Using situational judgment tests (SJTs) in the selection process of prospective teachers

In brief

  • Non-cognitive attributes (motivation, personality, resilience, interpersonal skills) play an important role in effective teaching
  • SJTs provide a cost-effective, valid and innovative method to assess non-cognitive attributes of prospective teachers
  • Development of an SJT for prospective teacher selection is currently underway

A convincing body of evidence shows that teachers are the most significant in-school influence on student achievement. The process of selecting the most effective future teachers has implications not only for individual applicants and education systems, but for society as a whole.

Latest News

The Guardian published an article written by Professor Rob Klassen, outlining the importance of teacher selection, and exploring the latest research into the traits of successful teachers, and how this could inform recruitment. Read the full article here.

The Need to Assess Non-Cognitive Attributes

Governments all around the world are increasingly calling for non-cognitive attributes to be assessed as part of the selection process for teacher education courses. The research literature supports the governments' call as non-cognitive attributes have been shown to play an essential role in predicting positive educational outcomes.

Situational judgment tests (SJTs) present applicants with a set of hypothetical work-relevant scenarios reflecting real-life situations applicants will face in the job. SJTs are shown to be superior to conventional personality tests as the most effective format for predicting job performance in a range of professional settings. SJTs are state-of-the-art, cost-effective and well-received by applicants and selectors. The tests are now used in trainee selection in health fields in the UK, but have not yet been developed for trainee selection in education.

More about the theory and research  »

The Team and Collaborators Behind the Research

Researchers from the Psychology in Education Research Centre (PERC) at the University of York are working with Work Psychology Group to develop a reliable, valid, practical and evidence-supported SJT. Results show our pilot SJT exhibits excellent psychometric properties and is significantly correlated with interview criteria, meaning that the test may be useful for initial screening of non-cognitive attributes.  Initial results demonstrate the feasibility of the approach and provide a robust rationale for extending the work on a wider platform.

Our work has now been extended to Australia, Canada, Finland, Ireland, and Oman with a number of teacher training providers and education authorities involved in development of locally-relevant content and norms. Further development of SJTs to reflect the differential non-cognitive attributes necessary for success in primary and secondary settings is in development.

Rob Klassen - Lead Researcher

Rob Klassen

Lead Researcher

Professor and Chair
Psychology in Education Research Centre
University of York, UK


  • Tracy Durksen, University of New South Wales
  • János Györi, Eötvös Loránd University (University of Budapest)
  • Riitta-Leena Metsäpelto and Anna-Maija Poikkeus, University of Jyväskylä
  • Paula Mountford, University of York PGCE programme
  • Paul Warwick, Jane Warwick, Mary Anne Wolpert, University of Cambridge
  • Fiona Patterson and Emma Rowett, Work Psychology Group
  • Sündüs Yerdelen, Kafkas University (Kars, Turkey)