Programs of study in the College of Education are grounded in the Conceptual Framework, Responsible Leaders Engaging in Professional Practice. Candidates are prepared in the core knowledge, skills, and dispositions that promote positive change in the community and profession, who are open to diversity and innovation, and act as culturally responsive inquirers. The college’s core components represent the university’s commitment to transforming the lives of student by working to ensure that all students become successful lifelong learners.
Through the theme of “Responsible Leaders Engaging in Professional Practice” the College of Education is supporting Nicholls State University’s mission to cultivate “productive, responsible, engaged citizens” who “meet the needs of Louisiana and beyond” within a conceptual framework that prepares candidates becoming culturally responsive inquirers, acting as curriculum agents and engaging in professional practice.
The conceptual framework offers all candidates in the College of Education a rationale for engaging in practical inquiry which argues the following: to be effective, educators must be able to generate and use both qualitative data and qualitative research to make informed decisions about their educational practice. By using the conceptual framework, the unit’s faculty members prepare candidates to become professional educators who actively investigate the educational and developmental needs of all students and their communities, and to recognize that both they and their students live and interact within culturally diverse, socially pluralistic communities. The exercise of “Responsible Leadership” further prepares candidates to take an active role in evaluating and enriching their own pedagogical-professional practices.
Culturally responsive educators possess the knowledge and skills needed to inquire into and utilize the cultural characteristics, experiences and perceptions of the region’s diverse student population as a catalyst for effective educational practice. Through culturally responsive inquiry, candidates will be better able to build conceptual bridges over which they can lead students who connect informal, locally situated knowledge with the formal, global disciplinary knowledge represented by the content areas disciplines. Culturally responsive candidates are able to demonstrate the ability to research and study the region’s diverse cultural, social and physical environment as well as evaluate the intellectual, social, psychological and physical needs of their students both individually and as a group.
By promoting positive change, educational professionals recognize that educating students is a complex intellectual and ethical activity. As a responsible leader, educational professionals promote positive change which extends the educational practices beyond the limits of the school curriculum. Promoting positive change also concerns how education contributes generally to the improvement of the local ecology (e.g., the culture, environment, and community) as well as how the school curriculum transforms and is transformed by that ecology.
Responsible leaders demonstrate openness towards students’ diverse backgrounds. They are responsible for developing and maintaining behaviors that actively affirm and promote the region’s diversity. They recognize that in order for education to transform the lives of all students they must learn to build upon the knowledge that students bring to their school experience. Demonstrating this will require candidates to maintain an ethical position that acknowledges that the educational transformation of the learner is significantly enhanced through a transformation of the community as a whole.
As responsible leaders, educational professionals understand the relationship between content knowledge, pedagogical-professional, and technological skills. They are able to demonstrate the ability to integrate this knowledge and these skills for the purpose of teaching students to become successful learners. As such, becoming an agent for positive change requires educators to demonstrate openness toward and take responsibility for innovations in their professional practices, not the least being technological innovation. Professional practice calls educators both to practical action in the service of students and to use theoretical, empirical, and technological knowledge to ensure that all students are learning. Educators use critical inquiry to make judgments about how to apply content area, local ecological and theoretical knowledge as well as pedagogical-professional and technological skills in practical settings to enhance the learning behaviors of all students.
Professional Commitments and Dispositions:
Professional practice is grounded in the belief that educators are active learners who are responsible for their own learning. By engaging in critical inquiry, educational professionals learn how to question personal assumptions that typically impinge upon their practical activities. Questioning their practical activities helps educators continuously work to improve their own professional practices through reflection, research and collaboration. In this way, critical inquiry allows educators to transform their practical experiences into new knowledge, improved skill, and develop appropriate dispositions.
Commitment to Diversity:
Candidates who engage in culturally responsive inquiry demonstrate an attitude of openness towards students diverse backgrounds. Candidates will be responsible for developing and maintaining ethical behaviors that actively affirm the region’s diversity. Candidates recognize that in order for education to transform the lives of all students they must learn to build upon, rather than replace, the knowledge that students bring to the school experience.
Commitment to Technology
Candidates are required to use emerging technologies in order to become curriculum agents who engage in culturally responsive inquiry. Because candidates who are open to innovation acknowledge that they are responsible for representing both the school curriculum and the world beyond the school to their students. Through the development of their knowledge, skills, and dispositions, candidates integrate emerging technologies with their knowledge of the disciplines, local ecological knowledge and pedagogical-professional skills. Through professional practice, candidates learn to experiment systematically with innovative and varied educational approaches. This practice helps them to identify those new technologically driven practices that best meet the demands of the changing contexts of both the school and the society. In doing so, candidates will learn to facilitate students’ use of emerging technologies to explore the local ecology and to build conceptual bridges to the content area disciplines. Professional practice requires candidates to use reflective inquiry to demonstrate that they are making critical judgements about how to apply content area, local ecological and theoretical knowledge as well as pedagogical-professional and techological skills in practical settings to enhance the learning behaviors of all students. Candidates need to explore ways of using emerging technologies as tools to engage in reflective inquiry to explore and understand the socio-cultural contexts of their experiences that make up the communities in the region.
Candidate Proficiencies Aligned with Professional and State Standards:
The units candidates are expected to demonstrate the knowledge, skills and dispositions that have been aligned with state and national curriculum standards and standards of professional practice, as outlined by the appropriate professional organizations. The College of Education has developed the following unit outcomes based on the conceptual framework:
1. Candidates will demonstrate collaborative leadership in the school and the community to promote the healthy development of all students.
2. Candidates will possess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of their professional discipline and engage in lifelong learning.
3. Candidates will advocate in the school and the larger community to promote access, equity, and success for all students.
4. Candidates will respond effectively to the needs of diverse learners.
5. Candidates will examine and modify their beliefs and practices in response to the emerging research and the changing context of schools and communities.
6. Candidates will demonstrate an understanding of how cultural differences influence student development and accommodate individual needs.