Understanding Teacher Candidate Dispositions: Reflecting to Build Self-Awareness

Oct. 15, 2010

Source: Journal of Teacher Education, 61(4): 350-363. (September/October 2010).
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The goal of this paper was to analyze the disposition domains teacher candidates draw from as they think about their early teaching experiences.

The authors used the ICM framework which composed of three disposition domains—intellectual, cultural, and moral-as a heuristic for analyzing teacher candidates’ open-ended journals.


Data consisted of 35 teacher candidate journals from two teacher education programs in the United States. All but 2 of the 35 participants were female.

Candidates reflected individually in their journals, in their professional teaching portfolios, and through implementation of a classroom research project. They also reflected collaboratively through candidate-led discussions of problematic situations of each candidate’s choosing and through roundtable presentations of their classroom research projects.


The data indicate that candidates who possessed the greatest awareness of their dispositions also had the greatest capacity to unpack their assumptions. Specifically, their reflections demonstrated three characteristics:
(a) a propensity for questioning the how and why of their thinking and actions,
(b) a balance between focusing on students and the self across all domains, and
(c) adoption of multiple perspectives.

The authors recommend that educators interested in developing candidates’ dispositions begin with reflective activities that help candidates better understand the self (Carroll & Carney, 2005; Sockett, 2006). To help candidates build an awareness of the self, such activities should include articulating desired ends, clarifying moral values, and understanding one’s own cultural identity. Candidates must then be guided to discern the contexts of different teaching situations so they can achieve their purposes. Given the developmental nature of dispositions, this must be a process addressed and modeled continually throughout the candidates’ program (Carroll, 2005).

Carroll, D. (2005). Developing dispositions for teaching: Teacher education programs as moral communities of practice. New Educator, 1(2), 81-100.
Carroll, D., & Carney, J. (2005). Personal perspectives: Using multimedia to express cultural identity. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 4(4), 465-488.
Sockett, H. (2006). Characters, rules, and relations. In H. Sockett (Ed.), Teacher dispositions: Building a teacher education framework of moral standards (pp. 9-26). Washington, DC: AACTE.

Updated: Sep. 25, 2011