Department of Education Conceptual Framework

Rockhurst University, one of the 27 Jesuit institutions of higher education in the United States, provides a distinctive context for the professional preparation of teachers. As a Catholic, Jesuit university, it is rooted in a world view that encounters God in all creation and through all human activity, especially in the search for truth in every discipline, in the desire to learn, and in the call to live justly together. It aims to prepare men and women of “service to others.” The faculty in the School of Education at Rockhurst University are committed to the preparation of teachers in this tradition. 

Teachers must have reflective value commitments and an understanding of how their decisions necessarily promote some values and inhibit others to be of service for and with others. A distinct theme of Jesuit higher education is emphasis on this development of values. According to Father Peter Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1983 to 2008, “Jesuit education is value oriented. There is no aspect of education, not even the so-called hard sciences, which is neutral. All teaching imparts values” (Kolvenbach, 1999, p.14). Jesuit higher education is decidedly explicit about the values it promotes, and the faculty are urged to make these values transparent and pervasive in our work. For example, Jesuit higher education embraces the dignity and worth of each individual, the prizing of the whole person, the promotion of social justice, and intellectual freedom. In the School of Education, we steadfastly embrace as one of our values a respect for diversity in perspectives and independent thought. We are committed to developing reflective practitioners who unite the head, heart, and hand in innovative teaching practice.

The teaching practices we support put students at the center of our work. We believe students are makers of meaning who are engaged in interpretation and who can deal with complex ideas. Therefore, teacher candidates need to know how to help students meet high expectations by knowing their subject matter, principles of curriculum design, instructional strategies, and sound assessment practices. Additionally, it is important to construct multicultural and inclusive curriculum to which students can make meanings. Our teacher candidates need to hold high expectations for, as well as support, the intellectual accomplishments of all their students.

“In contexts where knowledge and skills predominate due to test-driven education policies, teacher preparation programs must incorporate dispositions to ensure holistic teacher education” (Fonseca-Chicana, 2019). The Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC, 2011) uses the following descriptors to encompass the concept of dispositions: adopts, appreciates, believes, is committed, has enthusiasm, persists, realizes, recognizes responds, seeks, is sensitive to, understands, and values. In our teacher preparation program, we monitor and support caring, thoughtful, and productive dispositions for teaching. “Dispositions embrace the why of teachers’ decisions, not just the what. Furthermore, fostering awareness of dispositions helps teachers access the most foundational aspects of who they are, professionally and personally” (Schussler, p. 251). With self-awareness and an openness to continuous professional development, we believe teachers can be their best.

Our mission is to provide undergraduate and graduate programs that prepare and transform knowledgeable, reflective, ethical, and caring education. We strive to develop teachers with an appreciation and value for cultural and academic diversity, collaboration skills, effective oral and written communication skills, self-regulated behavior and initiative, a positive attitude, and social and emotional intelligence to promote personal growth. In addition, our Educator Preparation Program aims to develop teachers who demonstrate the proficiencies outlined in the Missouri Teacher Standards and the InTASC Standards.



Council of Chief State School Officers. (2011, April). Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (InTASC) Model Core Teaching Standards: A Resource for State Dialogue. Washington, DC: Author.

Fonseca-Chacana, J. (2019). Making teacher dispositions explicit: A participatory approach. Teaching and Teacher Education, 77, 266-276.

Kolvenbach, P. (1999).  Themes in Jesuit higher education.  In J.J. Callahan (Ed.), First  Principles: The Jesuit tradition in higher education (pp. 13-17).  Kansas City, MO: J.J. Callahan.

Schussler, D.L. (2006). Defining dispositions: Wading through murky waters. The Teacher Educator, 41(4), 251–268.

Taylor, R. & Wasicsko, M. (2000, November). The dispositions to teach. Paper presented at SRATE, Kentucky.

Villegas, A. (2007). Dispositions in teacher education: A look at social justice. Journal of Teacher Education, 58, 370-380.