Conceptual Framework

Central Methodist University Mission

Central Methodist University prepares students to make a difference in the world by emphasizing

  • Academic and professional excellence
  • Ethical leadership
  • Social responsibility

Central Methodist University Creed

The Central Methodist University community believes in:

  • Seeking knowledge, truth, and wisdom;
  • Valuing freedom, honesty, civility, and diversity;
  • Living lives of service and leadership; and
  • Taking responsibility for ourselves and the communities in which we live.

Education Division Mission Statement

Central Methodist University commits itself to preparing teachers who create learner-centered communities that provide for the development of mind and spirit for all learners through leadership and service within a community of practice.

Education Division Goals and Purposes

The Division of Professional Education closely aligns its goals and purposes with the goals expressed in the mission statement of Central Methodist University. The Division believes that it is also our mission to prepare students to make a difference in the world. Teachers touch the lives of their students in many different ways. Teacher education must take into account the impact that teachers have on individual students and also on local, state, national and global communities. For this reason we are committed to promoting both the mission and creed of Central Methodist University. The Division aligns their professional commitments, dispositions, and values with the mission of the University in the following manner:

  • Academic and professional excellence: All domains needed in the teaching profession are addressed through coursework as well as practicum experiences.
  • Ethical leadership: Good teaching involves more than delivery of information. There are dispositions that good teachers must have if they are to positively impact the lives of their students. We believe that our educator preparation program should help to develop these dispositions in pre-service teachers.
  • Social responsibility: Teachers play an important role in both modeling citizenship to and developing citizenship in the students they teach. Through presentation of content and through interaction with the faculty, these skills are developed in our students.
  • Seeking knowledge, truth, and wisdom: Development of knowledge is, of course, a key
    part of teacher education, but we feel that teaching and modeling critical thinking are also an important part of teacher education. Our program is designed to insure that all of the preservice teachers who graduate have the skills to operate as true professionals. To do this, they must learn to evaluate information that is presented to them and develop the ability to make informed decisions.
  • Valuing freedom, honesty, civility, and diversity: Teaching is a profession that requires teachers to interact with the entire spectrum of the communities where they work. Dealing effectively with a diverse population is a fundamental aspect of teaching. Pre-service teachers need to know how to understand and value that diversity and know how to teach all students, regardless of their backgrounds.
  • Living lives of service and leadership: We demonstrate for our students, through our own
    teaching and through class work and practicum experiences, that teaching is a service profession with its own unique responsibilities. Teachers have to provide support for students; teachers have to adapt methods and materials to the needs of their students; teachers have to take into account the emotional needs of their students. Teachers, as professionals, also have to take leadership roles. They need to maintain association in professional organizations and participate in professional development.
  • Taking responsibility for ourselves and the communities in which we live: Our program encourages students to take responsibility for themselves and their communities. This challenge begins as freshmen with a service project connected to their field and continues with coursework in which they have to read, write, think, and apply the information they are learning.


Creating Learner-Centered Communities – The emergence of constructivism marked a unifying theory toward which the educational theorists of the twentieth and twenty-first century had worked (Piaget, 1952; Dewey, 1966; Bruner, 1961, 2004; Vygotsky, 1978). The Central Methodist University Division of Professional Education prides itself in developing teachers who are prepared to work in and teach the skills necessary for success in the twenty-first century. While researchers involved in the study of the brain caution against overgeneralization, clearly the brain continually scans the world to make sense of the constant bombardment of stimuli (Wolfe, 2001). Thus, learning occurs as the brain fits or adds information to existing knowledge and experiences. The teacher using the constructivist approach explores with the students the connections between prior knowledge/experience and new knowledge, and then helps students develop the skills and knowledge that will enable achievement of the learning objectives. Such exploration enables learners to hook the unfamiliar onto something familiar. Based on the research of cognitive psychologist teachers model and develop techniques and active learning strategies such as cooperative learning, discovery learning, problem-based education (Slavin, 1990; Good & Brophy, 2007; Problem based initiative, 2008; Michael, 2006; Prince & Felder, 2006).

Magnifying Mind and Spirit – Experts in any field have a holistic vision of that field, but they must also have a good understanding of the fundamentals of the discipline. The faculty at CMU delivers instruction designed to teach fundamentals without losing sight of the larger whole of the individual. This includes a commitment to acquire and use professional knowledge. As a faculty committed to an ever-deepening understanding of what it means to construct meaning, we know that pre-service teachers must understand how to teach content in ways that address the whole learner. Pre-service teachers, throughout the undergraduate experience, must gain information and skills, but they must also understand how to express in a variety of ways what they know for themselves and the learners with whom they will work. In addition, ethical teaching requires that teachers value both learning and learners themselves. Plato tells us that education must contain a moral component. He believed that each person had a capacity in his or her “soul” to be ethical and that education was the means to turn the soul from darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge and justice. The values, commitments and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development, as well as the educator’s own professional growth, are fostered throughout the program. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, diversity, equity, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice (NCATE, 2007).

Uniting through Leadership and Service – Central Methodist University professional education division conducts learning within communities of practice. These communities focus on people where the social structure within the community enables the members to learn with and from each other (Wenger, 2008). Effective teachers know what and how to teach. Perhaps as important, they know why they teach. Teaching is an act of both service and leadership. Teaching involves knowledge, but teachers also must have the disposition to serve the best interest of the learners. Faculty serve as experts modeling teaching and learning for the novices in their classrooms. There is a continual exchange of understanding as the novice and expert work together in the Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978). Only as novices become knowledgeable about subject area content, pedagogy, and the nature of learners and reflect on that knowledge can they begin to facilitate effective learning for students.

Knowledge Base

The faculty of Central Methodist University looks to five primary resources to inform their practice: (1) No Child Left Behind; (2) Missouri’s Show-Me Standards and Curriculum Frameworks and the specifications of the tests in the Missouri Assessment Program (MAP); (3) Missouri’s Grade and Course Level Expectations; (4) the standards developed by all the national content organizations; and (5) the findings of researchers.

The research base that supports all of our pedagogy in the CMU Division of Professional Education is
comprehensive, current, theoretically sound, and confirmed through classroom application. As preparers of pre-service teachers, professors in our Division of Professional Education are concerned not only about what our pre-service teachers need to know in the area of content but also best methods for delivering the content. Professors work diligently not only to teach content but also to model current research based pedagogy. In other words, professors not only talk the talk but walk the walk. Researchers have identified this as one of the most important components of an education curriculum to produce teachers prepared to teach in the twenty-first century (Halpern & Hakel, 2002; Renzulli, 2008; Reimers, 2008; Wagner, 2008).

Students enrolled in the education program at Central Methodist University not only enroll in a program but also become members of a Community of Practice, “the community that acts as a living curriculum for the apprentice” (Wenger, p.4). These communities of practice are continually negotiated by the participants (the pre-service teachers, professors, field personnel, and children) as they learn to interact together and engage in socially relevant work.

Research designed to discover the most effective teaching methods has been on-going for the past 60 years (National Training Laboratories, 2008). Research supports a move from a traditional “teacher centered” transmission model of teaching to a “student centered” constructivist model of teaching. The two models are described in this way by Van der Vleute, Domans & Scherpbier (2000):

In traditional curricula the emphasis is on knowledge transfer from teacher to student and is based on a conception where knowledge is considered as ‘absolute’, ‘based on facts’ and being ‘objective’ (Williams, 1992). Knowledge in this conception is the sum of information to which the student has been exposed. Learning is a matter of transfer of ‘truths’ on what has been
scientifically proven. However, …it is clear that this conception is naïve. Current philosophical views on human learning are therefore based on a view in which knowledge is not ‘absolute’, but is constructed by the learner based on previous knowledge and overall views of the world. Learning is a process that results from interactions with the environment. It is the learner who constructs new knowledge and who is at the centre of the educational process. This view is called constructivism (Savery & Dully, 1995). From the evidence on learning this theory seems a better view on education than our intuitive naïve one. (247-248).

Engagement seems to be the key to learning. In summary, “High engagement results in higher achievement, improved self-concept and self-efficacy, and more-favorable attitudes toward school and learning” (Renzulli , 2007, p. 31). Effective teachers engage students, allowing all members of the
community of practice to succeed and feel satisfaction (Pangrazi, 2007; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; National Council of Teachers of English; National Council for the Social Studies; National Science standards, 1996). Researchers have conducted process outcome research and have identified a number of characteristics of teachers who demonstrate gains in achievement through standardized test scores (Good & Brophy, 2007; Marzano, Pickering & Pollock, 2001)). These characteristics support the philosophical approach adopted by the CMU Professional Education Division.

At CMU we base our pedagogy on the research that delineates the “best practices” of teaching so our students see these practices modeled every day in their classes. Research tells us that true reform of
education will not occur without changes in mental models of education of pre-service teachers and these changes occur as students learn content and reflect on their new learning in a variety of settings (Baron, 1981; Gardner, 1985). Application of best practices can help to reduce the achievement gap and improve learning outcomes for all students (Pianta, 2007). Our communities of practice change mental models of education in all participants, better preparing these pre-service teachers to establish communities of practice in their own teaching.

CMU Professional Education Division Standards and Indicators

Creating Learner-Centered Communities (pedagogy)

  1. Candidates demonstrate knowledge of developmental and learning theories.
    1. Accurately identify major theorists in the field and utilizes key ideas to inform practice.
    2. Utilize scientific research to inform practice.
    3. Identify common traits of development and plans lessons accordingly.
  2. Candidates foster positive, educational interactions with and between colleagues, administrators, students and parents in educational settings.
    1. Create democratic learning environments that promote risk taking and problem solving.
    2. Design lessons that actively engage all learners and encourage inquiry and collaboration.
  3. Candidates utilize assessment as a learning tool.
    1. Build assessment strategies into instruction.
    2. Observe and document learning based on instructional objectives, standards, and grade level expectations.
    3. Use assessment data to differentiate instruction.

Magnifying Mind and Spirit (content)

  1. Candidates communicate effectively within and beyond the classroom.
    1. Communicate orally in formal presentations.
    2. Communicate informally with individuals, small groups, and informal settings.
    3. Communicate in writing (reports, essays, letters, e-mails)
  2. Candidates demonstrate the central concepts, tools of inquiry and structures of the discipline(s) within the context of a global society.
    1. Reflect the content of local, state, and national standards in curriculum and teaching methods.
    2. Correctly state and explain key subject matter concepts.
    3. Create learning experiences that make key subject matter meaningful for diverse populations.
    4. Address misconceptions in key subject matter ideas.
    5. Apply real life examples to key subject matter topics.

Uniting through Leadership and Service (reflection)

  1. Candidates demonstrate a commitment to professional ethics and behavior.
    1. Seek out mentors and read in the profession.
    2. Join professional organizations.
    3. Promote ethical and equitable practices.
    4. Demonstrate adaptability in reflecting on self in relation to diverse groups.
  2. Candidates demonstrate the ability and willingness to assume leadership roles within a community of practice.
    1. Contribute to and improve overall quality of the learning community.
    2. Foster relationships in the larger community.
    3. Routinely reflect upon their own strengths and challenges as educational practitioners.

Technology Standards

  1. Candidates integrate appropriate technology to enhance instruction.
  2. Candidates utilize multiple technology applications to differentiate instruction.
  3. Candidates utilize technology to promote higher level thinking skills needed for the twenty-first century.
  4. Candidates promote ethical and legal use of technology.



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