Union University
Union University School of Education
Miranda Lindsey student teaches at Medina Elementary.

Conceptual Framework

Candidate Proficiencies Aligned with Professional and State Standards

The candidates in the Teacher Education Program must complete the requirements as prescribed in the Undergraduate Catalogue and Teacher Education Program Handbook. The knowledge gained in the General Education Core provides them with a liberal arts education upon which the remainder of their college course work in the major and Professional Education is built. The courses in the General Education Core also prepare candidates for the Praxis I, the entrance exam for the Teacher Education Program, if they do not already have the minimum ACT or SAT score. ENG 111 and 112, Written Composition I and II, prepare candidates for the writing section; literature, history, fine arts, and Christian studies courses prepare candidates for the Reading section; the math course prepares them for the math section. The oral communication requirement in the General Education Core helps candidates in the interview for admission to the Teacher Education Program.

A teacher student dynamic of sensitivity , reflection and faith

The Tennessee State Department of Education requires the acquisition of certain General Education knowledge and skills for initial teacher licensure in addition to Professional Education and endorsement-specific knowledge and skills. These knowledge and skills and the goals of the Teacher Education Program indicate the outcomes of the educational experience and the integration of sensitivity, reflection, and faith in the program graduates. The process for meeting those outcomes involves the gradual integration and assessment of sensitivity, reflection, and faith as candidates engage in course work and field experiences.

Candidates in the Teacher Education Program complete an observation field experience early in their college career to introduce them to teaching in various settings and under different conditions. This, along with at least two other practicum experiences and a full semester of enhanced student teaching, helps them to be better prepared for the full classroom experience upon graduation.

"I had such a strong foundation after graduating from the [TEP] program that I felt ready to take on my first year of teaching. The lessons I learned were practical life lessons that I carry with me to this day."
-Katie Ward

In the elementary and early childhood instructional design courses and secondary methods courses, candidates learn strategies that allow them to be sensitive to the individual needs of their students, being particularly aware of cultural and learning differences. Through micro-teaching in coursework and directed teaching in field experiences, the candidates have an opportunity to reflect upon their teaching by interacting with competent and caring faculty, university supervisors, and cooperating teachers. The candidates are evaluated throughout the field experiences to strengthen weaknesses and recognize strengths. The tools used to evaluate the candidates clearly show coherence with the conceptual framework and the development of sensitivity, reflection, and faith as they progress through the program. Faith is an integral part of the Union experience as evidenced in the Mission, Guiding Principles, and Goals of the University and of the Mission and Goals of the Teacher Education Program. This faith is modeled by faculty members who recognize that each person is uniquely created by God with a purpose in life. That purpose includes becoming all that he/she was created to become through learning the ways and means of doing so. Faith is also a central component of the development of candidates' worldview. At Union University, that worldview focuses on Jesus Christ but allows all candidates, regardless of personal beliefs, to develop their own philosophies of education in a multicultural society. In one of the student teacher seminars, "Integration of Faith and Learning," and in class discussions, candidates are taught ways to demonstrate their faith in the classroom within the legal constraints of the law.

Courses in general education, professional and pedagogical, and integrative studies complement one another and are consistent with the conceptual framework. Under the direction of the Executive Dean of the College of Education and Human Studies and the Assistant Dean for Teacher Education and Accreditation, courses are examined to assure compliance with licensure programs of the state of Tennessee and the mission statement of the Teacher Education Program. In addition, the Teacher Education Committee is available to review courses and their academic support of the unit’s conceptual framework and unit mission. The conceptual framework is continuously evaluated to ensure coherence, compatibility, and application to the preparation of quality teachers.

Candidates increase their sensitivity to the field of education and begin the process of reflection on it and how faith and learning are intricately woven in their first education course, EDU 150, Foundations of American Education. A twenty-hour field experience in this course begins the journey for candidates entering the Teacher Education Program. As candidates participate in field experiences they gain valuable insight from which to expand their understanding of education and how to best work with others. Various courses offer field experiences that enhance professional growth.

The final field experience, enhanced student teaching, extends for an entire semester with weekly seminars for additional reflection to heighten the educational experience.

The unit has an evaluation plan that provides regular and systematic review of the programs and of students. Below is a listing of assessment tools and procedures used by the unit.

  • Formative assessment procedures are included in each professional education course related to the conceptual framework.
  • All field experiences require final evaluations completed by the cooperating teacher, the university supervisor and the candidate. Each evaluation states the conceptual framework and gives the evaluator an opportunity to synthesize and respond to the performance of the candidate through the eyes of the framework structure.
  • Each student teacher participates in an exit interview with the university supervisor near the end of the student teaching experience. During the interview student teachers reflect upon their own demonstration of sensitivity, reflection and faith during the student teaching semester while receiving evaluative information from the university supervisor and cooperating teacher. The student’s growth and development, with emphasis in the areas of sensitivity, reflection, and faith, contribute to the final evaluation of the student teacher by the university supervisor and cooperating teachers. A professional portfolio and micro-lesson video is required during the semester and is reviewed by both the student teacher and university supervisor. Evaluation of the micro-teaching video follows the lesson format adopted by the Tennessee State Department of Education that is used for formal evaluations of student teacher instruction.