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Introducing TeacherSuitability: Selecting tomorrow's teachers

Written by Liz Maxwell and Rob Klassen, Teacher Selection
12 Mar 2021
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Introducing TeacherSuitability: Selecting tomorrow's teachers

How can we choose the best candidates for teacher education? Against a background of economic uncertainty, teaching is becoming an increasingly attractive career choice—the numbers applying for Initial Teacher Education (ITE) programs are up by 35% according to recent reports (TES, September 2020). Meanwhile, the pandemic has forced many of us to work almost entirely online, and recruitment for ITE is not exempt from the pressures to avoid face-to-face contacts.

It is no surprise then, that online teacher selection has become a hot topic in recent months. Some things however, have not changed. ITE providers are perhaps keener than ever to offer places to graduates who are a ‘good fit’ for their program, who will create diversity in the teaching profession, and who exhibit the right mix of academic and personal characteristics to be effective in the classroom.  

Personal characteristics for teacher selection

So, what are the personal characteristics to look for in selection? For nearly 10 years, our team of researchers at the Teacher Selection Project has conducted rigorous international research to identify the key attributes of effective teachers, with empathy, communication, resilience and motivation found to be important in all settings, while some attributes (e.g., community relationships) may be more important in specific contexts.

Empathy & Communication

Teachers need to be skilled at listening deeply to their students and explain things clearly and in an engaging way. They need to be skilled at adapting their communication to suit the teaching moment and foster dialogue and engagement in students so they can thrive and learn. Teachers play a vital role in building respect for difference and diversity and promoting a lifelong learning mindset.

Resilience & Adaptability

Just as life is full of uncertainties and change, so is teaching. Teachers need to respond effectively to changing educational, cultural and social landscapes, to handle unexpected situations in the classroom appropriately, and to respond sensitively  to all learners, parents and colleagues.

Motivation & Commitment

We are all very aware of high attrition rates in teaching with up to 30% of teachers in some countries leaving the profession every year. Research shows that high quality selection methods can increase teacher retention, and identify those candidates that are motivated, committed, and more likely to stay in the profession.

T-Screen for screening applicants

Nearly 10 years in the making and piloted with over 70,000 teacher education candidates, the TeacherSuitability suite of online tools provides research-informed ways to select and develop new teachers. T-Screen is a contextualised situational judgment test (SJT) that presents realistic job previews so candidates get a much better understanding of what teaching will involve. Candidates view a video or text scenario, and make judgments about the appropriateness of various response options. The situations are authentic, classroom-based, and engaging. T-Screen provides an overall score for ‘situational judgment’ coupled with suggestions for improvement.

T-Screen features:

  • Video and text scenarios
  • Realistic teaching scenarios using a situational judgement test methodology
  • Online delivery to candidates on a secure platform
  • Customised content for the host institution
  • Data analysis and reporting features
  • Candidate feedback reports generated automatically

T-Select for intensive interviewing

But teaching is inherently a social profession and T-Screen alone may not provide enough information to make informed teacher selection decisions. T-Select is our solution. T-Select adopts a multiple mini-interview methodology (used widely for selection in health professions) and consists of independent stations that target specific characteristics such as professionalism, creativity, communication and motivation to teach. Typically, a candidate would experience five independent mini-interviews with five different assessors. The candidate may be asked to introduce a teaching concept using an artifact, watch and respond to a video segment, or sort a set of cards presenting challenging teaching dilemmas. Independent scores from various stations ensure high reliability and validity and can be combined with T-Screen outcomes to inform final selection decisions.

T-Select features:

  • Independent stations that can be assessed on-line or face-to-face
  • Reliable and fast on-line scoring by assessors
  • Customised for each host institution
  • Host institution and candidate feedback reports

Our approach to T-Select design is a highly collaborative one. Stations are adapted to suit the local context. On-line or face-to-face training can be provided for assessors, and resources are available for administration teams through a members dashboard. On-line scoring for assessors is also available through a secure online platform.

T-Screen and T-Select provide rich sources of evidence so institutions can select well-rounded teaching candidates who are highly suited to teaching and committed to the profession.

For more information, please contact us at info@teacherselect.org or send us an enquiry via our Teacher Selection website

About the authors

aRob Klassen has spent most of his career at the intersection of education and psychology. He has worked around the globe with partners in universities, government, and international development organisations. In addition to his university research and teaching roles as a Professor at the University of York, he is the founder of EduSelect, an educational services organisation that specialises in developing teacher selection programmes and in building simulation-based interventions for new teacher development.


aLiz Maxwell is the Research Project Coordinator and an Educational Advisor for the Teacher Selection Project (TSP) based at the University of York. Liz has worked in higher education for over 20 years in the UK, Australia, Hong Kong and the Middle East and is a qualified primary teacher.



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