

Once undergraduate teacher education candidates have acquired a basic understanding of the core knowledge base, they move into higher-level teacher education courses that build on this information and expand into the three types of expert knowledge described by Sternberg and Williams (2002) as (1) content or subject matter knowledge, (2) pedagogical knowledge—strategies for instruction and assessment of student learning, and (3) pedagogical content knowledge— instruction and assessment strategies for specific content areas.  Activities throughout the teacher education course sequence (see Teacher Education Program Curriculum Crosswalk) build upon the core knowledge base by continued modeling, observation, and practical application activities and assessments.

UCM’s graduate and advanced programs, likewise, further develop and build on these three areas of expertise.  In each of the specialized advanced program areas, curriculum, course activities, and assessments have been designed to deepen professional knowledge and skills and prepare candidates as instructional leaders and educational professionals in library science, counseling, literacy, special education, educational technology, and school administration.


  • Dewey, J. (1933). How we think: A restatement of the relation of reflective thinking to the educative process (Rev. ed.). Boston: D. C. Heath.
  • Lefrancois, G. R.  (2000). Psychology for teaching (8th ed.). University of Alberta: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.
  • McCown, R. R., Driscoll, M. P., & Roop, P. (1996). Educational psychology: Learning centered approach to classroom practice. Allyn & Bacon.
  • Slavin, R. E. (2012). Educational psychology: Theory and practice (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
  • Sternberg, R. J., & Williams, W. M. (2002).  Educational psychology. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.