The College of Education at the University of Kentucky has adopted the model of “Research and Reflection for Learning and Leadership” as the conceptual framework for its professional education programs. The characteristics of reflection, learning and leading are derived from research and practice as espoused by historical and contemporary leaders in education.
The theme reflects and guides how we approach preparation of professional educators within the context of a research extensive, land grant university.
Research is a valued activity and tool within UK’s educator preparation programs. Faculty and candidates generate scientific research using a wide range of research methodologies and contribute to the professional literature. Programs use practitioner inquiry and data-based instructional models in applied settings to enhance student learning and professional development. Research findings from the entire field of education inform design of courses, selection of interventions, and features of professional education programs.
Reflection is a long-standing aspect of UK’s educator preparation programs and is, in our view, a hallmark of professional practice. Reflective assessment of performance, outcomes, and approaches to problems is a dynamic process appropriate for faculty, experienced educators, and candidates in initial stages of their careers. Candidates are expected to complete numerous reflective activities as they work to meet standards; the goal is to prepare educators who are capable of analysis and problem-solving that will result in improving educational practices and outcomes.
Learning is included as a component within our conceptual framework to underscore our commitment to the many facets of learning and to highlight the ways in which our programs conceptualize, promote, and accomplish learning. As a unit, we do not share a single theoretical view of learning. Faculty and candidates conceptualize learning using a wide range of perspectives including behavioral, constructivist, and social. We believe that our diversity of thought enriches and strengthens our unit. The reference to learning in our conceptual framework encompasses learning among all those who participate in our educator preparation programs and those who are affected by the educational efforts of our faculty and candidates.
Leading is an expectation that faculty hold for ourselves and an outcome that we promote among our candidates. As members of the educational community at Kentucky’s flagship university, we believe it is our obligation and privilege to provide leadership in educational policies and practices across levels and dimensions of universities, schools, and agencies. We believe that as leaders and followers work together to improve student learning among diverse student populations, we can obtain positive results that improve education in Kentucky and beyond.
The four elements of our conceptual framework are synergistic and mutually supportive of our work. Taken as a whole, research, reflection, learning, and leading provide a strong conceptual basis and functional framework for the preparation of educators at the University of Kentucky.