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Hiring for Dispositions
Why Dispositions are Important
Assessing & Training Educators on Dispositions
Dispositions in Action
Developing Dispositional Prescreen Questions
Biography of Author
Annotated Bibliography (PDF link)
I have researched many resources and am providing this annotated bibliography of the best for new, experienced, and aspiring superintendents who want to enhance their effectiveness in the topics related to this module.
Bass, B. M., & Riggio, R. E. (2006). Transformational leadership (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
This book highlights the importance of leading the organizational culture to a more transformational and adaptive culture that is critical in today’s fast paced environments. To lead these organizations, transformational leaders are needed who can blend the leadership strategies for long –term success and superior performance. As an organization you must value the dispositions of your employees by hiring and cultivating caring dispositions. Implications for all aspects of a company’s organizational structure are strategically discussed.
Bass, B. M. (2008). The Bass handbook of leadership: Theory, research, and managerial applications (4th ed.). New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
This handbook highlights the important role theory, research and managerial applications play in transformational leadership. This book explores the personal attributes and traits of leadership. This handbook also provides leaders with practical applications to move beyond theory and research to transform a place of business into a work place that values transformational leadership styles.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D., (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(n2), 139-144.
This article examines how raising standards through classroom assessment is driven by what teachers and students do in the classroom. It is about teacher/student relationships more than it is about standards and assessment. Two basic issues must be addressed in order for learning to improve: what are the teacher’s beliefs about learning and what beliefs teachers hold about the potential of all their pupils for learning? Policy, practice and implementation must be focused on the teacher/student relationship in order to achieve higher standards for our students.
Budig, G. & Heaps, A. (2012). School reform and student engagement. Special Supplement to Phi Delta Kappan. Retrieved from
This article describes school reform and why student engagement must include an examination of the teacher and student relationship. Student engagement is a central theme that emerges as critical in school reform. Reform, or reinvention, of our schools will be successful only if we broaden the conversation to include issues not currently at the center of school improvement discussions. Teachers must possess the appropriate dispositions to provide for optimal learning environments that engage our students. Students trace their teacher’s ability to engage them academically to personality and style. Students cite their best teachers as those who refuse to give up on them when failure is inevitable.
Clark, A. ( 2012). Strategic staffing – landing your best forces in schools with the greatest needs. School Administrator, 69(7), 16-20.
This article outlines that strategic staffing is a must to land your best forces in schools with the greatest needs. The solution to increasing academic performance in Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s lowest preforming schools was to launch a strategic staffing plan. In four years it has exceeded expectations, turning around almost all of the participating schools. Student achievement on state tests has soared. Turnaround principal competencies and a process for hiring the most skillful leaders for changing the fortune of the most trouble schools are discussed.
Combs, A. W., & Snygg, G. (1949). Individual behavior: A perceptual approach to behavior. New York: Harper & Row.
This book presents a comprehensive and systematic framework for making sense of human experience, behavior and the relationship between the two. The systematic framework is labeled a personal, phenomenological, or perceptual approach to psychology and was widely accepted in applied areas such as Counseling, Education, and Organizational Development.
Combs, A. W., & Fisk, R.S. (1954). Problems and research needs in administration. Journal of Social Issues, X(2), 49-57.
This article points out that there have been many good ideas that have proven so disappointing in education reform. The authors believe there are three primary reasons: reforms concentrate on things rather than people, traditional efforts are based on partly right assumptions and laid-on solutions rarely achieve their anticipated results. Truly effective change in so complex an institution can only be accomplished by affecting changes in people. Comb’s argues that you must concentrate on changing people’s beliefs and you must emphasize processes and not preconceived outcomes to make change. Determine what is important and eliminate barriers to reform by encouraging innovation and change by allowing people to make mistakes to get it right.
Combs, A. W. (1962). Perceiving, behaving, becoming. A new focus for education. Washington, DC: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
This article describes that whatever we do in teaching depends upon what we think people like. The goals we seek and things we do are determined by our beliefs about the nature of people and their capacities. Combs points out that teachers who believe children can, will try to teach them. Teachers who believe children can’t, give up trying. Beliefs can set us free or they can limit our potential. New concepts of human potentialities are explored about self-realization. Whatever we decide is the nature of fully-functioning, self-actualizing individuals must become the goal of education.
Combs, A. (1966). Teacher education – A problem in becoming. In E.B. Smith, H. C. Olsen, P.J. Johnson, & C. Barbour (Eds.), Partnership in teaching in teacher education (pp. 211-227) Washington, D.C: The Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, The Association for Student Teaching.
Combs discusses for more than thirty years it has been a privilege to be engaged in the practice of clinical psychology, counseling, psychotherapy, and teaching. Through his experiences he found it necessary to change some of his former thinking about the training of persons in those fields. Combs discusses the “self as an instrument” and that an effective self in not something taught or given. A self grows through a process of discovery from its interaction with the world throughout its lifetime. He applies his self as an instrument concept to teacher education and what we can learn from it and apply from it. He summarizes that the problem of teacher education is not a question of teaching students about teaching; it is a problem of assisting students to become effective teachers.
Combs, A.W., Soper, D.W., Gooding, C.T., Benton, J.A., Dickman, J.F., & Usher, R. H. (1969). Florida studies in the helping professions (Social Science Monograph #37). Gainesville: University of Florida Press. Retrieved from
This monograph covers the “self as an instrument” concept of professional work. The perceptual organization of effective counselors and the perceptual organization of effective teachers are covered in detail. The monograph summaries that our beliefs have a controlling, directing affect and determine the choices of behavior we make form moment to moment. In perceptual terms behavior is understood as a consequence of two kinds of perceptions: the perceptions one has about the world and those they have about themselves.
Combs, A. W., Richards, A. C., & Richards, F. (1976). Perceptual psychology: A humanistic approach to the study of persons. New York: Harper & Row.
Combs and Richards discuss the importance of an accurate conception of need. Maslow’s need hierarchy is discussed, as well as the origins of need in the nature of persons and the universe. The dynamic of an organization is reviewed, and as a system within a larger system, it seems clear that all persons are affected by the larger systems of which they are a part while simultaneously an organization made up of many parts is affected by the parts of which it is composed. The authors argue the enhancement of organizations is about the phenomenal self. The basic need of human beings is to strive for adequacy and to want to make ourselves better, thus we all do things out of the desire to better ourselves. The problem of changing patterns of behavior or functioning is not motivational, but is perceptual.
Combs, A. W. (1981). What the future demands of education. Phi Delta Kappen, 62(5), 369-372.
Preparation for the future has always been a primary objective for education. Until recently, the future has been generally stable and predictable. As a consequence, curricula designed for youth could concentrate on learning precisely defined skills and the acquisition of subject matter, but this is no longer adequate. Comb’s discusses information explosion and the increasing pace of change and implications for education. The author stresses future choices is on values and on life-long education. He lays out the need for the humanistic basis of planning and that the future demands effective problem solvers and citizens willing and able to deal effectively with themselves and each other in the solution of human problems.
Combs, A. W. (1988). New assumptions for educational reform. Educational Leadership, 45(5), 38-40.
The article describes that few things in education reform tried over the past 30 years have been successful. Phonics, audiovisual gadgets, testing, new math, etc. prove to be disappointing for three primary reasons: they concentrate on things rather than people, traditional efforts are based on partly right assumptions and laid-on solutions rarely achieve their anticipated results. We must concentrate on changing people’s beliefs and emphasize processes, not preconceived outcomes. Changing people’s beliefs is seldom accomplished by force or coercion. People must want to change.
Collins, J. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Collins shares his findings about great companies and organizations. He highlights a framework of greatness by defining great leaders that are a paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will. He emphasizes the importance of leaders, “getting the right people on the bus” and in the right seats, then figures where to drive it. He discusses the importance of building the company culture around the idea of freedom and responsibility within a framework of hiring the right people.
Disposition. (n.d.). In Dictionary.com online. Retrieved from
Hattie, J. (2012) Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. New York, NY: Routledge.
This book synthesizes the results of more than 15 years of research involving millions of students across the globe. The author’s research is a meta–analysis of research that represents the biggest ever collection of evidence- based research into what works in schools and learning. Teacher’ beliefs and commitments have the greatest influence on their students’ achievement. A student in a high impact teacher’s classroom has almost a year’s advantage over his or her peers in a lower-effect teacher’s classroom. The author offers concise steps for improving learning in every classroom.
Huckaby, D. (2012). Hiring for attitude. School Administrator, 69(7), 30-35.
This article points out school districts must look beyond the credentials of prospective teachers and must gauge teachers on their performance and core beliefs. Research is clear that the single most significant factor in increasing student achievement is having a highly effective teacher in the classroom. Washoe County Schools is pushing aggressive reforms in employee hiring. They plan to bring the most skilled and caring teachers into schools with the greatest academic needs.
Katz, L. G. (1993). Dispositions: Definitions and implications for early childhood practices. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Retrieved from
This research article compares traits, dispositions, thought processes, attitudes and habits that have implications for early childhood educational practices. The main purpose of the paper is to examine the construct of dispositions and explore its relevance to curriculum and teaching practices in early childhood education. This research paper explores the formal definitions of dispositions and the implications for early childhood educational practices.
Martin, M. (2009). A case study of dispositions addressed in principal preparation programs as a transition into internship. International Journal of Education Leadership Preparation, 4(3). Retrieved from
This case study analyzed dispositions and why the dispositions of leaders have a definite affect on the culture of the schools. This study addressed dispositions in school leadership preparation programs and provided insight into the specific dispositions addressed in candidates as well as identifying strengths and weaknesses of candidates. This study demonstrated a positive step toward understanding educational dispositions addressed in school leadership programs and also points out that further study needs to be conducted to transfer professional dispositions into the workplace.
Marshall, J. (2006). Uniting the five core propositions and effective teacher dispositions. Teacher Education Journal of South Carolina, 43-46.
This article highlights that any comprehensive structure for effective teacher training should integrate skills, knowledge and dispositions. Many teacher education programs struggle to integrate teacher competencies with teacher dispositions. If dispositions are to become an integral part of teacher education programs, then it seems that they need to be seamlessly embedded into teacher education programs. Marshall discusses the NBPTS overview and outlines five core propositions and identifies effective teacher dispositions that all teachers should be able to do to attain certification.
National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2006). Professional standards for the accreditation of schools, colleges, and departments of education. Washington, DC. Retrieved from
The referenced web site outlines the professional standards for accreditation of schools, colleges and departments of education in the United States. The National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education also suggests the following definition: The values, commitments and professional ethics that influence behaviors towards students, families, colleagues and communities and affect student learning, motivation and development as well as the educators’ own professional growth.
Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board. (2008). Professional standards for beginning (new) teacher standards and the experienced teacher standards. Frankfort, KY. Retrieved from
The referenced web site outlines the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board Professional standards for new and experienced teacher standards. Professional dispositions can be found specifically in domain standard number three.
Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books.
This book outlines theories around motivation and the surprising truth of what truly motivates us. Pink explains that there is a gap between what science knows and how businesses operate. Three major operational concepts are discussed which includes autonomy, mastery and purpose. Operational techniques for putting these concepts into action to maximize business productivity and performance are discussed. Prospective leaders can utilize dispositions when recruiting/selecting employees in order to build a culture to improve performance by hiring the right people.
Richards, A.C. (Ed.) (2010). Matters of consequence: Selected writings of Arthur W. Combs, Ph.D. Carrollton, GA: A Field Psych Trust Publication.
This book is based on selected writings of Arthur W. Combs. Anne Richards summarizes Combs’s work into four areas which include: psychology, education, therapeutic relationships and society and culture. The selected writings that Richards lays out establish a baseline in each area and builds on the collective work of Combs that highlights his significant contributions to each area based on his life’s work
Sahlberg, P. (2010). Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland? New York, NY: College Press.
This book provides an analysis of the Finnish Educational system and gives insights and facts that could be used to build an effective educational system. The history of Finnish education is documented and the book addresses the role of teachers as well as the links between education reform and society as a whole. Sahlberg notes that becoming a teacher in Finland is highly competitive. Successful teacher candidates must possess high scores and a positive disposition in order to be a teacher in a Finnish school.
Sorka, S. (2009). Getting to the heart of education: Listening to the whole child. Kentucky truancy / dropout prevention symposium. Retrieved from
This article describes that dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to the value of caring for students if you are going to be an effective teacher. You must have a vision for high standards, but you must provide for a safe and supportive learning environment. Research shows that the attributes of the classroom teacher significantly impacts students and their achievement. Sorka points out that if you don’t get into the hearts of students, you can’t get into their heads.
Wasicsko, M.M. (1977a). Assessing educator dispositions: A perceptual psychological approach. (Formerly titled: A research‑based teacher selection instrument). Retrieved from
This researched based paper operationalizes the perceptual psychological approach to assessing educator dispositions. It outlines the historical and research background of perceptual psychology and then brings perceptual psychology and its application to the educator selection process. Various training materials are given for one to understand how to evaluate and mark on a perceptual rater scale. Dispositions and perceptions about subject matter, self, other people, teaching task and general frame of reference are discussed.
Wasicsko, M.M. (1977). Improving teacher selection using perceptual inference in the teacher selection process. Columbus College. Retrieved from
This article discusses that the major problem with evaluating perceptual characteristics has been the difficulty involved in assessing perceptual orientation. This study was designed to develop and test self-instructional materials which might be used to assess perceptual characteristics of teacher candidates. The author highlights the methods, instruments and results of the study. The perceptual rating scale used for the research is included.
Wasicsko, M.M. (2000). The dispositions to teach. Unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from
This paper focuses on what is meant by dispositions, reviews the research base and gives a measurement tool so that you can select and prepare future teachers to be effective teachers. It concludes that great teachers have to know much and be able to do more; that effective teachers are effective people.
Wasicsko, M. M. (2004). The twenty-minute hiring assessment: How to ensure you’re hiring the best by gauging educator dispositions. The School Administrator. Retrieved from
This article examines the pioneering work of the late Arthur W. Combs and shows effective and ineffective educators differ significantly in their dispositions towards self, students and teaching. These findings can be used during the hiring process to increase the likelihood that you will hire a high-quality teacher. Dispositions towards self, towards students and towards teaching are discussed. Crafted questions to uncover teacher dispositions are outlined and summarized for one to be able to read between the lines and glean inferences before your hire a teacher.
Wasicsko, M. M. (2005). Hiring for the fourth factor. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from
This paper describes that in the hiring process, one should take dispositions into consideration. Wasicsko provides examples of questions that could be asked during an interview to increase the likelihood that you hire a high-quality individual. The work of Arthur W. Combs is briefly discussed so one can make reliable and valid determinations about a person’s dispositions in the short span of an interview. Wasicsko points out that one should leave a position vacant if one cannot hire for the fourth factor; dispositions.
Wasicsko, M. M. (2005). Summer can be a time to reenergize dispositions.
This article expresses that good teaching has three key ingredients: knowledge, skills and dispositions. There is a need to reenergize those dispositions each summer. The author discusses that this can be accomplished through a painless summer self-renewal plan. Three major objectives are discussed that evolved around dispositions of self, towards students and toward teaching. Suggestions are given that may help reenergize dispositions by using the summer to treat yourself kindly and have lots of fun. If dispositions are reenergized, then your students will benefit in the fall.
Wasicsko, M. M. (2006, September/October). Determining the dispositions to teach: A hiring strategy. Principal Magazine. Retrieved from
This paper summarizes the questions that could be asked during an interview to increase the likelihood that you hire a high-quality teacher. Arthur W. Combs’s work is briefly discussed that outlines how one can make reliable and valid determinations about a teacher’s dispositions in the short span of an interview. Wasicsko points out four major questions that should be asked in every interview.
Wasicsko, M.M. (2007). Perceptual approach to teacher dispositions. In M. Diez.& J. Raths (Eds), Dispositions in teacher education. (pp. 53-90), Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.
The definition of dispositions used to implement the hiring program was based on the theory and research of Arthur W. Combs as operationalized by M. Mark Wasicsko. The “effective teachers as effective people” model focuses on four dispositions (also called “perceptions”) that distinguish effective teachers--those who on average can obtain more than a year’s worth of growth with a year’s worth of effort—from ineffective teachers. The hiring process assesses the following dispositions and is used by all principals and site-based school councils: (1) perception about self; (2) perceptions about other people; (3) perceptions of purpose; and (4) perceptions of one’s frame of reference.
Wasicsko, M. M. (2007). Recharging the Disposition to Lead. Principal Leadership, 7(n8), 27-29.
This article describes that a favorite leader is not necessarily what one knows that makes them a great leader, but rather who the person is and how they are perceived. The leader’s human qualities and disposition combined with his or her knowledge and skills enable that person to transform the lives of teachers and students and create a culture that allows everyone to learn and grow. The author provides suggestions for principals to be able to revitalize themselves so they can start a new year fresh and ready to go.
Wasicsko, M.M., Wirtz, Paul, & Resor, Cynthia (2009, Summer). Using Dispositions in the Teacher Admissions Process. SRATE Journal, 18, 19-26. Retrieved from
This paper describes that in the teacher admission process one should take dispositions into consideration when granting acceptance into the teacher education program. NCATE standards for accreditation are discussed and that a comprehensive teacher preparation institution should make dispositions a key component in the admission program. Dispositions are defined, a model program is outlined and a perceptual rating scale for perceptual dispositions model is included in the appendix.
Wasicsko, M. (n.d.a). The dispositions project: Post-test materials set #1 [PDF document]. Retrieved from
The materials contained in the post-test are the culminating assessment for the self-study materials from Wasicsko’s Assessing educator dispositions: A perceptual psychological approach (1977a). Successfully passing this test will provide you with a Professional Perceptual Rater certificate and the ability to make dispositional inferences with confidence during a pre-screening or interview session with teacher candidates.
Wasicsko, M. (n.d.b). The national network for the study of educator dispositions. Retrieved from
This article makes it clear that in the next decade over 2.4 million teachers will be needed in U.S. schools. The recruitment, selection and preparation of these new educators must be based on knowledge, skills and dispositions. Fortunately for candidates and higher education, there are both a theoretical basis for describing the dispositions of effective educators and tools by which dispositions can be assessed. The article discusses that The National Network for the Study of Educator Dispositions are carrying out longitudinal studies in educator preparation programs and subsequently in the classroom. The materials are available online and in on-ground training at the annual Symposium on Educator Dispositions. By becoming a member of the network, it entitles you to use materials created at EKU and elsewhere and to be part of the conversations about educator dispositions.
21st Century Superintendents - Planning for the Next Generation
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