A Study of Personal Attributes Associated with Marginality and Failure of Preservice Teachers in the Terminal Field Experience
Author(s)Bancroft, Sharon Irene
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AbstractThis study examines the impact of personal attributes on student teachers' failure to pass or marginal success in the terminal field experience. Interviews were conducted of faculty at five Washington and two Oregon teacher education programs, who served as supervisors of student teaching. The interview was of the "depth" type described by Masserik (1981,) open-ended, interactive, and designed to encourage the sharing of case histories and subjective experience according to interpretive inquiry protocol as outlined by Lincoln and Guba (1985.) Its goal was to surface fundamental assumptions about and idiosyncratic language used to describe those attributes deemed critical to a preservice teacher's success. The format was flexible to allow respondents to guide and determine the final shape of the study (Goetz and LeCompte, 1984.) Interviews were tape-recorded, and transcripts re-submitted to respondents for additions, corrections, and elaborations. Interview transcripts were analyzed by a process of modified analytic induction (Bogdan and Biklan, 1982) and comparative analysis (Spradley, 1979) for recurring precepts and constructs related to personal attributes and the labels used to identify them. These were further collapsed into categories of cover and included terms, and used to construct a taxonomic model of personal attributes implicated in failure and marginality in student teachers. Initial categories which emerged were Extrapersonal, Irremediable, Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Attributes. Respondents' identified as critical the Intrapersonal and Interpersonal categories, which were further collapsed into three major attribute domains: Efficacy (including ego strength, locus of control, flexibility, and reflection) Relatedness (including empathy, self-assertion, and people-skills) and Heartfeltedness (including belief system, commitment, effort and passion.) Additional attributes identified by respondents as bridging and connecting the domains were imagination, authenticity, responsiveness and with-it-ness. Several themes emerged: 1) Respondents ascribe failure and marginality primarily to personal attributes, citing technical incompetence as causal only in combination with attribute deficits; 2) reluctance to judge subjectively produces formal evaluations that do not adequately reflect the role of personal attributes; 3) pressure to pass marginal students is seen as both cause and effect of a failure of the gatekeeping function; and 4) early identification of personal attributes likely to require and/or intractable to remediation is deemed essential.