Educational Foundations 607

EDEF 607: Foundations of Education

Credit Hours: (3)

An understanding of the historical, philosophical, and sociological foundations underlying the role, development and organization of public education in the United States is provided in this core course for all Masters in Education concentrations (and foundations course for graduate licensure candidates).  Students will examine selected key issues and debates in education (e.g. purposes/philosophies of education at present and over time; legal status and rights of teachers and students; culture and organization of schools; interactions between assessment, instruction, and student progress performance; school finance; various educational reform efforts).  The course promotes students' ability to interpret and critique the impact of legal, political, economic, and societal factors on schooling and on teaching, with am emphasis upon how these issues involve or impact them in their careers as educators.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Content:  The course will answer the following questions:

A.    What is the relationship between schooling and the economy, the state, and local communities?

        i.    how do the forces within a school system and the community environment affect the educational process?

        ii.    how does cultural, political and economic/finance changes affect change in educational systems

        iii.    What are the purposes of education in a democratic and capitalist society?

B.    What are the social, cultural, and political aspects of the production and transmission of knowledge?

        i.    What is knowledge?  How is it attained? (constructed? transmitted?)

        ii.    What is critical pedagogy?

C.    What are key approaches to school reform and transformation?

        i.    What end goals/purposes of education are served most by these reforms?

        ii.    What populations are best served/most benefited i the implementation of these reforms? (special emphasis on examination of social class and race/ethnicity)

D.    What relationships exist between assessment and instruction?

        i.    What approaches to assessment best monitor student progress on the attainment of essential skills?

        ii.    How does one construct and interpret valid assessments?

        iii.    How does one analyze assessment data to make decisions about how to improve instruction and student performance?

        iv.    How (and should) student performance measures be used in grading practices?

        v.    How do standards and standardized-test based environments influence instruction?

E.    What is the structure and function of education in modern society (school as an organization/culture)?

        i.    Are there alternative ways of conceiving school structure and organization?  (Some possible alternatives to explore include):

            1.    Charters

            2.    Vouchers

            3.    Homeschools

            4.    Free schools

F.    What are the historical, philosophical and sociological events and theories which have influenced the development of current trends in educational systems?

            i.    American education history

            ii.    Philosophies of education

G.    What is the role of the teacher in American education?

            i.    Characteristics and dispositions of professional educators

            ii.    Socialization of youth

            iii.    Agent of change vs. "clerk of the empire"

            iv.    Legal status (including federal and state laws and regulations).


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

A variety of instructional methods will be used, which may include lecture, whole class discussion, small group work, research, class presentations, guest speakers, university-wide events, videos, case studies, email, the internet, WebCT, and/or class blogs and threaded discussions


Goals and Objectives of the Course

(Goals, objectives, and assignments in this class address NCATE Standard 1g- professional dispositions, and 1c- Professional and pedagogical knowledge).  The codes included below refer to: Council for Exceptional Children (CEC); National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium Standards (ISLLC): Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI): National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE); American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD): National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM); National Middle Schools Association (NMSA): National Science Teachers Association (NSTA): National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS); Virginia Department of Education Licensure Regulations (VA DOE); Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC); Council for the Social Foundations of Education (CSFE).

1.    A core purpose of EDEF 607 is to help foster exceptional writing and thinking skills.  The process of thinking is clarified and strengthened through the practice of writing and the act of discussion; therefore, a basic requirement of this course is that every student demonstrates a high level of competence in use of English language arts (through oral and written communication).  (AECI 2.1, NCTE 3)

2.    Gain knowledge of intersections between students' diverse environments (home, school, cultural community-both local and global) and learning (AECI 3.1 and 3.2; NAEYC 1; NMSA Standard 6; AAHPERD 2.2 and 3.1; CEC Standard 5; ISLLC Standards 2, 4, 5, and 6; NCSS Pedgagocial Standards 2 and 6; CSFE principle #1 and #5).

3.    Develop an understanding of multiple forms of assessment (formal and informal, formative and summative, standardized/traditional and alternative/authentic) and their various impacts (both positive and negative) on instruction, student learning, and student and teacher commitment to education (AECI 4.0; NAEYC 3; NMSA Standard 3 and Standard 5; AAHPERD Standard 7.1, 7.2, 7.3; CEC Standard 8; ISLLC Standard 2; VA DOE Licensure Regulations-foundations; NCSS Pedagogical Standard 7; CSFE principle #6).

4.    Demonstrate an attitude of scholarly, critical questioning toward contemporary education issues (particularly education reform suggestions).  Consider multiple perspectives of issues, contemplate the effect of professional decisions and actions on various populations and in light of the nature of a democratic and pluralistic global society.  Show fledging steps toward becoming informed advocates for sound educational practices and policies.  (AECI 5.1; NAEYC 5; NMSA Standard 7; AAHPERD Standard 8.2; CEC Standard 9; ISLLC Standards 2 and 6; VA DOE Licensure Regulations-foundations; NCSS Pedagogical Standard 8; CSFE Standard 1 and principle #1 and #4).

5.    Become knowledgeable about historical and contemporary models and organizations of schooling and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of these.  Explore how school as an organization is integrally tied to the community/culture/society context as well as to political and economic structures.  Gain knowledge about the role of the teacher (including professional characteristics and dispositions) and the student in this organization (e.g. legal status under both federal and state laws and regulations) (NMSA Standard 2 and 6; NSTA Professional Development Standard D; CEC Standard 1; ISLLC Standards 3, 5 and 6; VA DOE Licensure Regulations-foundations; CSFE principles #1-4).

6.    Become knowledgeable and understanding of learning goals in a pluralistic society and the philosophies of education that support each (ISLLC Standards 1 and 5; CSFE Standard 1 and principles #1-4).


Assessment Measures

1.    Professionally-written responses to readings (personal journal, yet following APA style/format and adhering to standard written English conventions).

2.    Class participation in discussions and small group activities.

3.    Summative course paper (following APA style/format and adhering to standard written English conventions).

4.    Evaluative research project on a contemporary educational issue/reform which culminates in a professional lesson/presentation to facilitate the class' understanding of the subject.


Other Course Information



Review and Approval
10-15-08    Reviewed and modified        Kristan Morrison