Mesila – A Selection Battery for Future Teachers

Affected by teacher education
July 25, 2018
Views on teacher education
September 11, 2018
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Mesila – A Selection Battery for Future Teachers

Selection batteries are in use today to choose the best candidates for most positions in the work force, from bank tellers to salespersons, government workers to CEO's. However, although the teaching profession has been recognized as being very complex requiring specific personality traits and interpersonal skills, a summary of worldwide selection methods for acceptance to teacher education colleges has shown that these selection processes are often based solely on a cutoff point in cognitive abilities (grade point average or SAT scores) or on a brief non-structured interview (Goldenberg, Bar Lev and Basis, 2012). In the past five years, the Ministry of Education in Israel has been trying to change this situation and has developed a non-cognitive selection battery for applicants to colleges of education.

 

 

The purpose of this selection battery is to improve the quality of our teachers by choosing the most suitable candidates for the job, while screening out the unqualified and preventing their entrance into the teaching profession. A successful selection battery must meet criteria such as psychometric qualities (reliability and validity) achieved by objective and standardized measurement tools and processes, effectiveness (cost feasibility and process improvement for both the candidates and the educational institutes), as well as fairness for the individual, including equal opportunities, multiculturalism, and diverse languages. The MESILA standardized test battery for selecting candidates for teacher education colleges was created and validated in five stages:

 

  1. Characterizing the desirable profile of a good teacher/good candidate. An in depth analysis was made to identify the characteristics to be measured and evaluated in the teacher candidate selection battery. Care was taken to define characteristics congruous with the dimensions used in later stages by the Ministry of Education to evaluate novice and veteran teachers.
  2. Development of a test battery for candidate selection. Personality and assessment tools were chosen to measure each of the characteristics identified above, using multi-trait multi-method systems. These tools include performance based exercises (individual teaching simulations, group performing task exercises, interpersonal simulations) as well as a structured interview, all rated by two raters in tandem: a psychologist and a pedagogic instructor from the colleges. In addition, personality and biographical questionnaires, situational judgement tests of classroom dilemmas and other tools are administered.
  3. A pilot study to validate the tools on 150 beginning students who underwent the entire selection battery with ratings performed by a staff of psychologists and pedagogic instructors from the colleges. Fine-tuning of tools and the test battery were based on the results of this pilot study.
  4. Implementation of the selection system. To date, over a thousand applicants to teacher education colleges have been tested by the MESILA selection battery. It has now become a requirement for acceptance for certain teaching programs.
  5. Creating a database and performing research to measure the predictive validity of the scores in the MESILA selection battery. A follow up study measured the success of the pilot study population after two years in teacher education colleges, using such criteria as college grades, classroom teaching evaluations, a special evaluation questionnaire filled out by their pedagogical instructors, as well as information of attrition from college. The results of the study show that the MASILA tests succeeded in significantly predicting scholastic success (r = 0.28), success in student teaching (r = 0.29-0.47), pedagogical instructors' evaluation questionnaires (r = 0.26) and had a negative correlation with dropout rate from studies (Goldenberg. 2018). These findings are consistent with the literature regarding the importance of examining non-cognitive aspects of candidate's suitability in addition to cognitive selection data when screening candidates for teaching studies.

 

Over the next few years, the MASILA development team will continue to follow the research populations in more advanced stages of studies, including graduation, entry into the teaching field, as well as perseverance in the teaching profession.

It is our hope that the implementation of MASILA as an objective and standardized process for the selection of candidates for teaching studies will lead to the advancement and continued improvement of the quality of our future teachers.

 

References

Goldenberg, J. (2018). Mesila: The predictive validity of a unique selection battery for candidates for teacher training. Tel Aviv: Mofet Institute

Goldenberg, J., Bar Lev, B., and Basis, L. (2012). The Selection of students for teacher training in academic colleges- a position paper. The Israeli Ministry of Education: the Division for Teacher Training.

Judy Goldenberg
Judy Goldenberg

Dr. Judy Goldenberg is a senior lecturer at the Talpiot Academic College of Education. In addition, Dr. Goldenberg is a researcher at The MOFET Institute in Tel-Aviv. Her research interests and publications are in the areas of evaluating educational programs, selection and assessment of manpower.

Judy has a PhD in Psychology from Bar Ilan University. and is a licensed Instructor-Specialist for the council of social-organizational psychology in the Israeli Department of Health. In addition, she is a senior research director for the Research Branch of the Department of Behavioral Sciences, in the Israeli Defense Forces.