Assessing Pre-Service Teacher Dispositions

 

Peter J. Hamlin, Gonzaga University

hamlin@gonzaga.edu

 

Research has shown that teachersí belief systems constitute one of the most important factors that affect teacher development and performance.† A fundamental task of colleges and departments of teacher education is that of tracking, monitoring, and assessing candidate performance through their program. In recent years, in part due to external accreditation requirements, teacher education programs have been charged with the responsibility of assessing more than their candidatesí knowledge and skills in teaching. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) accreditation process as well as that of other professional organizations requires teacher preparation programs to develop appropriate assessment devices to measure and document candidate dispositions.

 

Because of this requirement, teacher education programs are exploring what is meant by dispositions and investigating how they can be used and assessed.† While school leaders have long sought a definitive tool for assessing teacher affect and dispositions, a practical method for measurement has proven elusive.† On-line reviews of college accreditation reports indicate that colleges are attempting to assess dispositions without the use of sound measurement techniques or adequate definitions of the construct. The end result, of course, is a reliance on face validity.

 

This presentation provides a conceptual framework that helps educators understand what "appropriate dispositions" are, why it is important to measure them, and how to implement an assessment process in their schools and districts.

 

The importance of disposition assessment was stated by Broko, Liston, & Whitcomb (2007). They explain that dispositions are an individualís tendencies to act in a given manner and are predictive of patterns of action. They answer the question of whether teachers are likely to apply the knowledge and skills they learn in teacher preparation programs to their own classroom teaching when they are not being critiqued. One of the most difficult situations faced by teacher educators, according to Schulte, Edick, Edwards, and Mackiel (2004) is coming across teacher candidates who meet the requirements of content knowledge and pedagogical skills, yet lack the dispositions essential to effective teaching. A teacher with the knowledge and skills to teach a particular content in particular ways is necessary but the possession of these knowledge and skills does not guarantee successful instructional implementation in the classroom. The manner in which the teachersí knowledge is shared with students, the way in which student learning is facilitated or guided in an educational setting speaks to the importance of dispositions assessment. To gain the whole picture of a candidateís teaching effectiveness, one must consider all aspects of the teaching act.

 

References

 

Borko, H. & Whitcomb, J. (2007). Apples and fishes: The debate over dispositions in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 58, 359-364.

Dee, J. & Henkin, A. (2002). Assessing dispositions toward cultural diversity among preservice teachers. Urban Education, 37, 22-39.

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (2001). Professional standards for the accreditation of schools, colleges, and departments of education. Washington, DC, Author.

Notar, C., Riley, G. & Taylor, P. (2009). Dispositions: Ability and assessment. International Journal of Education, 1, 2-14.

Rike, C.J. & Sharp, L.K. (2008). Assessing preservice teachersí dispositions: A critical dimension of professional preparation. Childhood Education, 84, 150-155.

Schulte, L., Edick, N., Edwards, S. & Mackiel, D. (2004). The development and validation of the Teacher Dispositions Index. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Education, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska.

Wayda, V. & Lund, J. (2005). Assessing disposition: An unresolved challenge in teacher education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, 76, 345-361.