Personality traits of expert teachers of students with behavioural problems: a review and classification of the literature

Svenja Buttner, S.J. Pijl, J. Bijlstra, Els van den Bosch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Teaching students with behavioural problems is a challenge for many teachers but other teachers are able to bring out the best in these students. Much research has been done to find out what differentiates expert teachers from their less skilled colleagues. Recent evidence points to personality as an underlying core factor influencing teacher performance. This study reviewed the literature on the personality traits of expert teachers of students with behavioural problems. The studies selected report their key thoughts,
feelings, and behaviours, which according to trait theory stem from personality. Two independent raters classified the personality variables according to the dimensions of the Five Factor Model of personality: Extraversion; Agreeableness; Conscientiousness; Neuroticism; and Openness to Experience. The evidence
indicates that a teacher’s ability to teach students with behavioural problems increases with his/her levels in four of the five personality factors. No variables relating to Neuroticism were reported in the literature. Implications for follow-up research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-481
JournalThe Australian educational researcher
Volume42 (2015)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2015


  • higher education
  • students
  • social behaviour disorders
  • teaching

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