Published Online: November 3, 2015
Published in Print: November 4, 2015, as Teachers Need Balance Of Traits, Study Says

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Teachers Need Balance of Traits, Study Says

"Beyond Standardized Test Scores: Engagement, Mindsets, and Agency"

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The skills required to boost traits like persistence in students differ from the skills required to boost gains in academic achievement, concludes a study from the Achievement Gap Initiative at Harvard University.

Researchers administered more than 300,000 surveys in 16,000-plus 6th-to-9th grade classrooms during the 2013-14 school year, using an instrument called the Tripod survey to gauge school climate, student engagement, and teacher traits.

They matched what they call "agency-related factors"—defined as emotions, motivations, mindsets, and behaviors linked with personal agency—with the teaching components experienced by respondents in their classrooms. Specifically, they assessed seven teaching skills related to how much teachers care, confer, captivate, clarify, consolidate, challenge, and emphasize classroom management.

Each skill has different effects on students' success in school and in life, the study finds. Some may even have negative effects if not balanced with other teaching traits. For example: Too much care can make a student feel coddled, thus depressing academic persistence.

Because teacher training is often linked to increasing academic achievement, it's likely that some skills needed for student success haven't been emphasized, researchers said. Good teachers show a balanced array of these traits, the report says.

Vol. 35, Issue 11, Page 5

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