Fostering Dispositions Through the Literary Arts

Winter, 2010

Source: Action in Teacher Education, V.31 No. 4 (Winter, 2010). P. 14-27.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study investigates the role of the literary arts in fostering teachers' dispositions in one socio-multicultural foundations course. In this study, preservice teachers read historical and biographical fiction chronicling encounters among diverse worldviews.
Specifically, the author was interested in how the teachers would describe the literature as helping them become committed to the well-being of diverse student like those whom they had read about in their literature study texts.


The participants were 24 elementary education undergraduate credential students enrolled in a large public state university. Of the 24 students, 4 were men and 20 were women. Furthermore, 75% of the students were White/Caucasian, 12% Hispanic or Latino, 10% Asian, 2% Filipino, and 1% American Indian/Alaska Native.

The author examined a class project that offered preservice teachers the opportunity to learn about the schooling live and learning of diverse students through reading and analyzing a common text.
The students learned in groups of four and were required to read one of the books which chosen on the basis of how they explore diverse students' lives.

The data gathered during this project include the preservice teacher' oral class presentations and their individual papers and surveys.


The findings show that the preservice teachers described the literary arts as engaging for their elements of affectivity, intimacy, sincerity, unpredictability, and open-endedness.

Furthermore, the preservice teachers acknowledged that they critically reconsidered prior assumptions about their students and the concepts in the theoretical literature introduced in the class.

Finally, the preservice teachers' papers and group presentations demonstrate how the literary arts allowed them to view their students and the theoretical perspectives introduced in the course with seemingly new eyes.


The author concludes that the literary arts in teacher education may have the potential to foster dispositions—especially, the disposition to observe students more closely. Furthermore, this disposition is essential if we aim to prepare teachers to believe that all children can learn and to commit to developing a practice that reflect that belief.

Updated: Dec. 15, 2011