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The development of a context-specific scenario-based measure of teachers’ non-academic attributes

Research Report

Tracy Durksen; Robert Klassen



Education authorities in Australia and internationally are calling for evidence-based tools that can help measure the personal characteristics (i.e., non-academic attributes such as empathy and resilience) of prospective teachers entering initial teacher education (selection), during teacher education (post-selection) as well as when trained teachers enter the classroom (hiring and accreditation). This project sought to contextualise and trial an innovative scenario-based tool as a potential addition to the NSW Department of Education’s (DoE) placement procedures at the point of hiring. Of specific interest to the DoE is finding a way to improve upon the identification of teachers “most suited” for rural and/or remote teaching positions. Thus the current study aimed to (a) contextualise an existing situational judgement test (SJT) that was piloted in Canada and the UK, (b) explore whether “rural and remote suitability” would offer unique contributions to understanding the non-academic attributes of teachers, (c) develop new scenarios-based items with NSW teaching experts and, (d) pilot the developed tool with NSW teachers going through the approval-to-teach process for positions in state schools. Contextual expertise during this project was provided by 19 NSW teachers and 13 principals who were recommended by the DoE. Graduating or new teachers (N = 99) who were seeking their approval-to-teach through the DoE consented to being participants in the pilot study. Results revealed that a fine-grained assessment of non-academic attributes may be more useful (than the piloted format which produces an overall score) when placing new teachers into NSW government school positions. By incorporating a scenario-based approach into their placement process, the DoE may gain evidence-based insight into the non-academic attributes of applicants when making recommendations for specific teaching contexts in NSW.

Title File name/URL File type & size Date Description
The development of a context-specific scenario-based measure of teachers’ non-academic attributes REP_16_Durksen_Teacher non-academic attributes.pdf REP_16_Durksen_Teacher non-academic attributes.pdf 2786 KB [pdf] 02-Sep-2019 This final research report was prepared for the NSW Department of Education (DoE) as a summary of the SERAP approved project (2014209) entitled “Improving teacher quality and educational outcomes in New South Wales by transforming the selection of teachers.” Our project goal was to develop and pilot the first teacher-specific situational judgement test in NSW as a way of assessing teachers’ non-academic attributes.