Significant Issues in Defining and Assessing Teacher Dispositions

Jul. 20, 2010

Source: The Teacher Educator, Volume 45, Issue 3 (July 2010), pages 179 – 201.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Teacher preparation programs are required by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to assess the knowledge, skills, and dispositions of teacher candidates. Dispositions and the personal values that support them are defined differently by NCATE and other experts in the fields of education and business.

This study explores the personal values and beliefs about students and learning of experienced teachers and teacher candidates during clinical practice internship.

Research Questions

The authors sought to answer the following questions: What is the relationship between Rokeach’s instrumental and terminal values and one teacher education program’s dispositions? What are the instrumental and terminal values of cooperating teachers?
How do these instrumental and terminal values and dispositions of the cooperating teachers compare to those of the clinical interns?

This study was conducted in the teacher education unit of an urban southern university.
The teacher education unit developed a set of eight dispositions that have been used by the unit since 2000 as criteria for teacher candidate evaluation. The unit’s NCATE accreditation was recently reaffirmed.

99 clinical interns and 125 cooperating teachers participated in this study. The majority of the respondents were female and White: 94% of the cooperating teachers and 97% of the teacher candidates were female; Furthermore, 92% of the students and 88% of the cooperating teachers were white.

Data Collection and Method
Both sets of respondents completed a computer-based survey that included demographic background information, satisfaction with career choice and current school location, personal values, and eight dispositions.

Personal values were measured with the Rokeach Value Scale, a list of 18 terminal values and 18 instrumental values. Respondents ranked each list of values in the Rokeach instrument from most (1) to least (18) important.


The study found a significant relationship between some of the terminal and instrumental values and some of the dispositions. Rokeach’s instrumental and terminal values have been studied for over 30 years, and the demonstrated positive relationship between the value rankings by the cooperating teachers and the dispositions gives some credibility to the dispositions of one teacher education program.

Furthermore, the authors found that the most important terminal values for cooperating teachers were as follows: family security, freedom, happiness, and security. The most important instrumental values for this group were as follows: honest, responsible, loving, and helpful.

These findings help the authors better understand their current predominantly White female population of teacher education candidates. The authors learned that, in general, instrumental and terminal values and disposition of cooperating teachers are similar to those of clinical interns; however, happiness was more important to the younger teachers whereas being helpful and respectful of individual differences became more important as age increased. Examining the causal factors related to this difference will be important.

The authors recommend that NCATE coordinate with those who have the most knowledge about dispositions to work to determine those dispositions that are most desired for teachers and future teachers.

(2002) Professional standards for the accreditation of schools, colleges, and departments of education Author , Washington, DC — National Council for the Accreditation of Colleges of Teacher Education (NCATE).

Rokeach, M. (1973) The nature of human values. Free Press. , New York.

Rokeach, M. (1974) Change and stability in American value systems, 1968-1971. Public Opinion Quarterly 38 , pp. 222-238.

Updated: Nov. 02, 2010