Conceptual Framework – Theory and Research for Effective Practices and Commitment (TREC)

The College of Education and Technology views itself and its various constituents as a community of learners, involved in an ongoing journey of investigation. This vision translates into a strong commitment to the preparation of lifelong learners who are involved in professional growth, learning and development. The conceptual framework is based on the foundation of a long-term collaboration, referred to as TREC. TREC represents teacher preparation programs at both the initial and advanced levels that focus on Theory and Research for Effective Practices and Commitment. This journey is unique; while it leads toward a common destination, much of its value lies in the stops that learners make along the way. This conceptual framework is the basis for assessing the desirability of certain broad qualities and characteristics of candidates in the various programs and the specific performance expectations for each degree or emphasis.

As reflected in the TREC conceptual framework, the college believes that the work of professional in their respective disciplines and their preparation should be based on a foundation of theory and research leading to effective practices. To clearly understand this shared vision, it is helpful to look at each concept of TREC in more detail: theory, research, effective practices and commitment.

The conceptual framework includes theoretical tenets developed by faculty, professional organizations, and accrediting bodies that define effective ways of teaching, learning and structuring and managing educational and professional settings. This approach provides students with knowledge and proficiencies related to foundations, content, processes, strategies, technologies, diversity and global perspectives, and professionalism.

Graduates gain an awareness of the role of research in developing and validating of theories, investigating current problems and challenges, and implementing these findings in day-to-day problem-solving. Research is a central element of the CET's programs; students are guided to utilize the findings and methods of research in their work. Throughout the journey, students reflect on what they have learned and experienced. They are continuously reconstructing their knowledge in light of new investigations and discoveries. 

Complementing their investigations of theory and research, students see effective practices modeled by the University faculty and professional counterparts in their University classes and classroom observations. These effective practices are shaped by theory and research, measured by state and national standards, and guided by knowledge and skills of the academic community during the preparation of graduates. The college's ultimate gauge of its success is found in the graduates' ability to interpret and transfer theory and research to effective practices in authentic settings such as practica, internships, clinical settings and field experiences.

The fourth leg of the TREC is commitment, a critical factor to the professional workforce. Commitment reflects the values of tolerance, persistence, compassion, trust and collegiality. Graduates' allegiances to these values guide their response to issues of diversity, interactions with family and community, the demands of professional leadership, and professional and collegial relationships. Commitment is a learned behavior; faculty members model this behavior and are responsible for creating an environment that encourages students' commitment to their fields.

Progress along the TREC is measured by various benchmarks from classroom-based to college-wide assessment. Assessments identified in each course mark the benchmarks of the journey. The college's curriculum, its field experiences/internships, and the assessments throughout the program of study have been created to support the conceptual elements of the TREC theme. The conceptual framework is included in all syllabi and at the beginning of each semester; faculty members in the unit discuss TREC and its implications. In a very meaningful sense, TREC helps provide coherence in the CET's mission, curriculum, field experiences and student assessments.