Family Background of Beginning Education Students: Implications for Teacher Educators

Roger A. Stewart, Boise State University
Kenneth M. Coll, Boise State University
Richard Osguthorpe, Boise State University


Teacher education has not historically focused on the social and emotional development of teachers even though there is evidence that such variables influence student success (Jennings & Greenberg, 2009). We believe such a focus is important and we explored variables in teacher education students' families of origin that underpin social and emotional health and predict a variety of life and workplace outcomes. We administered two widely used scales to 401 preservice teachers. One scale, the Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES III), measured family of origin interaction patterns. The other, the Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST), explored family of origin alcohol use patterns. Results for both instruments showed divergences from norms with the preservice teachers exhibiting less optimal family functioning. We emphasize that the FACES III and the CAST should not be used as screening devices in teacher education but instead they could be part of a group of instruments and activities devoted to helping future teachers explore how their family backgrounds might influence their social and emotional development and thus their teaching. We discuss how counselor education, which requires a family of origin exploratory activity for counselors in training, might be used as a model for teacher education.