The Conceptual Framework, Models for Learning, reflects a centrality of affirmed principles, beliefs, and practices that guide the professional education Unit’s work with candidates, schools, and communities.

A Model is someone who serves as a standard of excellence worthy of imitation. Our candidates have the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed to become exemplars—ideal models—for learning.

Learning is the process of acquiring knowledge, skills, and dispositions from study, instruction, and experiences. Believing that individuals learn in varied ways, the Unit subscribes to an eclectic approach with an emphasis on cognitive, observational (social), learning style, and human development learning theories.


As members of the professional education Unit, we believe that:

  • Individuals learn in different ways, and cognitive and developmental psychology provide a knowledge base for understanding learning processes;
  • All students can learn;
  • Educators can and should be exemplars or models for learning; we all teach, model for, and learn from each other;
  • Educators as Models for Learning demonstrate responsibility taking, problem solving, creative and critical thinking, and decision making; and
  • Diversity is such an important factor in our immediate society that we must make concerted efforts to ensure that educators understand and respect differences and provide positive, effective learning experiences for diverse groups.
Encompassing Principles:

Four encompassing principles—Problem Solving, Creative and Critical Thinking, (Assessment-based) Decision Making, and Responsibility Taking—support and enhance the theme, Models for Learning. These principles focus on competencies identified as essential for the highly qualified educator and are interrelated, not distinct entities. Pervasive throughout is a commitment to expanding candidates’ sensitivity to diversity, by recognizing individual differences and developing multicultural awareness, and to integrating technology appropriately as an intellectual tool to enhance and augment learning.

Problem Solving involves higher-order thinking skills and is a systematic, thoughtful approach to gathering information in order to make an educated decision or support a change. Numerous examples exist, but the Unit subscribes to a general problem-solving model—define the problem, develop a plan, implement the plan, and evaluate the plan. These steps may range from simple to complex, depending on the problem and context. Inherent to this general model and reflecting the Unit’s commitment to assessment and data-driven decision making is the systematic process to find, use, apply, and evaluate information for specific tasks.

Creative and Critical Thinking, which are interrelated and complementary processes, involve higher-order thinking skills and include both the creation or generation of ideas, processes, experiences or objects and their evaluation. Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain remains the seminal tool in developing objectives, designing curricula, preparing instructional activities, and assessing student learning. However, additional taxonomies and scholarly works, such as Dimensions of Thinking and A Taxonomy of Learning, Teaching and Assessing, inform and enhance the model.

Decision Making is selecting from options or alternatives with the intent of facilitating student learning. Substantial content and pedagogical knowledge are essential for effective decision making. In addition, the Unit emphasizes assessment-based decision making, i.e., decisions should reflect a continuous and ongoing assessment process to gather data about students through a variety of means. Decisions may be proactive, interactive (responding to situational events), or retroactive, where reflection becomes a key component of effective decision making.

Responsibility Taking involves accepting ownership and responsibility for decisions and professional growth and development in order to become a life-long learner—a model for learning. In addition, responsible educators strive to help overcome biases and produce positive behaviors in a diverse society. Responsible educators engage in ethical practices to resolve conflicts or dilemmas, to make decisions, and to interact with others.

Read the Conceptual Framework Document in Adobe PDF format

 View a Conceptual Framework video on YouTube (Part 1)

Conceptual Framework video (Part 2)