Investigations into teacher pyschological characteristics

Decker, Lauren E., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Rimm-Kaufman, Sara, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Fan, Xitao, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Mashburn, Andrew, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Kingston, Paul, Department of Sociology, University of Virginia

The purpose of this set of three papers was to investigate the psychological characteristics of teachers. First an investigation of the personalities and beliefs of 397 pre-service teachers is presented. Participants completed a demographic questionnaire, the NEO Five-Factor Inventory, as well as the Teacher Belief Q-sort to assess teacher beliefs. Results indicate pre-service teachers differ greatly from a normative sample of their college aged peers on the NEO Five-Factor Inventory. Age, ethnicity, gender, intended teaching level (elementary or secondary), conscientiousness, and openness were predictive of some aspects of pre-service teachers' beliefs. Implications of these findings and future research in teacher education are discussed. Second, a literature review assesses the current state of literature concerning teacher beliefs. Taken together, the review of the literature revealed three significant gaps. First, teachers' beliefs have yet to be considered synergistically. Second, many beliefs that may have potential bearing on classroom practices (quality) have not been adequately explored. Finally, notably absent from existing work is research that brings beliefs and process quality together in relation to outcomes for children. Finally, the third paper addresses gaps found in the literature review by an investigation into the relation between teacher psychological profiles and pre-k classroom quality and student outcomes. Questionnaire and observational data were collected for 437 teachers and their 1848 pre-k students as part of the National Center for Early Development's study of State Wide Early Education Programs (SWEEP) study. Findings indicate that psychological profiles do exist for pre-k teachers. Such profiles also relate to observed classroom quality and student language and literacy outcomes in pre-k. Finally, classroom quality was found to mediate the relationship between teacher psychological profiles and literacy outcomes for children. The findings of this third paper suggest the importance of teacher psychological profiles in understanding the large variability currently seen in early education classroom quality. Taken together, these papers provide evidence that suggest the need for further attention to the psychological characteristics of teachers.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
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