Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 34 (July, 2013), p. 1-11.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)
This research addressed the question: What aspects of teacher candidates’ practice do we pay attention to when we are judging their readiness to teach?
Four elementary schools and a University teacher preparation program collaborated on this study.
Thirty participants took part in the study: four university liaison lecturers, four principals, four adjunct lecturers and eighteen mentor teachers from the four collaborating schools.
The data collected through verbal interview responses to an open-ended task.
The participants had suggested twenty questions, which revealed significant aspects of the judgment ecology through reference to particular school features and processes that would not have been apparent if they had been asked for a generic list.
The findings suggest that there is broad agreement amongst the judges as to what the cues are in judging readiness to teach, that comparable weight is given to these cues and that judges use more than one type and source of evidence when making their decisions.
The judges see multiple aspects of a teacher candidate’s performance as relevant to their decisions.
Each participant used at least four, and most commonly six, of the six identified dimensions in their listed questions.
All six of the dimensions appear in the top five priority questions of the participants, and when these are weighted the pattern is reinforced.
The findings suggest that the more people who are involved in making a judgment about a teacher candidate’s readiness the more reliable that judgment should be.
By providing empirical evidence of what people consider when they are judging readiness to teach the authors have begun to explore the judgment process in a rigorous way. Social Judgment Theory suggested to them that judges would have cues and policies that formed a lens through which judgments were made.
The findings show that these participants were thoughtful and careful about how they made their decisions, used a range of evidence sources and types to back up their choices and could articulate what they thought was most important in teacher candidates’ performance.
Across the group of 30 participants there were patterns in these cues and policies.
Using the framework of Social Judgment Theory has helped us to build a picture of judging teacher candidates’ readiness to teach.
By using the twenty questions task we have identified the cues and dimensions for judgment that the 30 participants used.
This made the judgment process more transparent for teacher candidates, mentor teachers, and university supervisors.