Professional Disposition Procedure for Recreation & Leisure Studies Major

The development and maintenance of professional dispositions is foundational to the work of recreation and leisure practitioners. Recreation and leisure professionals work in a variety of capacities with diverse populations and must demonstrate respect, act with integrity, communicate effectively and professionally, be self-aware, and have a positive outlook. Without these characteristics, a recreation and leisure professional may be ineffective in working as a member of a team, connecting with diverse populations, and being viewed as a credible resource.

The Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, & Tourism Undergraduate Program Committee has identified the following professional dispositions as being essential to candidate success in their academic endeavors and careers:

Respect: Candidate is respectful to peers, faculty, staff, and community partners; respectfully self-advocates when appropriate; regards other individuals as being important; responds to and manages conflict with civility; is sensitive to other’s culture and individuality; demonstrates compassion and empathy in interactions with others.

Integrity: Candidate is honest, truthful, and reliable; behaviors are congruent with personal values and the values of the recreation profession; acts in an ethical and moral manner; maintains confidentiality and discretion.

Communication: Candidate is professional and respectful in written and verbal communication with peers, faculty, staff, and community partners; recognizes the need to work with and in collaboration with diverse individuals and communities; utilizes written and verbal communication to support collaboration, a professional personal brand, and civility.

Self-Awareness: Candidate recognizes and manages personal emotions appropriately; demonstrates self-confidence; realistically self-appraises personal knowledge, attitudes, skills; demonstrates a growth mindset; employs reflection as a strategy for personal growth; open to considering the wide variety of new attitudes, values, beliefs, and opinions found in diverse communities.

Positive Outlook: Candidate is approachable, cheerful, and optimistic; recognizes the successes and contributions of others; reframes obstacles as opportunities; demonstrates genuine enthusiasm and optimism regarding collaboration, diversity, and the field of recreation and leisure.

Scheduling of Dispositions Assessment

Professional dispositions are assessed regularly as candidates complete program requirements. In addition, dispositions may be assessed and reported on when candidates have engaged in specific instances of unprofessional behavior. Dispositions are assessed according to the following methodology.

Assessment Methodology

The assessment of a candidate’s status on professional dispositions focuses on value-driven conduct (i.e., observable behaviors) deemed essential to the functions of recreation practitioners; attitudes per se are not assessed (except to the extent they drive conduct). Each of the Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, & Tourism’s five dispositions are assessed via an instrument with a rubric scale and with opportunities for comments and/or reflections:

Exemplary behavior: candidate consistently (about 90%+ of the time) demonstrates behavior that reflects positive professional dispositions; behaviors are consistent with those of the most effective recreation professionals and are never deemed inappropriate.

Proficient behavior: candidate usually (approximately 75-89% of the time) demonstrates behavior that reflects positive professional dispositions; behaviors are consistent with good professional practice and are never deemed inappropriate.

Developing behavior: candidate sporadically (approximately 40-74% of the time) demonstrates behavior that reflects positive professional dispositions; behaviors are consistent with good professional practice and are never deemed inappropriate, but there is considerable room for improvement with additional experience or training.

Professionally unacceptable behavior: candidate rarely (less than 40% of the time) demonstrates behavior that reflects positive professional dispositions; behavior is not consistent with good professional practice or is deemed inappropriate.

Formal assessments of professional dispositions will take place in the following courses:

  • Foundations of Recreation & Leisure (REL 202) – completed by candidates
  • Leadership & Professional Development in Recreation & Leisure (REL 401) – completed by course instructor & candidates
  • Internship in Recreation & Leisure Studies (PRO 403) – completed by practicum supervisor & candidates

Rubrics completed by faculty and practicum supervisors become part of the candidate’s record, which is maintained in the Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, & Tourism. While it is expected that candidates aspire to exemplary behavior, proficient and developing behaviors are also considered acceptable for the purposes of completing the Recreation and Leisure Studies major. Professionally unacceptable behavior, however, may jeopardize either the candidate’s progress in, or completion of, the Recreation and Leisure Studies major.

Faculty and practicum supervisors must inform the department chairperson (or his/her designee) of any instance of professionally unacceptable behavior observed either by themselves or by community-based professionals with whom they work.

In addition to the scheduled assessment linked to required courses, college faculty, staff, or community partners must submit a written dispositional report to the department chairperson (or his/her designee) when he or she becomes aware of any candidate who engages in professionally unacceptable behavior relative to any disposition at any time. The report must include a description of the circumstances and the candidate’s behavior and refer to the “Three Levels of Professionally Unacceptable Behavior” described below. A report form will be housed on the Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, & Tourism Faculty Blackboard page.

Professional Disposition Transgression Levels and Process

Any instance of professionally unacceptable behavior, whether through faculty evaluation, practicum supervisor evaluation, or dispositional report, will be referred by the department chairperson (or his/her designee) to a departmental committee for consideration.

The departmental chairperson (or his/her designee) must notify the candidate in writing that he or she has received either an evaluation or dispositional report indicative of professionally unacceptable behavior relative to the Professional Dispositions for Recreation and Leisure Studies Candidates and that the candidate must meet with the departmental committee.

The committee must follow-up with the individual who submitted the evaluation or report to explore the rationale for their evaluation/report and must provide the candidate with the opportunity to respond to the evaluation/report and explain his or her behavior.

If the committee determines that that the candidate’s behavior was not professionally unacceptable, the committee will recommend to the chairperson (or designee) that the evaluation from a regularly scheduled assessment be modified, or in the case of a dispositional report, the committee will recommend the report be dismissed. The chairperson (or designee) will assure the candidate’s record will be amended in accord with the committee’s recommendations.

Note, for the purpose of these policies, and throughout this document, an “amended record” means that documentation pertaining to a charge of professionally unacceptable behavior is brought up to date to include final resolutions, such as committee decisions pertaining to the case and the results of any appeals. An “amended record” is not removed from the candidate’s file. Candidate files are stored under lock and key or in a password protected electronic file.

If the committee determines that the candidate’s behavior was professionally unacceptable, it must consider the severity of the behavior and the candidate’s previous history of professionally unacceptable behavior (if any) in determining a course of action. The course of action is a function of the “level” of professionally unacceptable behavior as follows:

Level 1: Ordinarily a first-time and less serious dispositional transgression. The candidate meets with the departmental committee and the discussion focuses on (1) the behavior that was observed, (2) reasons why the behavior is cause for the concern and why it is considered professionally unacceptable, (3) possible alternative behavioral responses in the future (if applicable), (4) a review of the Professional Dispositions for Recreation and Leisure Studies Candidates, and (5) a review of the Department’s policy on dispositions. The committee may prescribe some type of remedial activity (e.g., counseling, additional coursework, additional fieldwork, a volunteer experience, etc.) designed to improve the candidate’s professional disposition(s); it is possible that the prescribed activity may cause delays in the candidate’s normal progression through the program; the Department’s policy on dispositions also will be reviewed at this meeting.

Level 2: Ordinarily a second-time or more serious dispositional transgression. The candidate meets with the departmental committee and the committee reviews the candidate’s behavior, and if appropriate, the candidate’s prior dispositional history; at their discretion, the committee may prescribe some type of remedial activity (e.g., counseling, additional coursework, additional fieldwork, a volunteer experience, etc.) designed to improve the candidate’s professional disposition(s); it is possible that the prescribed activity may cause delays in the candidate’s normal progression through the program; the Department’s policy on dispositions also will be reviewed at this meeting.

Level 3: Ordinarily a third-time or very serious dispositional transgression resulting in program dismissal. The candidate meets with the departmental committee; the candidate’s behavior and prior dispositional history are reviewed, and the candidate is provided an opportunity to explain the behavior.

The intent of the Department’s policy on the assessment of professional dispositions is that instances of professionally unacceptable behavior will be addressed incrementally and educationally. In cases where the professionally unacceptable behavior is deemed to be more egregious, however, (including, but not limited to, behaviors that place the physical and psychological health and safety of others at risk; behaviors that violate existing policies of the College or a practicum placement; and/or behaviors which are illegal) candidates with first-time transgressions may be assigned directly to Level 2 or Level 3 and candidates with second-time transgressions may be assigned directly to Level 3.

Appeal of Departmental Committee Decisions

If the department committee finds a level 1 or 2 disposition transgression, the candidate will be required to complete a remediation plan with designated follow up and consequences for failure to adhere to this plan. The candidate may appeal the finding in writing within five (5) business days to the department chairperson (or designee). If the department chairperson (or designee) upholds the appeal, the candidate’s record will be amended accordingly. If the chairperson (or designee) denies the appeal, that decision is final and no further appeal of a Level 1 or Level 2 transgression to the chair (or designee) is possible. Under either circumstance, the candidate is notified in writing of the chairperson’s (or designee’s) decision. The candidate may then make a written appeal to the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) who will make a final decision regarding candidate status and notify the candidate and department chairperson (or designee).

If the department committee determines that a Level 3 transgression has occurred, the candidate is notified in writing by the committee chair of the recommendation for dismissal from the program. To appeal, the candidate must respond in writing within five (5) business days to the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) who determines if there may be appropriate appeal grounds (discrepancy in facts, findings, sanction level or due process). If so, the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) then appoints a Dispositions Review Committee to examine the facts, findings, sanction level or due process. The candidate is provided an opportunity to meet with the Dispositions Review Committee.

At the discretion of the committee, the candidate has the opportunity to bring pertinent witnesses and/or advocates to the meeting. After reviewing the facts, findings, sanction level or due process, the Dispositions Review Committee notifies the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) of their recommendation in writing. The Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) makes the final decision regarding candidate status and notifies the candidate and department chairperson (or designee) in writing. Records are maintained in the Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation & Tourism under lock and key or in password protected electronic files.

A candidate whose behavior has been found to be professionally unacceptable by the departmental committee and the Dispositions Review Committee at Level 3 and who has received a letter from the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) indicating that the candidate has been dismissed from the Recreation and Leisure Program will have five (5) business days to appeal the decision in writing to the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee). The Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) has broad discretion in considering the appeal and may (1) convene an independent panel to review the case and provide recommendations to the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee), (2) simply review the findings of the two previous committees to arrive at a decision, or (3) employ other strategies (including interactions with committee members, witnesses, and/or the candidate) to weigh the merit of the appeal. Under any circumstance, the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) is final (although the Provost retains discretion to review appeals). If the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) denies the appeal, the departmental and Dispositions Review Committee recommendations (including the candidate’s dismissal from the program) are upheld. If the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) rules in favor of the appeal, the transgression may be either dismissed or downgraded to a lower level, but in either case the candidate is restored to the program and the candidate’s record is amended. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the candidate and the department chairperson (or designee) is notified in writing of the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services’ (or designee’s) decision.

Candidate’s Rights

Candidates have the following rights pertaining to the determination of professionally unacceptable behavior relative to the professional dispositions:

  • The candidate must be notified by the instructor in writing within five (5) business days if he or she has received an evaluation of professionally unacceptable behavior on any professional disposition during a regularly scheduled assessment OR if a dispositional report has been submitted to the department chairperson (or designee) relative to the candidate’s behavior.
  • The candidate must have the opportunity to respond to the instructor in writing within 5 business days of date of initial letter of correspondence to the evaluation or report and the opportunity to explain his/her behavior to a departmental committee.
  • The departmental committee must notify the candidate in writing within (5) business days of the findings of its review, including, as appropriate, the level of professionally unacceptable behavior.
  • The candidate has the right to appeal the findings of the departmental committee in writing within five (5) business days of date of departmental committee findings to the chairperson (or designee) of the home department for Level 1 and 2 transgressions.
  • For Level 1 and 2 transgressions, the candidate has the right to appeal the findings of the departmental chairperson (or designee) in writing. This must be done within five (5) business days of date of the chairperson’s (or designee’s) findings and be addressed to the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee).
  • For Level 3 transgressions, the candidate has the right to appeal the findings of the departmental and Dispositions Review Committees in writing. This must be done within five (5) business days of the date of the written communiqué and be addressed to the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee).
  • The Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee) makes the final decision regarding the charge of a Level 3 transgression and must notify the candidate and Department Chair (or designee) in writing within three (3) business days of date of departmental/Dispositions Review Committee findings.
  • The candidate may bring witnesses and/or an advocate to the meeting with the Dispositions Review Committee for Level 3 appeals (however, only members of the College community may serve as advocates and advocates may only address the committee when answering questions directed to them by committee members).
  • The candidate may continue to participate in any campus-based classes in which he/she is enrolled during the committee’s review or, if appropriate, during an appeal to the Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services (or designee). However, the Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, & Tourism reserves the right to exclude the candidate from any field experience during the review and appeal processes.
  • Provided no other College policies have been violated, candidates who are dismissed from the Recreation and Leisure Studies program due to dispositional transgressions may pursue completion of another academic program on campus.

Note, the policies and procedures described herein pertain only to a candidate’s status as a Recreation and Leisure Studies major and are not meant to supplant existing college-wide policies or procedures. Candidates are still subject to all college-wide policies and procedures. It is expected that when candidates go through existing systems on campus (e.g., a charge of academic dishonesty, a hearing with the student or administrative conduct board, a referral to the Student Behavioral Consultant team), the department chairperson will be informed of the outcomes of those circumstances. At that time, the department chairperson may decide to submit a dispositional report on the candidate. So, individuals affiliated with the Recreation and Leisure Studies major are subject to policies and procedures as students within the College and candidates within the unit.

Recognition: The Department of Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation, & Tourism would like to thank the Professional Education Unit (PEU) and Dr. Linda Balog, Associate Dean of the Professional Education Unit, for allowing the modified use of the Policy on the Assessment of Professional Dispositions for Teacher Education Candidates.