Professional Dispositions for All Candidates
Professional dispositions are valued by the unit and are systematically assessed to ensure that candidates develop and model dispositions including fairness and a belief that all students can learn. The unit has established a set of “Unit Dispositions” based on the Interstate New Teachers Assessment and Support Consortium (INTASC) and aligned the dispositions with the conceptual framework and the unit assessment system. All courses within the programs at both the initial and advanced levels are aligned with the unit dispositions. Programs within the unit may develop dispositions that are unique or specialized within the program of study; however, these dispositions clearly align with the unit dispositions. For example, the School Counseling Program has established a set of program dispositions that are aligned with the unit dispositions that counselor candidates are expected to demonstrate and are expected as part of the CACREP accreditation.
In fall 2006, the unit hosted a retreat whereby the unit dispositions were discussed and the alignment with the conceptual framework was examined. Faculty within programs discussed the dispositions and reviewed when and how dispositions were assessed within the transition points of their programs.
Dispositions are integrated and assessed within programs at various transition points. For example, candidates in the Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) receive a copy of the dispositions when they meet with their advisors after filing an “intent to major” application. Candidates then complete a dispositions self-assessment during the admission interview process. This helps candidates become familiar with department expectations and encourages reflection upon their own professional attitudes and behavior. A faculty member who observes a regular pattern of candidate behavior that demonstrates a failure to meet disposition standards completes an incident report that is placed in the candidate’s file. The report is shared with the candidate, allowing the candidate the opportunity to work on changing his/her attitude/behavior related to the identified disposition. Advisors systematically review candidates’ files when an application for student teaching is submitted and discuss any disposition incident reports and progress the candidate has made before approving the student teaching application. Candidates who have not made progress toward the disposition standards are not allowed to student teach. Candidates may appeal this decision through the CFS Appeals Process. The dispositions process in the CFS Department is similar to other programs within the unit depending upon the identified transition points.
Key assessments of dispositions include performance-based assessments, follow-up surveys, and cooperating teacher surveys. A review of unit data indicates that dispositions are a strength for the unit and candidates have the dispositions to be successful in the professional education field.
The unit is especially interested in ensuring that candidates are developing dispositions related to fairness and the belief that all students can learn. To that end, the unit dispositions have been directly aligned with our major assessments allowing us to provide evidence on an ongoing basis. Even though several of our dispositions directly or indirectly address fairness and a belief that all students can learn, disposition 3.1 – The educator believes that all students can learn at high levels and persists in helping all students achieve success is most closely aligned. A review of the disaggregated data from several sources indicate that on average, 94.12 percent of our candidates are rated as prepared on that particular disposition.
Each department within the unit has also established a formal process to address issues often related to candidates who do not demonstrate the expected professional dispositions. For example, the Special Education Department has a “Professional Concerns Process” whereby a candidate can be referred by a faculty member, cooperating teacher, or university supervisor for a professional concern. A meeting is then scheduled with the candidate to develop a “professional improvement plan” to address the concern. A timeline is established, if appropriate, and the plan is placed in the candidate’s file for monitoring throughout the program of study. The professional concerns process is typically outlined in the program handbooks.
Advanced Candidates and Other School Professionals
Dispositions are also important for other school professionals or candidates at the advanced level. The majority of programs at the advanced level work with program specific dispositions based on professional or state standards or competencies. However, as stated earlier, all programs are aligned with the unit dispositions.
Dispositions are introduced in a systematic manner within the transition points and are assessed through course related activities or clinical and field experiences. For example, advanced teacher candidates in special education are provided with information about dispositions during a formal admission interview. Dispositions are discussed throughout the program of study and integrated into course activities and application exercises. During the culminating student teaching/practicum experience, cooperating teachers evaluate the professional dispositions of teacher candidates using formative and summative evaluations that include a comprehensive Professional Behavior Observation Checklist. Candidates who do not meet the expectations related to dispositions go through the professional concerns process or are counseled out of the profession.
For candidates in the School Library Media Program, dispositions are introduced in IM 620, a course typically taken during the first semester. The dispositions are integrated throughout the program through course-based activities and assessed during the internship by the supervising library media specialist, the university supervisor, and the candidate.
Candidates in the Curriculum and Instruction Master’s Program are licensed teachers and have, therefore, demonstrated basic competency in the dispositions of effective teaching. Given that dispositional foundation, the program focuses on development of dispositions related to teachers at the advanced level: professional communication, engagement in the profession, professional collaboration, consideration of multiple perspectives, willingness to challenge and analyze one’s own perspective given alternatives, critical self-reflection, and attention to preparation and contributions to class. Assessments in each of the four core courses allow candidates to reflect on the development of dispositions; for example, students write a teacher identity essay, keep journals of their reflections/processing, create projects in small groups, write critical analyses of readings. Finally, the second transition point involves an oral presentation to a committee whereby candidates’ dispositions are evaluated as part of the assessment of their understanding of core content.
Candidates in Educational Administration and Leadership are licensed teachers either with a minimum of three years teaching or for alternative licensure, are required to have a minimum of 1050 hours of documented teaching. Candidates have demonstrated fundamental competency in the dispositions of effective teaching. Dispositions of effective school administration and leadership are further developed through the program application essay, coursework, mentoring with educational administration faculty, field experience activities, and the completion of an electronic portfolio. Assessments of candidate dispositions occur formatively by the development of professional leadership and goal statements; reflective essays and journaling; a self-assessment validated by advisors, professional networking and collaborating with peers; and by attending professional conferences. Summative assessment of candidates’ dispositions occur by means of a situational observation whereby the candidate is given a series of case studies and asked to respond to each situation orally with a university supervisor and on-site administrative supervisors. Rubrics are used to evaluate responses.
A review of program data indicates that our candidates have the professional dispositions to be successful and effective when working with students, parents, and other professional colleagues.
Summary: Candidates demonstrate a clear understanding of the professional dispositions expected within the education profession. Data from a variety of sources provide evidence that candidates demonstrate these dispositions when working in classrooms with students and interacting with parents and other professionals. The unit has also developed processes and support systems to address issues related to candidates who do not have the essential professional dispositions.