Impact of Teacher Dispositions on Student Self-determination

By Barbara Hong and Peter Shull.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This study explored the impact teachers’ dispositions have on students’ ability to become self-determined individuals. Participants were high school students between the ages of 14-17, attending a suburban school in the U.S. (N=59). Data were collected through the interconnecting arrays of quantitative and qualitative analyses. Perceptions of teachers were measured using the Student Perception of Teacher Dispositions Scale (SPTDS) in terms of teachers’ responsiveness, relatedness, quality of teaching, and treatment of students. Level of self-determination was assessed using the Arc’s Self-Determination Scale (ASDS) in areas of personal autonomy, self-regulation, psychological empowerment, and self-realization. Findings revealed significant correlations (r=.88) between teachers’ mannerism and students’ ability and attitude in demonstrating self-deterministic behavior. Further analyses identified “Teaching Quality” and “Student Treatment” as “best” predictors of students’ level of self-determination. To obtain an in-depth understanding about the phenomenon of teachers’ behavior, three case studies were included to solicit a cross-sectional perspective of situational perception of their teachers. Critical analyses revealed three common themes students yearned from their teachers: (1) provide timely and meaningful feedback; (2) offer opportunities to make decisions; and (3) treat students as real human being. Though preliminary in nature, this study proposed new grounds for legitimately examining the effects positive teacher dispositions have on students’ outcome for self-determination.

Keywords: Dispositions, Characteristics, Teacher Quality, Student Outcome, Self-Determination, Self-Empowerment, Caring, Learning Environment

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp.261-272. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.181MB).

Dr. Barbara Hong

Associate Professor, Education, Human Development & Social Sciences, Penn State Altoona, State College, PA, USA

Dr. Barbara Hong is an Associate Professor of Education at Penn State Altoona. She obtained her Ph.D. from Columbia University in New York City after receiving three Masters from the same institutions. Her areas of research include teacher quality, special education, ethics of caring, self-empowerment, and educational leadership. Dr. Hong has been working with students for over 20 years, particularly students with special needs. She has been a national and international speaker and consultant throughout her career. She has worked with schools in Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania. Dr. Hong is a certified special educator and school administrator.

Dr. Peter Shull

Associate Professor of Engineer, Dept. of Engineering, Penn State Altoona, Altoona, PA, USA

PETER J. SHULL is Professor of Engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. After a successful career in the technical field of Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE), and having worked at the prestigious Nation Institute of Standards and Technology (the location of the atomic clock used as the United States time standard), Dr. Shull made the decision to return to academia and began his career in education. From the first day, Dr. Shull noted an apparent lack of sound educational practice at the higher educational level. This is reflected in a statement made by Dr. Shull’s Ph.D. advisor regarding teaching—“If you know the material well, you’ll be a great teacher!” Recognizing that one’s degree of knowledge of a subject has no relationship to their understanding of pedagogy or their ability to apply it, over the past 12 years, Dr. Shull has maintained an active focus on sound pedagogy as related to engineering education. These efforts have been divided into understanding pedagogical theory and the pragmatic application into the classroom. His primary areas of focus are the ethics of caring, self determination, and the connection of life skills to improved student learning. He has authored numerous publications in the field of pedagogy and the technical area of NDE including the popular textbook entitled Nondestructive Evaluation: Theory, Technique, and Applications (Marcel Dekker, 2001), he is a Fulbright Scholar (Argentina—2006), and is a member of the American Society of Nondestructive Testing, the American Society of Engineering Educators and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He received a B.S. degree (1982) in mechanical engineering from Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and a M.S. (1992) and a Ph.D. (1996) degree from The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.

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