Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Early Childhood Education

First Advisor

Diane Truscott, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Chara Bohan, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Tonia Durden, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Joyce Many, Ph.D.

Fifth Advisor

Deborah Schussler, Ed.D.


Public schools in urban areas across the United States are becoming more diverse while demographic disproportionalities between teachers and students persist. This mismatch becomes problematic if teachers lack an awareness of their own perceptions, an understanding of the instructional context, and the belief that all students can learn. Urban teaching requires educators who can teach children culturally, linguistically, and economically different from themselves. Teacher educators and scholars concur that knowledge of subject matter alone does not make one an effective teacher. Teacher dispositions are also critical for effective instruction in urban schools. The triad of knowledge, skills, and dispositions has been used in teacher education, however, what exactly are dispositions? A review of literature reveals the ongoing struggle to understand the construct of dispositions, leaving the term with a variety of ambiguous interpretations.

This study examines existing disposition research with specific attention to how the disposition construct has been conceptualized for urban teaching and learning. Social constructionism serves as an epistemological perspective in order to prioritize the subjective nature of textual meaning. This study utilizes the seven stages of qualitative content analysis (QCA) as the primary method in order to systematically describe meaning not immediately apparent or understandable. In the early stages, a corpus of academic sources written by scholars in the field of dispositions and urban education are selectively chosen through rigorous database searches. The literature search process reduces the sources from 1,189 to 35 salient sources using an explicit inclusion and exclusion criteria. During the pilot stage, three inductively-build coding frames are trialed and measured using percentage of agreement and Cohen’s kappa for reliability. The main analysis stage employs the finalized coding frames to examine the corpus of 35 sources for meaning with respect to the developed categories. A computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software program, NVivo 12, is used to assist with coding. The findings of this study provide clarity on the salient concepts of the disposition construct, address the dispositional concept of mutability, and conceptualize desirable dispositions for urban teaching and learning. Implications for urban teacher education are presented and directions for future research discussed.


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