Those who can also teach! Study challenges the “negative selection” hypothesis.

A new study confirms something that was also already clear from the PIAAC-scores summarized in the following chart: the saying “those who can do those who can’t teach” is wrong. In the chart you can see the math-results of teachers compared to the other higher educated in their country or region. It can differ from region to region – compare Sweden with Australia, although on average both countries have similar results for their teachers but the higher educated in Sweden are better as whole – and the ‘elite’ doesn’t teach.


A new study by Henoch et al. examined the teacher candidates’ cognitive and personality characteristics and compared those to other students and used longitudinal data and differentiation between different study majors for 1400 students.

The researchers couldn’t find empirical support for the “negative selection” into teacher education hypothesis. Vocational interests (esp. social) were as important as a predictor for choice of teaching.

Abstract of the research:

Previous findings on teacher candidates’ characteristics seem to support the assumption of a “negative selection” into the teaching profession, with teacher candidates showing less favorable individual characteristics than students in other subject areas. Against the background of current concerns about the supply of high-quality teachers, particularly in the field of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the present research used longitudinal data from more than 1400 students in Germany to compare teacher candidates’ demographic, cognitive and personality characteristics with those of students in other subject areas. The study overcomes limitations in prior studies in that it (1) assessed personal characteristics before study entry in order to exclude “contamination” effects, (2) selected an appropriate control group, and (3) differentiated between STEM and non-STEM study majors. The results did not find any empirical support for the negative selection hypothesis in terms of cognitive and personality characteristics in Germany. Instead, vocational interests (especially social interests) emerged as the most important predictor of the enrollment in a teacher education program.


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Filed under Education, Research

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