The X Factor

Personality Traits of Exceptional Science Teachers

Clair T. Berube, Hampton University

Published 2010

American science education is in trouble. As the United States continues to lag behind other nations in science achievement, the question is asked: how can we better get our students excited and inspired by science? This is the science teacher’s duty. The irony of the education profession is that some of the most important aspects of it are the hardest to measure and replicate. The things that matter most can be the hardest to quantify. Some teachers can know the different learning styles, intelligences, and brain preferences of their students. They can know best practices of how to deliver instruction. They can do all these things and more, but still not convey imagination and passion for science to their students.

But some science teachers do inspire. These special teachers seem to possess something the others don’t, but what is it? Exceptional science teachers make us feel better about ourselves through their teaching of science, and bring us to a higher quality of life as a result, while some science teachers can be the leading researchers in their fields, yet leave us flat. What is the recipe for this unique, special teacher? And why is it so hard to explain and describe?

The objective of this book is to uncover these aspects of teaching that are so hard to measure and quantify. This is achieved through interviewing people who are either current or retired teachers, or who were positively affected by a teacher, and also through case studies of exceptional teachers in order to quantify and explain the exact traits and personality quirks of these exceptional people. The contribution to the field of education this book hopes to achieve is the examination of the question; why do some teachers have that “X” factor, what, exactly is it, and how can we all have it?

Acknowledgments. Preface. Introduction. PART I: WHAT DO THE EXPERTS SAY? 1. Teacher Dispositions/Personality Traits. 2. Teacher Self-Efficacy of Science Content Knowlege. 3. Self-Reflection and Values. 4. Affection and Caring. PART II: WHAT MATTERS 5. Our Favorite Teachers. 6. The Beauty of Science Teaching. 7. Charisma and Science Teaching Case Studies. 8. Translating These Traits to the Classroom. 9. Conclusion. Appendix. References. About the Authors

"Seeking to uncover and describe the traits of successful teachers, this book offers valuable insight into that certain something that distinguishes merely good teachers from those who deeply impact students' lives in enduring ways. Not merely a summative approach to the literature on effective teaching and best practices, this readable and informative paperback encourages educators to move beyonf statistics to seek deeper explanations for what works in science education, and why. ... Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduate, graduate, research and professional collections." D. M. Moss University of Connecticut in Choice