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Sarah Mia Obiwo Recognized with 2021 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award

Sarah Mia ObiwoAACTE is pleased to announce Sarah “Mia” Obiwo as the recipient of the 2021 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award for “Bringing Clarity to the Construct: A Content Analysis of Disposition for Urban Teaching and Learning.” The author completed her dissertation for the Ph.D. at Georgia State University, and she currently serves as assistant professor of early childhood education at the University of Memphis. She is being presented with the award at today’s virtual AACTE 73rd Annual Meeting Awards Forum.

Employing a systematic qualitative content analysis of research on teacher dispositions using social constructionism as an epistemological and analytical lens, Obiwo’s dissertation explores existing disposition research with specific attention to how the disposition construct has been conceptualized for urban teaching and learning. The results of her study bring clarity to the nature, scope, and meaning of the term disposition; address the concept of mutability, which includes the liability or tendency to change dispositions during teacher preparation; and focus on dispositions described as desirable for teaching and learning in an urban school context. Obiwo argues that a teacher’s thinking and actions work synergistically to create dispositions. Her analysis found that preservice teacher dispositional growth occurs when given opportunities to connect beliefs and values to subsequent actions in the urban classroom—opportunities that are purposefully created and aligned throughout teacher preparation.

“Dr. Obiwo has canvased the field and conducted an analysis that brings clarity to a very murky area in educator preparation. The findings of her analysis suggest that well-designed teacher preparation programs that have the ability to promote desirable dispositional change are those that engage preservice educators in a diverse range of experiential learning opportunities, not just field experiences,” said Diane M. Truscott, associate professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University. Truscott advised and chaired Obiwo’s dissertation. “Additionally, her study suggests that teacher preparation programs can do this effectively by creating learning climates and expectations where self-reflection and critical consciousness are a part of the routine and normative demands of preservice educators. Dr. Obiwo’s dissertation research is a testament to her commitment to urban teacher preparation and equity-based practices as well as her own drive to produce socially significant scholarship affecting change in schools. The work is indeed outstanding.”

“We are thrilled and proud that Dr. Sarah Mia Obiwo has received the 2021 AACTE Outstanding Dissertation Award,” said Kandi Hill-Clarke, dean and McRae Endowed Professor, College of Education, University of Memphis. “Her dissertation has great and impactful implications for the field of teacher education. We are delighted to have Dr. Obiwo as a colleague in the College of Education at the University of Memphis where she will continue expanding her research and scholarly work on teacher dispositions.” 

As the leading voice on educator preparation, AACTE represents educators throughout the United States who advance the profession through innovation, high standards and leadership. “For 25 years, AACTE has honored its member institutions, leaders, and individuals who make bold, exceptional and revolutionary contributions to our field,” said Lynn M. Gangone, AACTE president and CEO. “As the recipient of a 2021 AACTE Award, Dr. Obiwo challenges us to prepare educators to teach with equity and justice for all, and it is a pleasure to recognize her today at the Awards Forum during our 73rd Annual Meeting.”

AACTE issued a press release today announcing all of its 2021 award winners. For more information on AACTE’s awards program, visit the AACTE website.


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Katrina Norfleet

Content Strategist, AACTE