The Theory & Research Behind Teacher Selection Methods

Theory and Research

A person’s ‘non-cognitive’ characteristics (e.g., personality and motivation) are often implicit, but expressed by the way they deal with challenging situations in real life. Another way to gain insight into these personal characteristics is to evaluate how they respond to challenging scenarios presented in a testing format. Situational judgment tests (SJTs) are a measurement method designed to assess judgment of the benefits and costs of behaving in certain ways in response to challenging contextualised scenarios. The development of SJT content is typically based on job analysis and through gathering ‘critical incident’ from those already in the job (see Figure below). SJTs can provide an indirect or implicit measure of what candidates view as appropriate ways of behaving in certain contexts. SJTs are less susceptible to coaching effects and faking than many other kinds of selection tests because they are cognitively complex and are designed to measure implicit traits (e.g., Campion, Ployhart, & MacKenzie, 2014).

Here is a description of the development steps we followed for teacher selection SJTs (from Klassen et al., 2017).


Current Research

Our current research focuses on the development and testing of teacher selection methods. Most of our initial work has been on SJTs, but we are now also developing multiple mini-interview (MMI) protocols for teacher selection.

In education, there is little validity evidence for current selection procedures. We propose using SJTs and MMIs as part of the selection process which may include a range of other information-rich sources, including tests of literacy and numeracy skills, reviews of academic background, and individual and group interviews. SJTs and MMIs do not replace other information sources, but rather complement other tools such as cognitive tests and interviews, showing high levels of predictive validity compared to other tools.


Preliminary Results

We are currently piloting SJTs in multiple sites in the UK and internationally (in Australia, Finland, Lithuania, and Malawi). Our results have now been published in peer-reviewed publications, with evidence of reliability and concurrent validity (see Klassen et al., 2014, 2017c). Our preliminary results are very encouraging: results show that our teacher selection SJTs are reliable (reliability coefficient > 0.80), valid (significant correlations with 7/8 interview criteria, and capable of differentiating between applicants (i.e., scores are near-normally distributed). Furthermore, the SJT was reviewed favourably by applicants, with high ratings for fairness and relevance (Klassen et al., 2017c).

In three minutes, Dr Kim presents how we can break the walls of ad-hoc teacher selection.

Recent Publications

Kim, L. E., Dar-Nimrod, I., & MacCann, C. (2017) Teacher personality and teacher effectiveness in secondary school: Personality predicts teacher support and student self-efficacy but not academic achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. 

Kim, L.E., & MacCann, C. (in press) Instructor personality matters for student evaluations: Evidence from two subject areas at university. British Journal of Educational Psychology.

Klassen, R. M., & Kim, L. E. (2017). Teacher selection methods: A meta-analysis. In revision with Review of Educational Research.

Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Györi, J., Alhashmi, W., Kim, L. E., Longden, K., Metsäpelto, R.-L., & Poikkeus, A. M. (2017). Cultural context and teacher characteristics: Exploring the non-cognitive attributes of prospective teachers in four countries. In revision with Teaching and Teacher Education.

Klassen, R. M., & Kim, L. E. (2017). Assessing critical attributes of prospective teachers: Implications for selection into initial teacher education programs. In D. W. Putwain, & K. Smart (Eds.), British Journal of Educational Psychology Monograph Series II: Psychological Aspects of Education (pp. 5-22). Oxford: Wiley.

Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Kim, L. E., Patterson, F., Rowett, E., Warwick, J., Warwick, P., & Wolpert, M. A. (2017). Developing a proof-of-concept selection test for entry into primary teacher education programs. International Journal of Assessment Tools in Education, 4, 96-114.

Klassen, R. M., Durksen, T. L., Patterson, F., & Rowett, E. (2017). Filtering functions of assessment for selection into initial teacher education programs. In D. J. Clandinin & J. Husu (Eds.), International handbook of research in teacher education. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Klassen, R.M., Durksen, T.L., Rowett, E., & Patterson, F. (2014). Applicant reactions to a situational judgment test used for selection into initial teacher trainingInternational Journal of Educational Psychology, 3, 104-125. doi: 10.4471/ijep.2014.07

Conference presentations

Klassen, R. M., & Kim, L. E. (2017, December). The economic benefits of selecting good teachers. Invited presentation at the World University Network DREAMS workshop, University of York.

Kim, L. E. & Klassen, R. M. (2017, August). What’s going on in a teacher’s mind? How expert, beginner, and novice teachers cognitively processes difficult classroom scenarios. Invited Symposium conducted at the bi-annual meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Tampere, Finland.

Kim, L. E. & Klassen, R. M. (2017, July). Situational Judgement Tests for prospective teacher selection: preliminary evidence. Symposium conducted at the bi-annual meeting of The International Society for the Study of Individual Differences Conference, Warsaw, Poland.

Klassen, R. M. & Kim, L. E. (2017, September). Selection methods for teachers and prospective teachers: A meta-analysis. In A. Poikkeus (Chair), Improving teacher selection methods: key challenges and steps forward. Symposium conducted at the bi-annual meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Tampere, Finland.

Klassen, R. M., & Durksen, T. L. (2016, August). Educational psychology and teacher selection: Bridging the gap between theory and practice. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Denver, CO.

Klassen, R., Kim, L., Durksen, T (2016, June). Can we measure the judgement of candidates for ITE in a reliable, valid, and a fair manner? In L. Sheridan & A. Phelan (Chairs), W(h)ither professional judgement?. Symposium conducted at the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction SIG 11 (Teaching and Teacher Education)SIG 11  (Teaching and Teacher Education), Zurich, Switzerland.

Metsäpelto, R.-L., Poikkeus, A.-M., & Klassen, R. M. (2016, June). Developing student selection for initial teacher training: Adapting the situational judgment test in Finland. Paper presented at the bi-annual meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction SIG 11 (Teaching and Teacher Education), Zurich, Switzerland.


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