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Dissertation Defense

What are Educator Dispositions?

Note: Content on this page applies to students in the School of Education only.

Assessing doctoral students' dispositions focuses on their attitudes, beliefs, interests, values, and ethics reflected in their behaviors toward those individuals with whom they interact. Dispositions continue to be one of the three evaluative areas for professional educators (knowledge, dispositions, and performances) (Council of Chief State School Officers’ Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium, 2020).  Efforts continue to group dispositions and link them to educational theories to better understand their importance (Altan, Lane, & Dottin, 2019). The School of Education will assess dispositions in five areas: learning environment, collaboration, creative and critical thinking, professionalism, and diversity.


1.     Learning Environment

Doctoral students reflect upon the importance of the learning environment as a place to share experiences and learn from others with the realization of the varied nature of learning. Flexibility and responsiveness to others' learning processes and the ability to adapt to different learning styles are important indicators of the desired disposition for doctoral students. As scholars, students must also value and seek the engagement of other practitioners through professional organizations and learning communities. Relevant dispositions include the following:

  • Creating environments of respect and rapport
  • Establishing a culture of learning
  • Designing cohesive teaching and learning experiences
  • Managing procedures and spaces to create productive learning environments
  • Demonstrating flexibility and responsiveness in learning environments
  • Respecting the learning process

2.     Collaboration

Accepting others' perspectives and constructively resolving conflicts are integral parts of collaboration. Doctoral students should have a collaborative disposition that involves all stakeholders in collectively integrating ideas for growth. Flexibility and openness when making decisions using data-driven solutions to problems is a critical disposition. Doctoral students know consideration for others' perspectives and ideas can improve best practices, thus will seek to understand those perspectives and facilitate decisions that show respect for colleagues, students, and other stakeholders. Relevant dispositions include the following:

  • Listening to and respecting the opinions of others
  • Building consensus among stakeholders
  • Implementing strategies for conflict resolution
  • Participating in local and professional communities

3.     Creative and Critical Thinking

Doctoral students must seek continuous improvement through professional service and research opportunities. Examining their position within a learning community occurs through self-reflection and continuous engagement with others to share best practices and design a positive learning environment. Critically analyzing a problem by engaging with others leads to creative solutions. Relevant dispositions include the following:

  • Analyzing, prioritizing, and acting on decisions
  • Integrating the perspectives of others
  • Being flexible, open, and responsible in decision making
  • Using data for decision making
  • Creating solutions to challenging education problems

4.     Professionalism

As professionals, doctoral students must be able to make responsible, ethical decisions and communicate those decisions while constantly self-reflecting to ensure the implementation of best practices. This comes through actively listening to the opinions and ideas of all in the community of learners before deciding upon a plan of action. Doctoral students also seek opportunities to engage in activities to improve understanding of both self and others. Relevant dispositions include the following:

  • Fostering positive work and learning environments
  • Making ethical decisions
  • Communicating effectively
  • Engaging in self-reflection
  • Participating in service opportunities and/or professional development for improvement
  • Using current research and best practices

5.     Diversity

Doctoral students realize that powerful communities are built on diversity and strive to create a sense of community building upon respect for the beliefs and contributions of all members. Actions can be implemented and conflicts resolved when there is a professional consensus and this will develop a stronger academic community. Relevant dispositions include the following:

  • Understanding the perspectives of others
  • Integrating inclusive practices
  • Using multiple strategies and modifications for learners and stakeholders
  • Interacting respectively with colleagues, students, and stakeholders

Altan, Lane, & Dottin. (2019). Using habits of mind, intelligent behaviors, and educational theories to create a conceptual framework for developing effective teaching dispositions. Journal of Teacher Education, 70(2), 169-183.

Council of Chief State School Officers’ Interstate Teacher Assessment and Support Consortium. (2020 July). InTASC model core teaching standards and learning progressions for teachers 1.0.

Rokicki, S. (2018). Dispositional transference in teacher preparation candidates. (Publication No. 107788192). ProQuest Dissertation and Theses Global.

The Danielson Group. (2013). The framework for teaching.

Dispositions Checklist for SoE Doctoral Students

Dispositions are an evaluative area for professional educators. At the conclusion of the student’s SoE degree program, the NU School of Education assesses dispositions in five areas: learning environment, collaboration, creative and critical thinking, professionalism, and diversity.

For your oral defense PowerPoint, create a Program Reflections slide per the instructions in the Oral Defense Presentation template. The preceding information in this document will help you prepare the reflections slide.

List the three areas you will discuss as bullet points on the slide. Then reflect on your NU experience and use the slide as a guide to briefly discuss how your doctoral experience has contributed to the development of your skills and abilities in any three of the five areas listed below.

Select THREE of the following professional dispositions for reflection.

[ ] Flexible, productive, respectful learning environment

[ ] Collaboration including listening, respect, consensus, and implementation in local or professional communities

[ ] Creative, flexible, open, critical thinking, resulting in analyzing, prioritizing and creating solutions

[ ] Professionalism that fosters self-reflection, communication, professional development or service, and current research and best practice making ethical decisions

[ ] Diversity in others’ perspectives, inclusive practices, respectful interaction, and strategies and modifications for learners

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