What is common, core and critical: Mapping the non-academic attributes in Initial Teacher Education

Year: 2018

Author: Sheridan, Lynn, Coleman, Bianca, Angelico, Teresa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper reports on an exploratory study designed to develop understanding of the non-academic attributes considered to be critical to successful completion of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) courses. As successful completion is being increasingly identified in terms of a robust assurance of candidates’ classroom readiness (AITSL, 2015; TMAG, 2014), ITE providers in Australia are under pressure to reform their overall selection policies and procedures. This reform requires a re-consideration of not only academic skills but the desirable personal attributes needed for teaching.  ITE  providers are now required, as part of their accreditation of courses, to report on and account for the rigorous selection of applicants and to justify their identification of applicants’ non-academic attributes (e.g., communication and inter-personal skills, resilience, planning and organizational skills). The mounting focus on non-academic attributes in Australia and internationally is informed by research evidence linking non-academic attributes to teacher quality (Heinz, 2013; Klassen et al., 2018), and therefore student learning outcomes (AITSL, 2015; Hobson, Ashby, McIntyre, & Malderez, 2010; Korthagen, 2004).
            This paper reports on initial findings on the type of non-academic attributes that are considered to be core, and critical across the Australian teacher education landscape. The use of Social Cognitive Theory (Bandura, 1997), provides the overarching conceptual framework for this research. This theory is appropriate as it proposes that learning is conceived as an active cognitive process, involving interactions amongst personal, environmental, and behavioural factors (Bandura, 1997), with personal beliefs about potential for success (i.e., self-efficacy) and self-regulation, influencing teachers’ actions.
Initial findings reports on the mapping of selection approaches used by ITE providers across Australia in 2018. Findings revealed the use of a wide range of selection tools and approaches used by Australian ITE providers, reflecting commonality and differences in the non-academic attributes considered to be core and critical for teaching. This paper argues on the importance of generating in-depth research evidence to inform the ongoing development of current selection policies and processes, aimed at supporting candidates' development of core and critical non-academic attributes, as recommended by (NSWCDE, 2017). This paper highlights the need for greater clarify on the ways in which non-academic attributes are identified and developed in ITE in addition, to the important alignment of critical attributes to Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APSTs). This research will help support ITE providers to make selection choices that are responsive to the TEMAG/AITSL reform agenda and  impact teacher quality.