A majority of teachers in the study shared an occupational personality that coincided with the Holland Codes of Special Education Teachers (SET). “Social” surfaces as the strongest of six personality types (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional). Social personalities were described as emphatic and possessing strong social skills. Further studies in this area may be able to positively impact school leaders and reverse the on-going shortage of SETs.—Matt Piercy
The study aimed to answer two questions:
1) What is the personality profile of special education teachers?
2) What difference exists among special education teachers in their occupational profiles?
“Findings from the study reveal that while special educators’ overall personality profile is congruent with the Holland Codes (a theory of vocational choice based on personality type) associated with special education teachers, other features may explain participants’ choices to pursue a career as a special education teacher.”
Here are the major takeaways from the article:
- “Personality fit identifies the compatibility between a person and their profession and can influence an individual’s decision to stay or go.”
- Individuals typically continue employment when it is matched to their personality.
- Although Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (SEC) is not yet a confirmed occupational code for SETs, “a substantial body of research supports the SEC personality traits for SETs.”
- “Several research studies found that SETs have high levels of empathy and social skills.”1
- SETs identify with the enterprising personality type. Common traits of this personality type are ambitious and agreeable. Work preferences are described as persuading or directing people. “Given this finding, schools could consider increasing opportunities for SETs to express and demonstrate leadership skills to improve individual-to-profession compatibility, which can influence SET’s decisions on whether or not to remain in the profession.”
- “Given the critical shortage of SETs in U.S. public schools, this study is the first to employ the Holland Code as its theoretical model for evaluating SET personality-career profiles and its relevance to teacher retention and attrition.”
- “With the pool of SETs shrinking, understanding the compatible personality profiles of SETs could help boost recruitment, increase retention, and decrease attrition in the special education field…”
Several limitations however were noted.
For example, self-reporting was subject to bias, and the survey’s length at 252 questions could have affected responses. Furthermore, most educators in the study were in their first through fifth year of teaching. These factors may cause a question of efficacy. Most notable though was that participants in the study were from one teacher preparation program made up of mostly white females.
Scott, L. A., Bruno, L., Gnilka, P., Kozachuk, L. K., Brendli, K., & Vitullo, V. (2021). Comparing Special Education Teachers’ Personality Profile With Their Choice to Teach. Excelsior: Leadership in Teaching and Learning, 14(1), 20-35.
Summary by: Matt Piercy—Matt appreciates how at the heart of the MARIO Framework is a passion to develop relationships and a desire to empower students to uncover their purpose while building upon strengths Further, Matt is inspired by how the MARIO team supports educators and is quickly and nobly becoming a collaborative force in pursuit of educational equity.
Researcher Dr. Lauren P. Bruno participated in the final version of this summary.
- Berkovich, I. (2018). Conceptualizations of empathy in K-12 teaching: A review of empirical research. Educational Review, 72(5), 547-566. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2018.1530196
Improving our understanding of the mindsets of students with learning disabilities (LD) will permit the implementation of meaningful supports. However, a pilot study was inconclusive whether or not the growth mindset self-beliefs of students with LD were in fact false growth mindsets, wherein students were more focused on effort than more effective resources for support. — Matt Piercy
A False Growth Mindset
Goegan, Pelletier, and Daniels (2021) conducted a pilot study that explored the mindsets of grade 12 students with learning disabilities (LD). Dweck’s (1999) mindset theory1 was the guiding framework, and the authors’ interest was not limited to whether or not students adopted growth or fixed mindsets but questioned whether there would be a clear emergence of false growth mindsets in students. A false growth mindset is one that simplifies the need for support to merely putting in more effort.
The authors investigated the following three research questions:
- Do students with LD score similar to peers on measures of fixed and growth mindsets?
- Within the group, do students with LD identify more with growth or fixed mindsets?
- How do students’ self-beliefs about having LD correspond with mindset messaging?
The findings indicated that students with LD do in fact score similar to their peers on measures of fixed and growth mindsets. Yet, when compared within the group, students with LD reported significantly higher growth than fixed mindsets scores. It was inconclusive whether this growth mindset was more than simply tacitly tied to a notion of effort, or what is termed a false-growth mindset.
When students were asked to self-report on what it means to have a learning disability, two common words surfaced: “hard/harder” (31% response rate) and “work” (25% response rate). For example, “I just have to try harder.” The word “just” was linked in 9% of the responses, suggesting growth equates to effort.
An honest evaluation noted the study’s limitations. “First, participants were a homogenous group of students from one province in Western Canada.” Further, the sample size was 100 students.
Intriguing, however, was the authors’ suggestion that future research “could be conducted to examine the communication of mindsets messaging from teachers and other school personnel and how the information is adopted by students generally, and students who identify with having a LD in particular, to support the development of accurate growth mindsets.” The intention is to better understand the mindsets of students with LD, so appropriate and meaningful supports can be provided.
Though there are mixed findings relative to whether or not students with LD identify similar levels of growth and fixed mindsets when compared to their peers, the authors remain optimistic about how commonly students, without regard to disability status, are adopting growth mindsets. “Teachers should be providing messaging to all their students that they can indeed grow with effort and appropriate implementation of learning strategies and supports.”2
Goegan, L. D., Pelletier, G. N., & Daniels, L. M. (2021). I Just Have to Try Harder: Examining the Mindsets of Students with LD. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 0829573521998954.
Summary by: Matt Piercy — Matt appreciates how at the heart of the MARIO framework is a passion to develop relationships and a desire to empower students to uncover their purpose while building upon strengths. Further, Matt is inspired by how the MARIO team supports educators and is quickly and nobly becoming a collaborative force in pursuit of educational equity.
- Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality and development. Psychology Press.
- Dweck, C. S. (2007). Boosting achievement with messages that motivate. Education Canada, 47(2), 6–10.
School counselors can play a key role in developing a school-wide, trauma-informed approach to advocating for culturally and linguistically diverse students with emotional and behavioral disorders. A strengths-based, holistic approach to student goal-setting that empowers families by taking unique cultural values into account is essential. —Akane Yoshida
Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students
While traumatic stress is increasingly prevalent in children and young people, there is evidence to suggest that certain groups of culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students are disproportionately affected.1 Moreover, CLD students are more likely to have trauma compounded by the process of assimilation into a new culture, increasing the odds that they will exhibit symptoms of emotional and behavioral disorder (EBD).
In presenting their rationale for focusing on the intersectional needs of CLD students with EBD, authors Hurless and Kong (2021) synthesize existing research on trauma-informed approaches—specifically, that of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—and provide a concrete framework for school counselors to consider in communicating with families of this population.
The authors set forth their recommended framework according to the phases of an individual education plan (IEP) meeting, as follows:
Before the IEP Meeting
When offering trauma-informed counseling services prior to the IEP discussion, school counselors should adopt a “strengths-based mindset and conceptualize the student’s behaviors as a function of what has happened to them rather than what is wrong with them.” This, combined with promoting school-wide awareness of diversity, can help to establish a safe and trusting climate from which student-centered educational and emotional recommendations can be made.
Hurless and Kong make a strong case for school counselors to meet with students and their families before the IEP meeting in order to communicate the logistics and the purpose of the meeting. Furthermore, maintaining regular communication outside of such formal occasions can “provide consistency and a sense of safety between educators and families.”
During the IEP Meeting
School counselors should validate students’ cultural experiences by openly and collaboratively discussing them as an integral part of the IEP process. They must also ensure that the voices of students and their families are championed as equal partners in the process and avoid reinforcing the power imbalance that often occurs between educator and family.
After the IEP Meeting
The authors state that regular follow-up from the school counselor to families—based on each family’s preferred method and frequency of communication—is crucial.
School counselors “should continue to reflect and examine their personal cultural perspectives to address any biases that can affect the outcomes of IEP meetings,” especially given that:
“[a] truly trauma-informed approach acknowledges personal trauma in addition to the sociopolitical complexity of trauma, which recognizes the role of gender, race, class, and other cultural variables in the establishment of a system of care. Thus, cultural awareness and competence are integral pieces of effective implementation of trauma-informed approaches.”
Additionally, Hurless and Kong provide a practical list of guiding questions for building supportive relationships with families of CLD students with EBD, as well as examples of group counseling skills for IEP meetings such as active listening, scanning for nonverbal clues, summarizing, and clarifying.
Hurless, N., & Kong, N. Y. (2021). Trauma-Informed Strategies for Culturally Diverse Students Diagnosed With Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Intervention in School and Clinic, 1053451221994814.
Summary by: Akane Yoshida — Akane believes in the MARIO Approach because it puts student agency at the heart of the learning and goal-setting process. She loves how the MARIO Framework operationalizes this process and utilizes systematic measurement of student learning and teacher effectiveness to guide interventions.
- Kafer, A. (2016). Un/safe disclosures: Scenes of disability and trauma. Journal of Literary & Cultural Disability Studies, 10(1), 1-20.
Researcher Nicole Hurless participated in the final version of this summary.
Key Takeaway: Teacher attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions are critical in how they have the potential to contribute to or reduce educational inequalities. —Matt Piercy
Kate M. Turetsky, Stacey Sinclair, Jordan G. Starck, and J. Nicole Shelton (2021) investigated psychological contributors to educational inequality and the far-reaching impact of teacher psychology. Teachers’ gender-biased perceptions, fixed mindsets, and disparate assessment were all examined. Systematic factors (ie. socio-economic and racial/ethnic disparities), the broader educational system and society, and parents all factor into educational inequalities. However, a field of research is burgeoning in how teacher psychology also plays a pivotal role. Further, changing teachers’ attitudes, perceptions, or beliefs is essential.
The authors investigated two significant questions:
- Which teacher attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs contribute to educational inequality?
- How does teacher psychology exacerbate or mitigate educational inequality?
Here are the major takeaways from the article:
- Research confirms how teachers often hold more negative perceptions and expectations of students from marginalized groups but also assess them more negatively compared with advantaged groups. This disparate assessment is evidenced across several nations including New Zealand,1 Sweden,2 Brazil,3 Germany,4 and the United States.5 Patterns of such disparities, including high-stakes national exams, are evidenced by comparisons with blind evaluations.
- Teachers overestimating students led to larger gains in math standardized test scores. Whereas underestimation predicted smaller gains. These effects strengthened as students increased in age and were larger for girls of all races and also Black and Latino boys.6
- No substantive change in mathematics achievement or a narrowing of the gender gap was noted from 1999 to 2011. This is attributed to teacher gender-biased perceptions of ability between boys and girls in grade school.7,8
- The authors cite a US university-wide study where 150 STEM professors and more than 15,000 students revealed how courses led by faculty with a fixed versus growth mindset led to a racial achievement gap.9
- Focusing intervention on teachers may reduce educational inequalities even without specifically targeting students. Blind grading is one recommended strategy but also teacher training programs where high-quality instruction emphasizes the importance of engaging all students.10
Turetsky, K. M., Sinclair, S., Starck, J. G., & Shelton, J. N. (2021). Beyond students: how teacher psychology shapes educational inequality. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.
Summary by: Matt Piercy — Matt appreciates how at the heart of the MARIO Framework is a passion to develop relationships and a desire to empower students to uncover their purpose while building upon strengths. Further, Matt is inspired by how the MARIO team supports educators and is quickly and nobly becoming a collaborative force in pursuit of educational equity.
1. Meissel, K., Meyer, F., Yao, E. S., & Rubie-Davies, C. M. (2017). Subjectivity of teacher judgments: Exploring student characteristics that influence teacher judgments of student ability. Teaching and Teacher Education, 65, 48-60.
2. Hinnerich, B. T., Höglin, E., & Johannesson, M. (2015). Discrimination against students with foreign backgrounds: Evidence from grading in Swedish public high schools. Education Economics, 23(6), 660-676.
3. Burgess, S., & Greaves, E. (2013). Test scores, subjective assessment, and stereotyping of ethnic minorities. Journal of Labor Economics, 31(3), 535-576.
4. Sprietsma, M. (2013). Discrimination in grading: Experimental evidence from primary school teachers. Empirical economics, 45(1), 523-538.
5. Glock, S. (2016). Does ethnicity matter? The impact of stereotypical expectations on in-service teachers’ judgments of students. Social Psychology of Education, 19(3), 493-509.
6. Jamil, F. M., Larsen, R. A., & Hamre, B. K. (2018). Exploring longitudinal changes in teacher expectancy effects on children’s mathematics achievement. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 49(1), 57-90.
7. Robinson-Cimpian, J. P., Lubienski, S. T., Ganley, C. M., & Copur-Gencturk, Y. (2014). Teachers’ perceptions of students’ mathematics proficiency may exacerbate early gender gaps in achievement. Developmental psychology, 50(4), 1262.
8. Cimpian, J. R., Lubienski, S. T., Timmer, J. D., Makowski, M. B., & Miller, E. K. (2016). Have gender gaps in math closed? Achievement, teacher perceptions, and learning behaviors across two ECLS-K cohorts. AERA Open, 2(4), 2332858416673617.
9. Canning, E. A., Muenks, K., Green, D. J., & Murphy, M. C. (2019). STEM faculty who believe ability is fixed have larger racial achievement gaps and inspire less student motivation in their classes. Science advances, 5(2), eaau4734.
Erik de Corte describes a progression in which earlier behaviorism gave way increasingly to cognitive psychology with learning understood as information processing rather than as responding to stimuli. More active concepts of learning took hold (“constructivism”), and with “social constructivism” the terrain is not restricted to what takes place within individual minds but as the interaction between learners and their contextual situation. There has been a parallel move for research to shift from artificial exercises/situations to real-life learning in classrooms and hence to become much more relevant for education. The current understanding of learning, aimed at promoting 21st century or “adaptive” competence, is characterized as “CSSC learning”: “constructive” as learners actively construct their knowledge and skills; “self-regulated” with people actively using strategies to learn; “situated” and best understood in context rather than abstracted from environment; and “collaborative” not a solo activity.
De Corte’s work defines how learning is currently understood to be an active, self-regulated, social experience rooted in authentic context. MARIO, in all aspects, espouses this view of learning. It is fundamental to how MARIO defines the learner’s role.
Key Takeaway: Students with a deep approach to learning tend to have character traits associated with openness, conscientiousness, and a “steady temperament.” Educators can focus on fostering these traits in the classroom to increase students’ self-awareness and self-management skills, which students use to motivate themselves, set achievable personal and academic goals, and develop a growth mindset. —Shekufeh Monadjem
In the first study of its kind, the author Paulo Moreira, together with a group of researchers, investigated how different personality traits influenced students’ attitudes towards learning. The research was conducted with a study group of 686 adolescents with different approaches to learning.
Two major approaches to learning were identified—the deep approach and the surface approach.
The Deep Approach: “When a student adopts a deep approach to an academic task, this is to say that their underlying guiding intention is to maximize intellectual understanding and extract meaning from the task. There is also an intrinsic motivation to learn.” The qualities of openness, conscientiousness, and a “steady temperament” have also been linked to personalities that show a deep approach. Studies have shown a positive association between the deep approach and academic performance.1,2
The Surface Approach: Academic performance is typically lower in those students who display a surface approach to their learning.3.4 “When a student adopts a surface approach, the guiding motivation is extrinsic to the task. The resulting strategies for a given task under this approach, such as rote learning, are characterized by low investment and low effort.”
Furthemore, other traits were identified in the study group:
- Novelty seeking—seeking new experiences with intense emotional sensations
- Harm avoidance—a tendency to respond intensely to negative stimuli
- Reward dependance—a positive response and maintenance of behaviour in response to rewards
- Persistence—the tendency to continue with a behaviour despite the absence of a reward
Students identified as having a deep approach to learning showed low harm avoidance, low novelty seeking, and high persistence, as well as high cooperativeness and high self-directedness. Whereas, those that adopted a surface approach to their learning showed an opposite pattern of high harm avoidance and low self-directedness as well as neuroticism. These self-regulatory aspects of personality are important for helping students gain a more adaptive approach to learning.
Students showing high persistence in their personalities were also found to be “ambitious, enthusiastic, and tireless overachievers.”5
Because character is changeable, it can be developed and improved with the help of interventions to gain a more mature outlook. Adolescents with a mature character might be described as “responsible, resourceful, socially tolerant, empathic, principled, patient, and creative.”6 “Consequently, one practical implication of the study is that teachers and schools may be able to use character-development interventions with certain types of students, (i.e., those with a steady temperament profile) to encourage more adaptive approaches to learning and their associated positive academic outcomes.”
Mindfulness-based interventions are also an option that can be used to influence students to strengthen self-esteem and sense of mastery (i.e., self-directedness). Likewise, the results of the study also suggested that different types of interventions would be effective for students with different personality types. Educator awareness of character traits associated with deep learning allows for evidence-informed interventions focusing on fostering these traits to be harnessed in the classroom.
Moreira, P. A., Inman, R. A., Rosa, I., Cloninger, K., Duarte, A., & Robert Cloninger, C. (2021). The psychobiological model of personality and its association with student approaches to learning: Integrating temperament and character. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 65(4), 693-709.
Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem—Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enables students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.
- Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(2), 353–387. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026838
- Watkins, D. (2001). Correlates of approaches to learning: A cross-cultural meta-analysis. In R. J. Sternberg, & L. F.
- Diseth, A. (2003). Personality and approaches to learning as predictors of academic achievement. European Journal of Personality, 17(2), 143–155. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.469
- Diseth, A. (2013). Personality as an indirect predictor of academic achievement via student course experience and approach to learning. Social Behavior and Personality, 41(8), 1297–1308. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2013.41.8. 1297
- Cloninger, C. R., Zohar, A. H., Hirschmann, S., & Dahan, D. (2012). The psychological costs and benefits of being highly persistent: Personality profiles distinguish mood disorders from anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 136(3), 758–766.
- Cloninger, C. R. (2004). Feeling good: The science of well-being. Oxford University Press.