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Discerning Quality Through Dispositions Assessments: Philosophical and Political Contexts for Dispositions in Teacher Education
Unformatted Document Text:  Discerning Quality through Dispositions Assessments: Philosophical and Political Contexts for Dispositions in Teacher Education Section I: ContentStatement of the Issue. The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) expects institutions to assess the skills, knowledge, and dispositions of teacher candidates. Katz (1993) defined a disposition as “a tendency to exhibit frequently, consciously, and voluntarily a pattern of behavior that is directed to a broad goal” (p. 1). Taylor and Waicsko (2000) stated that “dispositions are often defined as the personal qualities or characteristics that are possessed by individuals, including attitudes, beliefs, interests, appreciations, values, and modes of adjustment” (p. 2). The NCATE (2002) definition is: The values, commitments and professional ethics that influence behaviors toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student learning, motivation, and development as well as the educators’ own professional growth. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice. (p. 53) In their effort to assess dispositions, NCATE institutions have struggled with several issues and have usually resolved them in their own ways. Key questions that arise include what dispositions to assess, how and when to assess them, and how to use the results. Although information from one institution (Accreditation Report 2002 Core Campuses: Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2002) indicates they considered assessment to be harder than identification, others find identification as the greater challenge. Drew and Tandy (2004) found that 64% of the institutions responding to a survey had developed their own assessment instrument, presumably after not finding any useful existing instrument. In this presentation we will explore how our institution has wrestled with these key questions and put into place a multi-phase, multiple-source system of monitoring teacher candidate dispositions. We will also explore the philosophical and political implications of accredited institutions attempting to assess and teach “beliefs and attitudes related to values.” We will also contrast the move to assess and “teach” dispositions as seen in university-based teacher education programs with the general absence of such requirements in alternative licensure options. Literature Review. While the emphasis on teacher dispositions is fairly recent, research on effective/exemplary teachers has been developing for decades (Taylor & Wasicsko, 2000). Much of what has been found in that research, often termed “characteristics” or “perceptions,” would fall under the category of what is now termed “dispositions.” Mullin (2003) has categorized the approaches to the measurement of dispositions as psychodynamic, humanistic or existential, and behavioral. From the psychodynamic view, dispositions arise from underlying personality traits that are measured through personality and or psychological tests, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Researchers, such as Combs used high inference rubrics with observations, interviews, or simulated written incidents. (Taylor & Wasicsko , 2000). The humanistic or existential perspective seeks to

Authors: Kershaw, Cheryl., Benner, Susan., Wishart, William., Cagle, Lynn., Long, Vena. and Boser, Judy.
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Discerning Quality through Dispositions Assessments:
Philosophical and Political Contexts for Dispositions in Teacher Education
Section I: Content
Statement of the Issue.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education
(NCATE) expects institutions to assess the skills, knowledge, and dispositions of teacher
candidates. Katz (1993) defined a disposition as “a tendency to exhibit frequently,
consciously, and voluntarily a pattern of behavior that is directed to a broad goal” (p. 1).
Taylor and Waicsko (2000) stated that “dispositions are often defined as the personal
qualities or characteristics that are possessed by individuals, including attitudes, beliefs,
interests, appreciations, values, and modes of adjustment” (p. 2). The NCATE (2002)
definition is:
The values, commitments and professional ethics that influence behaviors
toward students, families, colleagues, and communities and affect student
learning, motivation, and development as well as the educators’ own
professional growth. Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to
values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice. (p. 53)
In their effort to assess dispositions, NCATE institutions have struggled with several
issues and have usually resolved them in their own ways. Key questions that arise include
what dispositions to assess, how and when to assess them, and how to use the results.
Although information from one institution (Accreditation Report 2002 Core Campuses:
Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2002) indicates they considered assessment to be harder
than identification, others find identification as the greater challenge. Drew and Tandy
(2004) found that 64% of the institutions responding to a survey had developed their own
assessment instrument, presumably after not finding any useful existing instrument.
In this presentation we will explore how our institution has wrestled with these key
questions and put into place a multi-phase, multiple-source system of monitoring teacher
candidate dispositions. We will also explore the philosophical and political implications
of accredited institutions attempting to assess and teach “beliefs and attitudes related to
values.” We will also contrast the move to assess and “teach” dispositions as seen in
university-based teacher education programs with the general absence of such
requirements in alternative licensure options.
Literature Review. While the emphasis on teacher dispositions is fairly recent, research
on effective/exemplary teachers has been developing for decades (Taylor & Wasicsko,
2000). Much of what has been found in that research, often termed “characteristics” or
“perceptions,” would fall under the category of what is now termed “dispositions.”
Mullin (2003) has categorized the approaches to the measurement of dispositions as
psychodynamic, humanistic or existential, and behavioral. From the psychodynamic
view, dispositions arise from underlying personality traits that are measured through
personality and or psychological tests, such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality
Inventory (MMPI) and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Researchers, such as
Combs used high inference rubrics with observations, interviews, or simulated written
incidents. (Taylor & Wasicsko , 2000). The humanistic or existential perspective seeks to


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