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Our Conceptual Framework What Do We Believe?. The Center for Education School of Human Service Professions Widener University. Who Are We?. Programs are offered at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.

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our conceptual framework what do we believe

Our Conceptual Framework What Do We Believe?

The Center for Education

School of Human Service Professions

Widener University

who are we
Who Are We?

Programs are offered at undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels.

Undergraduate students pursue baccalaureate degrees and initial instructional certification in elementary education, early childhood education, and special education.

Students who major in the humanities, social sciences and sciences earn initial instructional certification in secondary education.

The Center for Education offers the Master of Education Degree in 22 areas of study.

Graduate degree programs may be combined with programs leading to initial licensure, specialist certificates and certificates for other school personnel.

The Doctor of Education degree is offered in 4 areas of study: higher education, human sexuality, reading/language arts, and school administration.

The doctorate in school administration can be combined with the Letter of Eligibility as superintendent or assistant superintendent in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

teaching and learning in the field
Teaching and Learning in the Field

Faculty and students engage in teacher training in a variety of field settings, including two professional development schools and a university affiliated charter school.

The professional development schools include the Lakeview Elementary School and the Ridley Middle School: both in the Ridley School District, which borders the campus of Widener University.

In addition, in AY 2006, Widener University received authorization to begin the Widener Partnership Charter School.

Both the professional development schools and the charter school are settings where collaboration among students, faculty and seasoned teachers, administrators, and supportive educational specialists provide rich opportunities for field experiences and community engagement.

learning and leading from the field
Learning and Leading From the Field

The Center for Education subscribes to key Widener University values.

  • Widener reaches out to the metropolitan area which it serves, so that it can connect its programs, it faculty and its students to society.
  • Widener provides a unique combination of liberal arts and professional education.
  • Widener challenges learners and enriches learning through civic engagement, leadership, scholarship, and cultural diversity.
  • Widener offers dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention and experimental learning.
connecting to the mission of widener university
Connecting to the Mission of Widener University

The University Mission

  • As a leading metropolitan university, we achieve our mission by creating a learning environment where curricula are connected to societal issues through civic engagement.
  • We lead by providing a unique combination of liberal arts and professional education in a challenging, scholarly, and culturally diverse academic community.
  • We engage our students through dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, and experiential learning.
  • We inspire our students to be citizens of character who demonstrate professional and civic leadership.
  • We contribute to the vitality and well-being of the communities we serve.
center for education mission
Center for Education Mission

To create and sustain communities of informed and critically reflective practitioners who function in a variety of institutions at all levels of the educational enterprise. Unit faculty encourage interactive learning experiences among faculty and students that promote the development and application of higher order thinking skills in the university and in the field.

center for education vision
Center for Education Vision

The vision of the Center is to maintain a leadership role and to build on the Center for Education’s strong academic and professional reputation for preparing leaders in education at the initial and advanced levels. Faculty are dedicated to insuring that graduates are competent and successful in PK-12, higher education, clinical and community settings.

center for education philosophy
Center for Education Philosophy

Professionalism is the overarching value that unifies all that we do. It is both the context and the rationale for the knowledge, skills and dispositions that define our programs of study. It is the basis for the proficiencies that represent how we wish our effectiveness to be assessed.


A tangible demonstration of beliefs that promote a virtuous course of action, in the intended meaning of educational philosophers: that which is desired because of its inherent goodness. Thus, students are expected to

  • Accept the essential value of diversity
  • Connect content with practice
  • Demonstrate codes of conduct appropriate to respective disciplines
  • Develop a deep commitment to lifelong learning
  • Internalize the values of a profession
  • Learn from the field through collaboration and engagement
  • Connect pedagogical content and societal problems
four values
Four Values

Professionalism is reinforced by our willingness to accept and address 4 additional values:

  • Academic excellence
  • Collaboration
  • Diversity
  • Lifelong Learning
academic excellence
Academic Excellence

The academic excellence of Widener candidates can be identified by their broad understanding of critical concepts and processes in the arts and sciences, as well their competency in reading, writing, and mathematics skills. They also have knowledge of the underlying historical, social, and philosophical foundations in their field. Project-based learning, cooperative learning, mentoring, electronic communication, and field experiences provide social contexts for the application of discipline-specific content.


Through collaboration, students learn to take the perspective of their respective disciplines and acquire the ability to create and sustain a personal and professional identity that has parity with colleagues and peers. Collaboration makes it possible to internalize the values of a profession and act within the framework of a chosen professional identity and its values. Extensive experience in the field provides rich opportunities for collaboration, as do service-learning opportunities, participation in professional organizations, and community events.


Faculty in the Center for Education use examples from a variety of cultures and groups to illustrate key concepts, principles, generalizations and themes in their subject area or discipline. Students participate in service learning projects in both arts and sciences and professional education courses that bring them into school and community settings where they further their understanding, acceptance and ability to address the uniqueness of individuals.

lifelong learning
Lifelong Learning

Graduate and undergraduate students understand that their learning is a continuous and lifelong process. Faculty continually challenge them to reflect on their learning and evaluate their goals and actions. Lifelong learning enables students to develop a deep commitment to learning, which they model in their relationships with students and peers. Through lifelong learning, educators retain their intellectual and professional vitality. They become part of broader learning communities that contribute to education in the region and in other parts of the world.

two commitments
Two Commitments

The Center for Education has also made two additional commitments: continued support of best practices and educational technology.

These priorities reinforce the values of field-based teaching and learning, collaboration, and professional development.

outcomes of teaching and learning
Outcomes of Teaching and Learning

Reinforcing the values of professionalism, academic excellence, collaboration, diversity, and lifelong learning is not enough.

These values must be realized in the practices of students and faculty. These values need to be demonstrated in tangible ways.

Therefore, it is necessary to link values to proficiencies.

What are the proficiencies that link professionalism and its core values to professional practice at Widener University?
academic excellence18
Academic Excellence

Discipline-based knowledge, as well as basic skills, foundations of education, and evidence-based practices

Mastery of the theoretic and empirical knowledge that informs teaching and professional practice

Understanding the significance of leadership in our respective disciplines


Collaborating in the classroom and in the field

Demonstrating appropriate codes of conduct of our respective disciplines

Demonstratingactive engagement with students, colleagues and peers

Demonstrating proficiency as problem solvers in our respective work environments

Engaging in service and problem solving in our communities

Using coursework and field experiences to demonstrate our professionalism


Appreciating and addressing the uniqueness of individuals and groups

lifelong learning21
Lifelong Learning

Attaining positions of leadership in schools, higher education, clinical and other professional settings

Establishing and maintaining professional networks

Learning from professional dialog and interaction among students, faculty, colleagues and the community

Understanding that teaching and learning is a process that continues throughout adulthood

who informs our perspective on teaching and learning
Who informs our perspective on teaching and learning?
  • Theorists who argue that knowledge is discovered through interpersonal processes
  • Who encourage strategies that invite learners to construct meaning
  • Who also view the acquisition of knowledge as a collective and interactive enterprise
jerome bruner
Jerome Bruner

When problems are peopled, they have social content. Then learners must work with information about beliefs, values and points of view. This is learning that refers to empirical reality, and is concerned with how one ought to act in the world. Through collaboration, field experiences and civic engagement, one learns how to put a human face educational problems that otherwise would be only hypothetical puzzles.

john dewey
John Dewey

The outcomes of learning are not givens. Rather they are dynamic and are situated in the context of learning. Outcomes are dependent on social realities for their value. They are acquired through experimentation. Learners learn because their social settings require them to experiment with increasingly complex constructions of their social worlds, which in turn help them to balance feedback from varied and numerous sources. Learning is a conversation, which prompts experimentation and the validation of intellectual discovery.

donald schon
Donald Schon

Schon’s earliest work focused on reflection-in-action: a concept that describes how expertise evolves and how it is sharpened by rigorous self-evaluation and an experimental attitude toward problem solving. Reflection-in-action is a progressive process and continues into adulthood; it defines lifelong learning developmentally. Innovation is at the core of effective learning; it is not centered where familiar norms are found and applied.

lev vygotsky
Lev Vygotsky

The ideal learning environment is found in settings where learners of any age are encouraged to discover the value of information that is presented to them, and where they are able to find meaningful patterns and to structure information creatively. Culture mediates these parallel processes of identification and organization, causing the knowledge gained from experience to be internalized, and to take form as symbols, language, and patterns of communication.

if you have questions
If you have questions…


Michael W. Ledoux, Ed.D.

Associate Dean and


Center for Education


Antonia D’Onofrio, Ph.D.

NCATE Coordinator

Center for Education