Conceptual Framework

The College of Education faculty at the University of Mary Washington continually strive to contribute to and disseminate the most up to date knowledge and skills in the field of education. The five components of the framework are emphasized by the faculty in implementing coursework, programs and research. They are strands which are interwoven throughout our programs.

Discipline-Based Knowledge
Discipline-based knowledge is a pre-requisite for effective teaching (Wilson, Floden & Ferrini-Mundy, 2001). In order to ensure candidates attain content mastery, candidates enrolled in the teacher education programs at Mary Washington are required to demonstrate content expertise. Teaching endorsements for candidates moving through the 5-year undergraduate/graduate M.Ed. pathways in secondary, PreK-12 and special education and the five-year M.S. in Elementary Education programs at UMW are gained through a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Sciences (B.S.) degree in an academic major or through a liberal arts and sciences core of coursework for candidates meeting the requirements to earn a Bachelor of Liberal Studies (B.L.S.) degree. Candidates entering the M.Ed. programs are assessed on the pedagogical and endorsement competencies enumerated in the Virginia Licensure Regulations for School Personnel (2011) and the Guidelines for Uniform Performance Standards and Evaluation Criteria for Teachers, Administrators and Superintendents (2011), and the Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Standards (2011). Throughout their tenure in the Teacher Education Programs at UMW, all candidates must demonstrate competency in the Virginia Standards of Learning. Assessment instruments, including rubrics, examinations, teaching and internships, are based on these standards.

Theory to Practice
Field experiences provide candidates with essential exposure to the school culture, classroom routines, implemented curriculum, and teaching procedures (Darling-Hammond & Bransford, 2007). In practicum experiences, candidates apply concepts presented in their courses. These concepts are centered around theories of learning, including perspectives of cognition; affective, social and emotional development; and the impact of cultural differences and disabilities on learning and instruction. Interns’ classroom experiences help to establish knowledge and confidence as novice teachers. They become aware of the differences between children at the same grade levels and at different grade levels. Student internship is the capstone experience of the licensure programs as teacher candidates are challenged to pull together their personal and educational experiences, reflecting as well as performing as classroom teachers. Internships for practicing teachers provide experiences that ensure competency in areas of added endorsements.

Democratic Community
Teachers and administrators must display concern that takes into account individual and cultural differences in such permutations of diversity as ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, class, age, geography, language, cognitive style, giftedness and disabilities (Gay, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1995). Such concern results from a process of ethical reasoning sensitive to humanistic and democratic principles (Dewey, 1916), and an assessment of the effects of such diversity upon the lives of children and the learning community in order to provide an enhanced learning environment for all participants in the educational process (Banks & Banks, 2006; Spindler, 1987). Teacher candidates learn to work “with others to create environments that support individual and collaborative learning and that encourage positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation” (InTASC Standard #3). Teacher candidates learn to build rapport with students and parents, to establish and enforce rules, and to create a positive emotional environment (Brandt, 1998).

Changing Nature of Learning
While the College of Education continues to be grounded in a strong liberal arts curriculum, our programs strive to stimulate higher levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation that empower educators and their students to distill what is critical from the expanded knowledge-base brought on by a global society. Through our increased networked world, we encounter knowledge in multiple forms: in print, in images, in video, and in combinations of forms in digital contexts, and students in classrooms are continually asked to represent their knowledge in an equally complex manner (National Research Council, 2000). Teacher candidates are challenged to use multi-literacies in their teaching and learning to reflect the changing nature of learning in the 21st century (Skerrett, 2011).  Faculty, candidates and educators in the community need to be prepared for unpredictable paths of change throughout life. This preparation involves skills for lifelong learning, self-advocacy, the management of information, openness and reflectivity toward others’ points of view, and an understanding that the advancement of knowledge strengthens and enriches individuals and communities.

Reflective Professionals
Teachers and administrators must have the ability to monitor their own professional growth, as well as possess the research and inquiry capabilities to ensure the effectiveness of their efforts. All aspects of the program seek to enhance inclinations and aptitudes for research and reflection on educational practice and purpose, subject matter, and educational policy (Martin, Majesky & Eckler, 2003; Schon, 1983). Candidates in the education programs at UMW learn and apply the principles of reflective practice and critical thinking. Critical thinking in this case is defined as “the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action”  (Derived from Michael Scriven & Richard Paul for the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking Instruction, 1987).


Banks, J. A. & Banks, C. (2006). Multicultural education: Issues and perspectives. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Brandt, R. (1998). Powerful learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Darling-Hammond, L. & Bransford, J., et. al. (2007). Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company.

CCSSO’s Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (2011) InTASC model core teaching standards: A resource for state dialogue. Washington, DC: Council of Chief State School Officers.

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education. 3(2), 106-116.

Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). But that’s just good teaching! The case for culturally relevant pedagogy. Theory into Practice, 43(4), 159-165.

Martin, W. R., Majesky, J. & Eckler, K. (2003). Handbook for teaching reflectively in
grades K-12. 
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

National Research Council (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences.

Schon, D. (1983). The reflective practitioner. New York, NY: Basic Books.

Scriven, M. & Paul, R. (1987). Critical thinking as defined by the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking. Retrieved July 24, 2012 from

Skerrett, A. (2011). Wide open to rap, tagging, and real life: Preparing teachers for multiliteracies pedagogy. Pedagogies, 6(3), 185-199.

Spindler, G. D. (1987). Education and cultural process: Anthropological approaches. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.

Virginia State Board of Education (2011). Guidelines for uniform performance standards and evaluation criteria for teachers, administrators and superintendents. Department of Division of Teacher Education and Licensure: Richmond. VA.

Virginia State Board of Education (2011). Licensure regulations for school personnel. Virginia Department of Education: Division of Teacher Education and Licensure: Richmond, VA.

Wilson, S., Floden, R., & Ferrini­-Mundy, J. (2001). Teacher preparation research: Current knowledge, gaps and recommendations. Center for the Study of Teaching Policy. Retrieved July 24, 2012, from