A Data-Driven Dispositions Model for Teacher Candidates and Program Review

Spring 2009

Source: Action in Teacher Education, v. 31 no. 1 (Spring 2009) p. 58-74.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article examines an assessment initiative for reviewing and developing student dispositions to address faculty concerns about the issue, as well as attend to programmatic needs.

The history of dispositions in teacher education has demonstrated an asymmetrical pattern concerning its definitions, uses, and places within the field.
Given this multidimensional conundrum, how should a teacher education program, an institution, a department, or an individual answer the ostensibly relative question "What is a disposition?"


Within the College of Education at Northern Illinois University (NIU), the authors have answered this question via the context and culture that inspired the creation of their institutional conceptual framework. Six areas constitute dispositions: caring, collaboration, creative and critical thinking, lifelong learning, scholarship, and diversity.
Thus, NIU's conceptual framework was the foundation for the development of the categories included within the dispositions model.

The presented disposition model is part of a coordinated and multitiered collegewide initiative for gathering, reviewing, and analyzing data in a central assessment system that is used for examining measures of students' dispositions connected to an institutional conceptual framework, program goals, and external accreditation performance data.

Model Tools

Two main tools exist within the model. One tool is the dispositions rubric. The rubric indicators include observable behaviors written to describe performance in methods course work. Candidates' performances are based on a dichotomous indicator of two ratings: acceptable and alert.

The second tool is the status-level system. Four levels with associated consequences have been established to track candidates' development relative to dispositions. Candidates at the first three levels are considered to be in the process of developing appropriate dispositions, whereas candidates at Level 4 are considered unacceptable and so must be recommended for a formal review by a faculty committee.

Initial data, derived from 430 undergraduate and 64 graduate candidates, recommended intervention for 46 candidates, and only 2 were recommended for formal review by a faculty committee.


The data-driven dispositions model that the authors have developed and employed in several programs at NIU is emerging as an integral part of the training for their candidates.
Early data  analyses reflect informative patterns of dispositional concerns, which various programs and instructors may address through curricular and policy revisions, as well as through syllabus changes and direct individual interventions.

Updated: Nov. 23, 2009