The Teacher Education Program (TEP) of Inter American University of Puerto Rico (IAUPR) constitutes an answer to the needs and aspirations of a society in constant change and to the requirements of the Certification of Teachers Regulations of the Puerto Rico Department of Education. For this, it takes as it basis the Vision, the Mission and the Goals of IAUPR, the University’s conception of an educated person, the Professional Standards of Teachers adopted by the Puerto Rico Department of Education, and the “Standards of Accreditation” of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
Theoretical and Methodological Frame of the TEP.
The Teacher Education Program has a psycho philosophical foundation of a behaviorist, constructivist and humanist character. This approach can be considered as an eclectic conceptual model, which allows the Program to integrate, in an organized way, principles of the three theoretical frames in its curricular designs and in its pedagogical practice leading to the formation of the future teacher. This frame of theoretical and methodological reference will serve as a guide of the TEP for decision making and actions related to its development and its curricular revision and assessment processes, in harmony with the highest standards of quality and educational excellence.
It could be indicated, that although the TEP is based on an eclectic conceptual paradigm, it gives more emphasis to the constructivist and humanist theoretical perspectives. Under the constructivist perspective the aspiring teacher is considered as an active and totally reflective person in his professional formation process. On the other hand, the humanist approach orients the educational process of the future teacher towards his integral development as a being human, in such a way, that he contributes his competencies of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values to improve the quality of life of his students and society.
It is important to mention that during the last half of the last century, and during the part of the current century that has past, education in Puerto Rico has been framed, generally, in two learning theories: the behavioral theory and the cognitive theory. In the last decades the idea of a constructivist approach in learning and in the curriculum has acquired particular interest among educators. The psychological frame of constructivism is delimited by cognitive theories of learning, and within the curriculum of the TEP, it is founded on a humanist basis of education.
From the perspective of the philosophy and psychology of education, constructivism presents a coherent explanation of how a person learns by means of an active process of construction of knowledge through significant experiences, whereas the humanist vision in the curriculum promotes the professional and social commitment of the future teacher to attend to the educational needs and interests of the diverse student populations, with sensitivity. This implies that all teacher education programs must provide a wide variety of educational experiences for the academic formation of the aspiring teachers, directed toward the maximum development of a pedagogical culture. These practical and formative educational experiences will permit the future teacher to establish a connection between the theoretical knowledge and the pedagogical practice, in a pertinent context of human formation.
In order to give direction to its vision, mission and declaration of goals statements, the TEP uses the professional standards of teachers established by the Puerto Rico Department of Education and by the CAEP.
These standards have as their main purpose to delineate the professional characteristics that the teacher must have to achieve that the students develop, in an integral way, their capacities and potentialities to the maximum in all dimensions as human beings, within a context of a culture of peace and acceptance of diversity. In addition, these standards establish the indicators of the qualities that the teachers must have to facilitate their students’ learning of knowledge, skills and attitudes. It is important to indicate that the standards also serve the teacher as parameters for him to reflect on his continuous professional development and how this must be in harmony with the learning needs of his students.
In synthesis, the task of educational formation is a complex one and is a great social responsibility. In order to assume this responsibility, the TEP has designed a curriculum focused on how to prepare the teachers that society needs and demands, as an effective means to improve its quality of life.