Assessing Teacher Candidates’ Dispositions
Evaluación de las aptitudes de los candidatos a maestro
Avaliação das aptidões dos candidatos a professor
Ismael Flores Marti*
*William Paterson University. Full professor who earned a PhD. from The Ohio State University in 2002. His studies were in Psycho-social Aspects in Sport & Exercise Education. His research interests are divided in three areas: (1) Professional development in physical education, (2) assessment/accountability in physical education, and (3) higher education physical education curriculum.
** William Paterson University. Full professor who earned a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biomechanics from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario Canada in 2006. One of his main endeavors over the last few years has been the development of Biomechanics as an Exercise Science discipline and the Human Motion Analysis Laboratory in the Kinesiology Department.
*** William Paterson University. Associate professor who was the PE program director for the Physical Education K-12 Certification Program at William Paterson University (2014-2019). He holds a doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction with an Emphasis in Physical Education from Arizona State University..
His research interests include teacher effectiveness, health-related fitness knowledge instruction, and PETE preparation.
**** William Paterson University. Earned an EdD in Adult, Community
Higher Education from Montana State University.
He is currently a full Professor of Education in the Special Education and Counselling program at William Paterson University (2004-present). One of his research interest is related to the collaborative practice patterns for included students among elementary educators and speech and language pathologists
Reception: 01/22/2018 - Acceptance: 07/04/2019
1st Review: 05/23/2019 - 2nd Review: 06/27/2019
Este trabalho está sob uma licença Creative Commons
Atribuição-NãoComercial-SemDerivações 4.0 Internacional (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
Teaching is multidimensional in the sense that teachers must be effective managers and instructors in any grade level. In addition, their disposition to teach and be good role models must also be present throughout their teaching careers. However, a debate still exists as to whether dispositions should be assessed or not as a measurement of teacher quality. Opponents to this assessment caution that by incorporating dispositions in a curriculum or assessment system, a teacher education program is at risk of supporting a social or political agenda of indoctrination. Borko, Liston and Whitcomb (2007) stated that the debate is over two different claims, those based on values and those based on empirical measurement. The purpose of this article is to elaborate on some of the arguments of the debate and provide a rubric to help professors in higher education develop evaluation tools to cover the dispositions of teachers.
Keywords: Assessment. Dispositions. Teaching. Higher education.
La enseñanza es multidimensional en el sentido de que los maestros(as) deben ser administradores e instructores efectivos en el salón de clases. Adicionalmente, la aptitud para enseñar y ser buenos modelos para estudiantes deben también estar presente a través de la carrera magisterial. Sin embargo, aún existe un debate sobre si las aptitudes deben ser enseñadas y evaluadas como parte de la evaluación del maestro(a). Los oponentes a esta evaluación de aptitudes del maestro(a) exponen que someter al maestro(a) a este tipo de evaluación toma el riesgo de apoyar una agenda social y política de adoctrinamiento. Borko, Liston and Whitcomb (2007) explicaron que el debate es sobre dos posibles afirmaciones, unas basadas en valores y otras basadas en medidas empíricas. El propósito de este artículo es abordar algunos de los componentes del debate y aportar una propuesta para ayudar a los profesores de Educación Superior a desarrollar herramientas de evaluación para abordar las disposiciones de los maestros.
Palabras clave: Evaluación. Aptitudes. Enseñanza. Educación superior.
O ensino é multidimensional no sentido de que os professores devem ser gestores e instrutores eficazes em qualquer nível de educação. Além disso, sua aptidão para ensinar e ser bons modelos também deve também estar presente em todas as suas carreiras docentes. No entanto, ainda existe um debate sobre se as aptidões devem ser avaliadas ou não como uma medida da qualidade do professor. Os opositores a essa avaliação advertem a esta avaliação das aptidões dos professores expõe que submeter o professor a este tipo de avaliação em um currículo ou sistema de avaliação, corre o risco de apoiar uma agenda social ou política de doutrinação. Borko, Liston e Whitcomb (2007) afirmaram que o debate é sobre duas afirmações diferentes, aquelas baseadas em valores e aquelas baseadas em medidas empíricas. O objetivo deste artigo é elaborar alguns dos argumentos do debate e fornecer uma avaliação para ajudar aos professores do ensino superior a desenvolver ferramentas de avaliação para cobrir as disposições dos professores.
Unitermos: Avaliação. Disposições. Ensino. Ensino superior.
Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes, Vol. 24, Núm. 254, Jul. (2019)
Teaching is not limited to the teacher’s content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge. It is a fact that teacher candidates at an undergraduate level must learn early in a teacher certification program. Candidates should be made aware that teaching involves caring about the overall well-being of students and of their intrinsic motivation to spend quality time on the full education of students. It is a deeper understanding that the responsibility to teach goes beyond the technical aspects dictated by the subject matter. In other words, appropriate professional dispositions are expected from any teacher candidate and teachers in general.
Interestingly, researchers are still in an ongoing debate over definitions, applicability, and assessment of the term disposition. One of the main themes circumscribing the debate is the lack of an operational definition of the diverse number of behaviors forming the concept. The purpose of this article is address some of the components of the debate and to provide a rubric to assist faculty in higher education to develop assessment tools to address the dispositions of teachers.
Teaching dispositions are hard to define and have been the subject of numerous philosophical, theoretical, and practical disagreements (Borko, Liston, & Whitcomb, 2007). Some researchers view the term as necessary, and important in the development of teacher candidates’ knowledge and skills. Other researchers view the disposition term as dangerous and lacking an operational definition because it could lead to indoctrination and its assessment will never be objective. For example, Villegas (2007) argues that attending to issues of social justice in teacher education is appropriate and that assessing teacher candidates’ disposition related to social justice is both reasonable and defensible. Sockett (2009, p.297) on the other hand, made comments indicating that “a line has to be drawn between distinguishing social goals for education and the dispositions required of the professional.” Damon (2007) reported that dispositions are critical to teaching. He stated the following:
It is reasonable to assess personal characteristics that are essential to the job of teaching, including character virtues such as honesty, responsibility, and diligence. Assessments of such should be based on definitive behavioral evidence of the presence or lack of the virtue in question (Damon, 2007).
Furthermore, opponents caution that by incorporating dispositions in a curriculum or assessment system, a teacher education program is at risk of supporting a social or political agenda of indoctrination. Basically, the debate is over two different claims, those based on values and those based on empirical measurement (Burant, Chubbuck, Whipp; Borko, Liston and Whitcomb (2007).
The Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) lists standards for higher education academic programs. Standard number two states that “…h-quality clinical practice is central to preparation so that candidates develop the knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions necessary to demonstrate positive impact on all P-12 students’ learning and development.” (CAEP, 2018, p.1). According to Villegas (2007) the term dispositions gained currency on the teacher education discourse about the 1990s, approximately 36 years after NCATE (now CAEP was established). Freeman (2003) explained that “the movement toward standards-based teacher preparation changed the formulation of knowledge, skills and attitudes as goals of teacher education to knowledge, skills and dispositions.” The Interstate New Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) convened a group of state education department leaders, teachers’ union representatives, and teacher educator, forming the INTASC standards writing group. It was in their work where the mentioned formulation was changed from attitudes to dispositions. Diez (2007) explains that the change was applied because the INTASC group recognized the problem of having the knowledge and skills required to be an effective teacher but not using them for good in the classroom. Currently, university programs seeking an accreditation through CAEP are expected to assess standard number 2: Clinical Partnerships and Practice based on observable behaviors in educational settings.
There is an obvious need to further define the concept of disposition. According to Sockett (2009) “the concept of disposition, therefore, has by default become a viable if ambiguous concept that allows institutions flexibility in conceptualizing it as a requirement for accreditation” (p. 293). The author further mentioned that the usage of dispositions might illuminate substantive issues and draw attention to important distinctions. Teacher education programs prepare prospective teachers to learn a set number of skills and to gain the appropriate knowledge required by the profession. Fortunately, we have we have become aware that attitudes, values and beliefs could complement the knowledge and skills demonstrated by a teacher. It is within those attitudes, values and beliefs that we as teachers need to work together to set the “scaffolding that will helps us build a solid construct.”
The theoretical framework informing this view on dispositions is based on Heider’s work (1958) which described the person-situation distinction. The distinction tries to describe how people define their behaviors. Basically, the author argued that people use two forms of explanations. One is related to cause explanations while the other is related to reason explanations. According to Heider (1958), a cause can lead to unintentional behavior while a reason leads to an intention causing an intentional behavior. The author’s theory became problematic since it was not considering environmental conditions with the potential of leading into a wide range of effects. Malle (1999) studied Heider’s theory and described it as follows:
Cause explanations are people's explanations of unintentional behavior that cite the causes that brought about the behavior without an intervening intention. Reason explanations are people's explanations of intentional behavior that cite the agent's reasons (which can be either beliefs or desires) for acting intentionally, and these reasons lead to intentional action via an intention (Malle, 1999, p. 24).
Teacher candidates’ dispositions, dependent on the context, will always have a cause, a reason, or both in their demonstration of a particular disposition. In this article, two sets of rubrics on dispositions are described as the assessment tools used by one teacher certification program. The first set is administered twice; in one course during the students first semester in the program, and then in a different course during the second semester. The rubric seeks to introduce students to the meaning and importance of dispositions. There is evidence supporting the idea of ongoing assessment of dispositions as an effective system to help students develop their dispositions (Diez, 2007). Furthermore, Brewer, Lindquist, and Altemueller (2011) designed an assessment option with the purpose of improving the application process of dispositions. The authors clearly stated that teacher educators must begin the process of assessing dispositions early in a teacher candidate education so that the teacher candidate can continue to grow and develop all skills, including dispositions. The rationale for the selection and implementation of the rubric is included as well as the data collected portraying the students’ understanding of dispositions.
The second rubric on dispositions in our teacher certification program is explained and given to the students at the beginning of their practicum (sophomore level) and applied throughout their student teaching (senior level). This rubric is presented followed by two real life examples involving student teachers. Sockett (2009, p. 295) stated that “dispositions are dispositions to act and the context is all.” The examples seek to illustrate, not only the importance of assessing dispositions, but also, the existent potential limitations in the process of explaining dispositions.
Table 1 shows the format of a rubric created by a committee within a given College of Education. The rubric was designed under the assumption that students already had read about dispositions in their respective teaching programs and are familiar with the concepts.
Table 1. Practicum and Student Teaching Disposition Form
Disposition form for Teacher Candidates
Name of Student: ____Form Completed by: _____ Date
This rubric should be included in the syllabus for all teacher candidates. Each one of these experiences contain a seminar where the instructor debriefs with the teacher candidates the teaching experiences lived at their respective school sites. At the beginning of these seminars, the instructor explains the purpose for the inclusion of the rubric and the importance of understanding what each criterion entails. Syllabi is usually posted on the virtual learning environment (i.e., Blackboard ®) provided by the institution where students can find information, assignments, tests among many other tasks for a given course. These documents, once posted by the instructor, are always available to the students for the duration of the course or seminar.
In many teacher education programs, each teacher candidate has a cooperating teacher (in-service teacher at the site) and one university supervisor (US) that observe the teacher candidate multiple times throughout the semester. The cooperating teacher (CT) and the US are responsible in the objective evaluation of the teacher candidate. In situations where dispositions are excellent, the university supervisor informs the program coordinator via email, phone call, or through the final evaluation of the teacher candidate. On the other hand, when there is a lack of dispositions, the university supervisor informs to the coordinator of the program via a phone call or email within one week after the identification of the behavior. Under normal circumstances, this communication with the coordinator of the program takes place after the US has made several attempts to help the teacher candidate correct the behavior. The program coordinator visits the school where the candidate is placed. She or he conducts an observation which data is then shared with the cooperating teacher. A decision is made in the process. A series of steps are taken when a lack of disposition is re-confirmed.
The teacher candidate meets with the coordinator of the program and the director of field experiences from the College of Education to further discuss the situation.
Based on the result of the meeting, a series of options are considered...
A second chance is considered for the teacher candidate to improve her/his dispositions.
Extend the amount of days at the current site.
Change of school site (along with the extension of time).
Fail practicum or student teaching.
Dismissal from the teaching program. This option depends on the severity of the behavior and most times is aligned with a violation of the institution academic integrity.
Dismissal from the university. This option depends on the severity of the behavior and most times is aligned with a violation of the institution’s academic integrity.
An appeal process is always available for the student when the decision involves failure of the experience or dismissal from the program or university.
The list of the different behaviors constituting a violation of the academic integrity is explained to all students during the first-year seminar and is available to students through the institution academic catalogue.
The process of helping teacher candidates understand concepts related to dispositions is critical in any teacher certification program. This statement is in full agreement with a conclusion provided by Brewer, Lindquist, and Altemueller (2011) stating that programs must consider the development of a process to teach dispositions before and during any teaching practice in school sites. Appropriate dispositions must be demonstrated throughout the entire teacher certification process. Regardless of the student’s status (e.g., junior, senior), some of them will not be capable to become teachers. Furthermore, and based on the nature of each case, teacher certification programs must decide when the demonstration of poor dispositions is consistent enough or serious enough as to stop the candidate from pursuing the certification. Decisions of this nature are sensitive but necessary when holding a candidate accountable to the professional standards of the subject matter. It is the responsibility of teacher education programs to help teacher candidates develop skills related to dispositions. (Brewer, Lindquist and Altemueller, 2011)
Based on the findings of this study, it is also the responsibility of a teacher education program to keep objective data regarding the development of dispositions and to keep reminding teacher candidates of the importance of professionalism as a pre-service and in-service teacher. Along with the objective data, Murray (2007, p.386) mentions “disposition in teacher education awaits additional scholarship to add to its lower levels of meaning, but in the meantime, it serves as a hypothetical construct to guide that research and to also guide reflection on the teacher’s actions and to provide a continuity of purpose for the teacher.”
Borko, H., Liston, D., & Whitcomb, J. (2007). Apples and fishes. The debate over dispositions in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 359-364.
Brewer, R., Lindquist, C., & Altemueller, L. (2011). The dispositions improvement process. International Journal of Instruction, 4(2), 51-68.
Burant, T., Chubbuck, S., & Whipp, J. (2007). Reclaiming the moral in the dispositions debate. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 397-411.
Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (2013). CAEP issues call for action; Defines professional dispositions as used in teacher education. Retrieved from http://caepnet.org/standards/standard-2
Damon, W. (2007). Dispositions and teacher assessment. The need for a more rigorous definition. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 365-369.
Diez, M. (2007). Looking back and moving forward. Three tensions in the teacher dispositions discourse. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 388-396.
Freeman, L. (2003, November). Where did dispositions come from and what can we do with them? Paper presented at the second annual Symposium on Educator Dispositions.
Heider, F. (1958). The psychology of interpersonal relations. New York, NY: Wiley.
Malle, B. F. (1999). How people explain behavior: A new theoretical framework. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 3, 23-48.
Murray, F. (2007). Dispositions: A superfluous construct in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 381-387.
Sockett, H. (2009). Dispositions as virtues. The complexity of the construct. Journal of Teacher Education, 60, 291-303.
A. (2007). Dispositions in teacher education. A look at social justice. Journal of Teacher Education, 58(5), 370-380.
Lecturas: Educación Física y Deportes, Vol. 24, Núm. 254, Jul. (2019)