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Abstract and Figures

Preferences for who an instructor is and how he or she behaves have a substantial impact on a student’s overall experience in the college classroom. There are many variables that impact a classroom experience including the instructor, the student, and the class itself. Much research has been done in the area of undergraduate student expectations and preferences for instructors, course format, etc. This paper explores how specific student characteristics such as first-generation status, and age together with class level and format impact students’ perception of what makes a good instructor. By understanding what instructor qualities these students appreciate, instructors can tailor their behavior to improve student learning and retention. Results suggest few differences within and between these groups of students. However, students had strong preferences for a high number of positive instructor characteristics, suggesting the possibility of overly optimistic and unrealistic preferences. Implications of this and suggestions for how instructors can better accommodate the preferences of students are discussed.
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Undergraduate Students’ Perspectives of Essential Instructor
Beth A. Trammell1 and Rosalie S. Aldrich2
Abstract: There are many variables that impact a classroom experience including
the instructor, the student, and the class itself. Much research has been done in
the area of undergraduate student expectations and preferences for instructors,
course format, etc. This paper explores how specific student characteristics such
as first-generation status, age, class level, and format impact students’ perception
of what makes a good instructor. By understanding what instructor qualities
these students appreciate, instructors can tailor their behavior to improve student
learning and retention. Results suggest few differences within and between these
groups of students. However, students had strong preferences for a high number
of positive instructor characteristics, suggesting the possibility of overly
optimistic and unrealistic preferences. Implications of this and suggestions for
how instructors can better accommodate the preferences of students are
Keywords: undergraduate student preferences, first generation college students,
student instructor preferences
The importance of matching student and instructor expectations cannot be over-
emphasized. When instructors are explicit about expectations, even high expectations, students
have better academic success in the short-term (i.e., better exam grades) and long-term (i.e.,
higher graduation rates and better retention) (Blose, 1999). Taken further, it has been suggested
for more than three decades that many students drop out of college because of the gap between
their expectations for the college experience and the reality of their actual college experience
(Tinto, Goodsell-Love, & Russo, 1993). Faculty are becoming more interested in understanding
these expectations so they may enhance students’ understanding and learning of the course
material, as well as increase students’ satisfaction with courses and retention. By gaining this
understanding, faculty may be able to have more flexibility within teaching and/or adjusting
those student expectations as necessary.
The literature that explores undergraduate students’ expectations about their classroom
experience is widely varied. Some examples of mismatched expectations include student
perception of work required for class outside of class time (Hassel & Lourey, 2005), time spent
reading the textbook (Connor-Greene, 2000; Sikorski et al., 2001), the impact and amount of
instructor presence (Shea, Pickett, & Pelz, 2003), as well as characteristics of a good instructor
(Sheridan & Kelly, 2010). There are many aspects to the college experience that can impact how
1 Department of Psychology, Indiana University East, 2325 Chester Blvd., Richmond, IN, 47374,
2 Department of Communication Studies, Indiana University East
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well a student does, and although all of these expectations impact the students’ learning to some
degree, this paper will look specifically at students’ perceptions of what makes a good instructor.
The purpose of this paper is to explore what different groups of undergraduate students,
specifically: first generation versus non-first generation, students in lower-level classes versus
upper level classes, traditional versus non-traditional-aged students, online versus face-to-face
classes, perceive are qualities of a good college instructor (e.g., interpersonal characteristics,
content expertise, teaching skill. etc.).
Literature Review
One goal of instructors is to teach new information or change the way students currently
think about information. For instance, if the student has inaccurate information about a topic, it is
the role of the instructor to provide information in order to help the student understand the
concept or process more accurately and completely. To do that, one must consider two
important components to how a learner (students) receives a message from a communicator
(instructors). These include characteristics of the communicator delivering the message and the
manner in which the information is delivered. In a recent study on general education classes,
students consistently rated “communication of ideas and information” as the most important item
for high satisfaction within the course (Pepe & Wang, 2012). Along those same lines, researchers
have examined personality characteristics that define who the instructor is such as approachable,
funny, or caring (Andreson, 2000; Hill et al., 2003; Swanson et al., 2005) and the knowledge and
expertise that the instructor has (Pozo-Munoz, Rebolloso-Pacheco, & Fernandez-Ramirez, 2000).
Other studies explored the impact of instructor behaviors related to what the instructor does. For
example, does the instructor respond quickly, is the instructor organized, and so on (Chuckering
& Gamson, 1987). By pulling all of these components together, it is possible to begin to
understand the desires and expectations of students.
One interesting study asked students to “build” a professor, essentially asking students
what they believed would be ideal qualities in an instructor (Senko, Pickett, & Pelz, 2003). By
asking students to rank the professor qualities, they conceptualized traits that students found to
be “necessities” versus those that were “luxuries.” In other words, the professor qualities that
were most highly ranked were seen as necessary traits, and those of a lower rank were luxuries.
In doing this, Senko and colleagues (2012) found that students most valued enthusiasm, but also
highly valued topic expertise, clarity about successful student achievement, clear presentation
style, and reasonable workload. One quality noted in their sample as being a luxury was a
warm/compassionate personality. This suggests that when forced to choose certain
characteristics of instructors, students have varying desires of what they think is the ideal
personality and level of expertise in the instructor, as well as method of course design.
Keeley, Smith, and Buskist (2006) proposed a model of “master teaching” that attempts
to define the behavioral characteristics of instructors that are most satisfactory to students. They
created the Teacher Behaviors Checklist (TBC) to examine students’ perceptions of specific
traits and the frequency at which they see these traits displayed by their instructor. This study is
unique in that the authors provided behavioral examples for each trait. For instance, when asking
how “accessible” the instructor is, the checklist asks students to consider if the instructor posts
office hours or gives out contact information. Another trait on the checklist is
Approachable/Personable, which includes whether the instructor smiles, greets students, initiates
conversations, invites questions, and responds respectfully to student comments. Although this
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checklist gives objective, behavioral examples of instructor personality characteristics, those
examples may not be the only way in which an instructor may be accessible or approachable.
Nonetheless, Keeley and colleagues (2006) found support for studying successful teaching by
focusing on two dimensions: 1) the caring and supportive dimension, and 2) the professional
competency and communication skills dimension. Using this, we include personality
characteristics under the caring/supportive dimension, and instructor behaviors and knowledge
under the professional competency and communication skills dimension. It is this framework
that we will use to describe student preferences.
Who the instructor is (personality characteristics)
Obviously, since the instructor is responsible for most aspects of the college course,
including the “tone” of the classroom, the types of activities assigned, and interactions within the
classroom, that instructor plays a major part on the students’ learning. However, what is less
obvious is the impact that the instructor’s personality has on overall student learning and how a
student’s preferences may come into play.
Personality characteristics can be understood as innate within the instructor regardless of
the level of training he or she has in the content area. Simply, the instructor’s personality reflects
who that person is both in the classroom and outside of the classroom. Especially important in
this context are those parts of the instructor’s personality that are shared within the classroom
setting. Previous research suggests that one of the most important instructor attributes as
described by students is empathy (Jaasma & Koper, 1999), particularly as it pertains to the
busyness of students’ lives (Sheridan & Kelly, 2013). Specifically, students indicated they
appreciated when instructors were considerate of things getting in the way of students
completing work due to obligations outside the classroom (Sheridan & Kelly, 2013). This is an
important finding as many instructors may struggle to find the balance between maintaining
standards while also allowing students some leeway in terms of missing deadlines due to outside
obligations. In fact, in the majority of studies, empathy and/or caring was consistently a desired
characteristic of professors (Andreson, 2000; Hill et al., 2003; Swanson et al., 2005). Although it
is important to maintain a professional relationship with students, this suggests students desire
that relationship to maintain a real-life, caring quality as well. Borrowing from counseling
psychology, the idea of building rapport with students, showing them empathy and caring, may
be an important part of meeting the students’ needs. Even in large lecture classrooms (with
upwards of 300 students), it has been suggested that students still expect to have a relationship
with their instructor that includes empathetic responding to the individual student’s needs
(Darlaston-Jones et al., 2003).
Studies have also suggested successful instructors display a strong sense of enthusiasm
(Andreson, 2000; Lammers & Murphy, 2002; Sander et al., 2000). In addition, having a good
sense of humor (Adamson, O’Kane, & Shevlin, 2005), openness to students’ feedback, and
approachability have been noted to be important to students (Faranda & Clarke, 2004).
Instructors should also show a willingness to answer questions and have flexibility to explain
things in a number of ways to help students at every academic level (Voss, Gruber, & Szmigin,
2007). Students also report higher satisfaction with instructors who treat them with respect and
build strong interpersonal relationships with them (Faranda & Clarke, 2004).
Taken together, traits such as caring, enthusiastic, approachable, inspiring, fair, well-
prepared and helpful are some of the most common traits reported to be desirable (See Buskist,
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Sikorski, Buckley, & Saville, 2002). In general, it seems that students simply want professors
who are genuine people. This is not to say that having strong teaching skills and expertise in the
content area are not important; rather, these things appear to be often overlooked by students so
long as the instructor is genuinely interested in their learning (by displaying outward empathy,
caring, enthusiasm). Without some level of knowledge and competence in the content area, the
instructor would be nothing more than a peer in the class with the students. Instructor
competence and expertise is discussed in the following section.
What the instructor does (Instructor behaviors and knowledge)
Even if an instructor has ideal personality characteristics and is knowledgeable in the
content area, without organizational skills, the students are almost always unsatisfied with the
course (Shea, Pickett, & Pelz, 2003). Particularly in the online classroom, well-developed
organizational skills are a must. When students do not have a scheduled class time to arrive on
campus (inherently providing organizational structure for them), they are likely to get lost in the
cyber world without class organization (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004). Even in the seated
classroom, it has been noted that organizational skills are highly valued by students (Pepe &
Wang, 2012), as it makes the communication of knowledge from instructor to student more fluid.
Beyond maintaining organization throughout the course, the way in which the course is
organized is also of utmost importance. It has been suggested that many college-level instructors
are unaware of the importance of course design:
“Much of the creativity and power in teaching lies in the design of the curriculum: the
choice of texts and ideas which become the focus of study, the planning of experiences
for students and the means by which achievement is assessed. These define the
boundaries of the experience for students.” (Toohey, 1999, p, 45).
Recently, a tool was established to clearly outline course design and organization for instructors.
Quality Matters provides instructors with training on how to streamline course design to improve
student learning, engagement, and satisfaction in online learning environments (Legon & Adair,
2013). By applying the Quality Matters rubric, a method for applying quality standards to course
design based on research (Ramsey, 2000), instructors are creating a more organized environment
for student learning. Although the rubric was intended to be used within online classes, most
face-to-face classes use some form of learning management system (i.e., Moodle, Canvas,
Blackboard, etc.) that is online for assignments, tests, quizzes, gradebook, etc. As such, the
Quality Matters rubric could be a good place to start to organize even face-to-face classes.
In addition to being organized, students need instructors who provide prompt feedback on
their work. Students are equipped to learn more quickly and efficiently when having a sense of
what they are doing right and a means by which they can correct that which they are doing
wrong (Hounsell, 2003). Responding quickly to students about their performance is the best way
to help learn new information because if feedback is not given quickly, it allows more time for
the wrong information to be held and can be more challenging to correct. According to
Chuckering and Gamson (1987), one of the most highly recognized models for undergraduate
education, prompt feedback is listed as one of the seven principles for good practice in higher
education. It should also be noted that a lack of feedback can increase a student’s frustration and
level of anxiety, particularly in online courses (Hara, 2000).
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Instructor competence and expertise, including teaching skills and pedagogy, have been
linked to overall student satisfaction and student learning (Voss, Gruber, & Szmigin, 2007). As
mentioned, although it is important for instructors to have positive personality traits, it is
imperative that they are competent and have at least a minimal level of expertise in the content
area and the competence to deliver that expertise to others. Most instructors receive advanced
training in a content area (either Master’s or Doctoral training) which gives them the content
knowledge required to teach a certain course. What is not necessarily gained during an
instructor’s graduate training is how to transmit that information via teaching methodologies to
novice learners. Reneau (2011) reviewed the literature on activities during doctoral training that
support junior faculty in effective teaching at the college level and suggested five key activities
including 1. Taking a course or seminar on college teaching, 2. Teaching a class, 3. Mentoring
(e.g., receiving feedback on teaching, discussions about teaching philosophy), 4. Self-reflection,
and 5. Opportunities to engage in all aspects of research and developing a range of teaching
skills. Even with the availability of teaching assistantships in graduate training, these positions
are not necessarily intended to give the graduate trainee the supervision and skills-training to be
a good instructor (Silverman, 2003). Thus, it leaves instructors with little, if any, formal training
on how to actually go about being a good instructor (Utecht & Tullous, 2009).
As the climate in higher education continues to adapt, nearly two decades ago it was
suggested there be a shift from an “Instruction Paradigm”, whereby instructors conduct lectures
solely as a means to transfer knowledge from instructors to students, to a “Learning Paradigm”
whereby instructors are charged with providing an enriching environment that “elicits student
discovery and construction of knowledge” (Barr & Tagg, 1995, p. 16). This shift requires strong
knowledge and competency within the area of teaching, as well as strong teaching skills. This
same idea was first introduced by Shulman’s work of K-12 teacher knowledge in the 1980s,
suggesting good teachers require both subject knowledge and pedagogical knowledge (Shulman,
1987). Shulman described pedagogical content knowledge as the most useful, most regularly
taught information within the subject area (e.g., the most representative examples,
demonstrations, research studies, etc.). This same idea can be transposed onto the undergraduate
classroom. It can be understood as a skillset unique to teachers who take content, organize it and
communicate it to others through a pedagogical process so the learners can comprehend it (Major
& Palmer, 2002). In short, although students want professors who are genuine people, they also
highly value instructors who have competence and expertise (Pozo-Munoz, et. al., 2000). With
this, we will now explore student characteristics that may impact what they prefer in instructors.
Student Characteristics and Class Format Impact Preferences
Intuitively, it is likely that there are individual differences within students that impact
individual preferences for qualities of instructors. Although literature studying first-generation
college students is growing, there is still little that is known about how these students may be
different with regard to their preferences for ideal instructors. Notably, since first-generation
college students’ parents do not have experience in college classrooms, it’s possible that first-
generation college students’ preferences may be unrealistic. Also, it may be true that students in
introductory courses have different preferences than students in advanced courses, as they have
had more experience in college (in addition to interaction with instructors) that may impact those
preferences. Beyond that, it may be less about course level and more about age of the student.
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Finally, since online students have less, if any, face-to-face contact with their instructor, it is
possible that this impacts their perceptions of quality instructors.
First generation students. First generation students have been defined as students who
have parents that have had no more than a high school education, thus, the student was a member
of the first generation in the immediate family to attend college (Warburton, Bugarin, & Nunez,
2001). First generation students may be particularly vulnerable to skewed expectations of the
college classroom because their parents may not be able to guide them. In a comprehensive study
by the National Center for Education Statistics, results suggested first-generation college
students were more likely to drop out of college early and/or transfer to a different university
prior to obtaining their degree (Warburton et al., 2001). Indeed, students whose parents attained a
bachelor’s degree (or higher) were more likely to complete their degree than students whose
parents did not attend college (Warburton et al., 2001). This suggests that in some way, the
expectations these students have for college classes, college professors, and/or what the college
experience is somehow skewed in such a way that they are less successful than their non-first
generation counterparts. Another study noted that first generation college students engaged in
lower academic engagement, including interacting with faculty (Soria & Stebleton, 2012).
Collier and Morgan (2008) proposed a conceptual model of student success to include
understanding the college student role in addition to mastering course content. They propose that
much of what college entails is not necessarily fully encompassed in the content of what students
learn in their courses; rather it is in the process of learning how to learn in the college classroom.
For instance, learning how to interact professionally with the instructor; how to manage the
expectations of multiple professors in a single semester; and how to navigate technology in their
courses can be quite challenging for students. None of these are directly related to the content of
most courses, yet most instructors would argue are a “requirement” to do well in their course. In
fact, anecdotal evidence suggests many instructors expect that their students already know how
to do these things and thus do not spend class time devoted to teaching these things explicitly. In
their model, Collier and Morgan argue that first generation college students are particularly
susceptible to misunderstandings in what the student role entails due to lack of parental modeling
(2008). For instructors teaching classes with many first-generation students, it may be necessary
to spend more time teaching students how to be successful college students, as well as how to
learn the content of that specific course. Therefore, the following hypothesis is posited:
H1: First-generation students will have different perceptions of what qualities make a
good instructor than non first-generation students.
Class level expectations. For decades, it has been suggested that college students undergo
a number of changes from their freshman year to their senior year. Studies have examined
college impacts how the college student experiences changes in attitudes, values, thinking skills,
and personality (Lehmann, 1963; Pascarella & Terenzini 2005; Webster, Freedman, & Heist,
1962). This suggests that as the student matures from their first year to their third or fourth year,
they may have varying preferences and expectations of their instructors as well. It has been
suggested students move from attitudes at the beginning of their college career whereby they
were expecting “received knowledge” – where instructors impart knowledge to them (For a
review, see Redish, Saul, & Steinberg, 1998). Students then move toward a more sophisticated
attitude whereby information is provided by the instructor, but that this information is still up for
acceptance and interpretation from the learner (Redish, Saul, & Steinberg, 1998). All of this
suggests students within lower-level courses may have different expectations of the instructor
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(lower-level students may expect higher levels of content knowledge, expertise, than their upper-
level counterparts). Therefore, the following hypothesis is posed:
H2: Students in 100 and 200-level classes will have different perceptions of what
qualities make a good instructor than those in upper level classes.
Age. It has been suggested that there are metacognitive differences between students who
are traditional age college students (18-23 years of age) and those that are non-traditional (24+
years) (Justice & Dornan, 2001). These changes may impact what types of preferences
traditional students have from those that are older. A recent exploratory study suggested older
students emphasize a desire for instructors to be more knowledgeable, rather than personable
(Hill & Christian, 2012). However, it was also noted that students preferred a balance between
instructor competence and positive personality traits. Another study noted traditional-aged
students described ideal instructors as fun/funny, engaging, not overly challenging, and having
active instructional activities (Strage, 2008). Alternatively, the non-traditional students in that
sample wanted instructors who were more rigorous, serious, and encouraging preparation for
“real life” experiences (Strage, 2008). Because there is limited research in this area as well, we
pose the following research question:
RQ1: Is there a difference between traditional and non-traditional students regarding
which teacher qualities they find important?
Class format expectations. Since the early 1990s, as technologies continue to improve for
online education, the proposition that online education differs from traditional seated classroom
learning has been an ongoing debate. Opponents of online education argue there can be no
replacement for the face-to-face interaction that students get from the live interaction with
instructors; whereas proponents of online education argue online education can be as effective if
certain course design elements are met (Hadidi & Sung, 2000). From the student perspective,
most students enroll in online classes because they are attracted to the flexibility of learning on
their own time (Song, Singleton, Hill, & Koh, 2004). Among other things, frequent
communication and prompt feedback from instructors was a clear expectation from the online
learners (Mupinga, Nora, & Yaw, 2006). Interestingly, Mupinga and colleagues found that
students expected the online course to be similar in rigor and demand as the traditional face-to-
face courses.
To this point, many qualities of the instructor have been discussed that may be
challenging to witness without face-to-face interaction. Even with video or audio lectures in the
online classroom, it is quite difficult to replicate the minor social nuances that occur in live
discussion in the classroom. Nonetheless, little research has been done on whether or not
students’ expectations vary based on class format. Because there is limited research in this area
we pose the following research question:
RQ2: Is there a difference based on class format (online, face-to-face, or hybrid) in
student perceptions of what qualities makes a good instructor?
Participants and Procedures
Participants (n=132) were drawn from undergraduate students at a small Midwest
university. Participation was voluntary. Some participated to fulfill a course research
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requirement where an alternative assignment was available if they chose not to participate.
Others participated to receive extra credit (this distinction depended on the course instructor).
Participants did not receive compensation. The participants were instructed to visit a web address
where they completed the online survey on their own. The sample was composed of 100 females
(75.8%) and 32 males (24.2%), ranging in age from 18 to 64 (M=25.36, SD=9.53). The majority
of the sample was Caucasian (88.6%). Of the participants 52 (39.4%) were first generation.
There were 90 students aged 18-23 (traditional) and 42 students 24 years or older
(nontraditional). Many students indicated that they take more in-person classes (n=78, 59.1%)
than online (n=41, 31.1%) or hybrid courses (n=13, 9.8%).
After informed consent was obtained participants were asked to complete questions
adapted from the University Students’ Expectations of Teaching (USET) questionnaire created
by Sander et al. (2000). Additionally, participants answered demographic questions and
questions related to year in school, first generation status, class format of most classes taken and
currently taking, and teacher qualities. Participants were asked to respond to the following
prompt: What do you believe to be the essential qualities of a good teacher for your course?
for each of the 11 teacher qualities (e.g., A good instructor should be approachable; A good
instructor should have strong teaching skills, etc.). Their responses were measured on a 5 point
Likert scale ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. They include questions about
teacher approachableness, teaching skills, enthusiasm, knowledge, organization, and
responsiveness whereby important qualities for an effective instructor and higher scores indicate
greater agreement (see Table 1). The Cronbach’s Alpha for the 11 item Likert scale was .944.
The questionnaire was anonymous (Survey Monkey).
Table 1. Mean and Standard Deviation for Teacher Quality Scale
Standard Deviation
Strong Teaching Skills
Positive Outlook
Knowledgeable about the course content
Knowledgeable about technology
Quick email/phone call responses
To address hypothesis 1, which predicted that first-generation students would have
different perceptions of what makes a good instructor than non-first generation students was
tested with one-way analysis of variances (ANOVAs). There was not a significant difference
between first generation students and non-first generation students for any of the teacher
qualities (see Table 2); therefore, H1 was not supported.
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Table 2. First-Generation vs. Non-First Generation Students and Teacher Qualities
Significance (p-value)
Strong Teaching Skills
Positive Outlook
Knowledgeable about the course content
Knowledgeable about technology
Quick email/phone call responses
Hypothesis two predicted there would be a difference in opinion of qualities of an
effective teacher depending on the level of the class they were taking (e.g., 100, 200). A one-way
ANOVA was used to test for differences among the class levels and again, no significant
differences were found (see Table 3). Therefore, H2 was not supported.
Table 3. Level of Class and Teacher Qualities
Significance (p-value)
Strong Teaching Skills
Positive Outlook
Knowledgeable about the course content
Knowledgeable about technology
Quick email/phone call responses
An independent samples t-test was conducted to determine if traditional and
nontraditional students differed in the teacher qualities they found important (RQ1). There were
two significant differences found. There was a significant difference for teacher enthusiasm,
t(121)=2.81, p<.01, between traditional students (M=3.61, SD=1.72) and nontraditional students
(M=4.51, SD =1.54), with an effect size of .551 (Cohen’s d), which is considered large. There
was also a significant difference for teacher responsiveness, t(125)=-3.03, p<.01, between
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traditional students (M=4.36, SD=1.51) and nontraditional students (M=3.46, SD=1.66), with an
effect size of .567, which is again, is considered large.
The second research question addressed if there was a difference in perception about
what teacher qualities were essential to be a good instructor depending on how the class was
delivered (i.e., online, face-to-face, or hybrid). One-way ANOVAs were performed with how the
class was delivered as the independent variable and the teacher qualities as the dependent
variables. The only significant difference was found for organization, F (2, 115) = 3.26, p = .04.
Post hoc comparisons using the Tukey HSD test indicated that the mean score for on-campus
format (M=4.64, SD=.62) was only approaching a significant difference at p=.067 with the
online format (M=4.88, SD=.33), and neither were statistically different for the hybrid method of
course delivery (M=4.57, SD=.534). Taken together, these results suggest that organization is
considered an equally important teacher quality across methods of course delivery.
Despite anecdotal suggestions that students within various groups have different
expectations of what to expect from instructors, results here suggest different groups tend to have
similar expectations of their college professors. There were no significant differences in what
students in lower-level classes expected from their instructors compared to upper-level classes.
Similarly, first-generation college students appear to have similar expectations of their
instructors as non-first generation college students. Thus, it does not appear to be as complex a
picture for instructors of multi-level courses.
One thing that is striking is the overall expectation that students have of instructors.
Results here suggest students have high expectations for instructors to have many positive
personality traits, as well as strong teaching skills and content knowledge. Students from this
sample reported strong agreement with wanting an instructor who was approachable,
enthusiastic, positive, knowledgeable (about content and technology), organized, consistent,
friendly, quick to respond, and strong teaching skills. Together, this may suggest that students
have unrealistically high expectations for instructors. Taken further, if expectations are
unrealistically high, it is likely that instructors will not meet those expectations of students, only
leaving those students to be disappointed and/or unsatisfied with the course.
One surprising finding was the low desire for the teacher to be empathetic. This
challenges what is currently suggested in the research. One possible explanation for this finding
may be the students’ lack of understanding of the term. Perhaps it would be more fruitful in
future studies to provide examples of each quality instead of just naming them.
Another interesting finding is that students within the online classroom did not have
different preferences for instructors than did those in traditional face-to-face classrooms. Their
expectations for strong personality characteristics was still high. This is of particular note
because it can be more challenging for instructors to show personality traits, strong teaching
skills, and interpersonal enthusiasm within the online forum (Smith, Ferguson, & Caris, 2001).
Online instructing presents the unique challenges of maintaining organization as well as
expressing one’s personality. Implementing interactive technology such as chat rooms and video
conferencing may prove advantageous in establishing a more personal instructor/student
Results here suggest a significant difference regarding organization, but all other
instructor qualities were preferred from students regardless of the delivery. As such, it is critical
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that instructors are able to show students they are approachable, enthusiastic, positive,
knowledgeable (about content and technology), consistent, friendly, quick to respond, and strong
teaching skills. This is somewhat inconsistent to previous research that suggested empathy and
friendliness to be more important (Sheridan & Kelly, 2010). Implications for this include being
more aware that pedagogical ideas may be as important as interpersonal factors. With this
evidence to suggest there may be high expectations from all types of students, it is critical that
faculty obtain training about how to develop strong, organized courses, in addition to allowing
their personalities to shine through. Shea and colleagues (2003) argued for faculty development
in instructional design to impact both student satisfaction and learning.
Limitations of this study include having a disproportionate number of female student
respondents (~76%). Research suggests there are differences in gender related to desired teacher
qualities (Minor, Onwuegbuzie, Witcher & James, 2002). For example, men tend to endorse
teacher characteristics associated with being an effective classroom manager more than women
(Minor et al., 2002). Because the sample is overwhelmingly female these results cannot be
generalized to male college students. Similarly, the sample here was mostly Caucasian and may
not be representative of preferences for students from other ethnic backgrounds. As with many
survey studies, a convenience sample was used and data was collected at only one point in time.
It would be beneficial to collect data from a randomly selected sample and follow them
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course need to be cognizant of the qualities students prefer and students need to be made aware
of realistic professor/instructor characteristics.
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... Most previous studies investigating students' perceptions of instructors focused on faceto-face class environments (e.g., Ford, 2020;Heo et al., 2020;Johnson & LaBelle, 2017;Millares, 2019;Perera et al., 2020) or involved students without looking at whether they were first-time online learners (e.g., Kara & Can, 2019;Trammell et al., 2016;Welch et al., 2015). There is a general dearth of knowledge regarding first-time online students' expectations of their online instructor. ...
... Generally, scholars identify various significant characteristics of a good instructor, such as being approachable (Ford, 2020;Millares, 2019;Johnson & LaBelle, 2017), confident (Ford, 2020;), authoritative (Raufelder et al., 2016), creative, and interesting (Badrolhisam et al., 2019;Heo et al., 2020;Perera et al., 2020). Other characteristics include encouraging and caring for students (Ford, 2020;Johnson & LaBelle, 2017), being an effective communicator (Said, 2018), appearing to be enthusiastic about teaching (Trammell et al.,2016), remaining flexible and openminded (Perera et al., 2020), and acting as a good listener (Perera et al., 2020). In terms of being an excellent online instructor, one major characteristic is the ability to provide multiple ways for students to learn (Keetch, 2014;Tonsing-Meyer, 2012), including using technology tools (e.g., videos) and engaging students with different learning styles in much the same way as would occur in a face-to-face classroom (Keetch, 2014;Tonsing-Meyer, 2012). ...
... If their expectations of the instructor are met or exceeded, they are more likely to rate a higher level of satisfaction with the course and are more willing to take additional courses with this instructor (Gigliotti, 1987). In return, if the instructors can understand their students' expectations, they can adjust their teaching according to students' needs and thus enhance student learning (Trammell et al., 2016). ...
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... Open communication, helpfulness, and attentiveness are highlighted by Schussler et al. (2021) as important characteristics of instructors who create supportive class environments. Similarly, Keeley, Smith, and Buskist (2006) demonstrate that students value two key dimensions of teaching behavior: (1) caring and supporting, and (2) communicating competency; and Trammell and Aldrich (2016) show how staff empathy contributes positively to rapport with students. ...
... This is a significant gap, since identities have been demonstrated to be highly salient in both research on, and the experiences of, human interactions and relationships in many social contexts (e.g., McPherson, Smith-Lovin, and Cook 2001), including higher education. To begin to fill this gap, Trammell and Aldrich (2016) explored whether US students with certain identity characteristics (e.g., first-generation status, age, course level) preferred specific teacher behaviors. Their research did not uncover variation among students in different identity groups, but Baik, Larcombe, and Brooker (2019) found differences across disciplines when they surveyed Australian university students about the teaching practices that contributed to student well-being. ...
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Research consistently demonstrates that the quality of student-staff interactions matters for positive student outcomes. Some research studies also suggest that identity similarities (homophily) often contribute to meaningful human connections. Yet, the influence of student and staff identities on teaching and learning in higher education is less explored. We report on how undergraduate students and staff at one US university perceive the impact of identities on student-staff classroom relationships. Four themes emerged from our analysis: (1) Shared interests may be more important than shared identity for some students and staff; (2) Students’ year of study influences their views on staff identity and student-staff relationships; (3) Identity homophily is a point of connection for some students and staff; (4) Discussing identity, without identity homophily, can lead to positive course-based connections. The first three of these themes align with existing literature, but the fourth theme extends previous research, and we focus on exploring how for some students, discussing identities may be more important than matching identities when interacting with academic staff.
... Yet, while perceptions of safe learning environments can point to ideas of effective teaching (Danielson 2013;Soares and Lopes 2020;Finefter-Rosenbluh, Ryan, and Barnes 2021;Stronge 2018;Trammel and Aldrich 2016;Wood and Su 2017), there continues to be an increased interest in how they are realised and problematised in different education settings (e.g., Ayub, Yazdani, and Kanwal 2020). Indeed, recent literature illustrates discrepancies in student and teacher views of teaching in non-western higher education contexts. ...
... Acknowledging the complexity of cross-cultural differences in learning contexts (Cheah, Diong, and Yap 2018) and recognising that Asian education settings are yet to be extensively explored in this regard, the current study aims to explore teacher and student notions of safe learning environments in Indonesian vocational settings. Recognising how classroom environments have been associated with teaching effectiveness (highlighting the need to make students feel safe, respected and valued to enhance educational experiences (Danielson 2013;Soares and Lopes 2020;Sofyan, Barnes, and Finefter-Rosenbluh 2021;Stronge 2018;Trammel and Aldrich 2016;Wood and Su 2017)) the current study is supplemented with Faranda and Clarke's framework of teaching effectiveness (Faranda and Clarke 2004), seeking to portray the complex affective-effective educational processes in the Indonesian vocational space. ...
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Numerous studies have discussed the ethics of care and safe learning environments in relation to educational experiences. Yet, there is a dearth of literature on such aspects in vocational, non-western higher education contexts. This paper examines how students and teachers view entanglements of the ethics of care and safe learning environments in forming notions of teaching effectiveness in Indonesian vocational higher education settings. Utilising interview data from students and teachers in Indonesian higher education vocational institutions, the study draws upon Hofstede et al. Dimensions of National Cultures and Faranda and Clarke's framework of effective teaching. The findings illuminate balanced power distance, communicative participation and pedagogy of care as fundamentals of the ethics of care that correspond with notions of safe learning environments to inform effective teaching in the Indonesian higher education vocational space. Illustrating social-educational contestations in the vocational classroom, implications suggest the need to minimise the existing large teacher-student power distance and transform the role of teachers as 'object-givers' and students as 'object-takers' into caring partnerships that promote vocational knowledge and practice. The study holds promise for educators, teacher educators and policymakers seeking to buttress support for ethical caring initiatives to enhance teaching effectiveness in the vocational non-western space.
... The role of curriculum design and organised instruction is identified by Shea, Pickett and Pelz (2003) as the highest-rated feature of effective instruction. Trammell and Aldrich (2016) further reiterate that course organisation and how this organisation is maintained are important. Some participants in the current study commented on the methodical and organised manner of their instructors: ...
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We, as editors, are pleased to introduce this book, which serves as a scholarly platform for a collection of research papers exploring the significance of Language Teacher Psychology and emphasizing the crucial role of teachers. The study of language teacher psychology delves into the psychological factors that impact the teaching and learning of a second language. This includes examining the attitudes, beliefs, and emotions that language teachers hold, as well as the influence of these factors on their instructional practices. In language learning, teachers play a crucial role in shaping students' attitudes, motivation, and engagement. Thus, it is essential for language teachers to possess a thorough understanding of both the language they are teaching and the psychological factors that impact language learning. Key factors that can affect language teacher psychology include their language learning experiences, cultural and individual beliefs, and their sense of efficacy in the classroom. Understanding these factors can assist language teachers in creating a positive learning environment that enhances students' language acquisition and success. In spite of the indispensable role that teachers assume in the realm of education, the majority of research in language learning psychology has predominantly concentrated on learners. Such neglect of teachers' psychological dimensions is tantamount to overlooking the needs of learners themselves. The psychological aspects encompassing teachers' well-being, resilience, motivation, and other influential factors are of utmost significance. In essence, the impact of teachers cannot be understated. The objective of this book is to offer a distinctive platform, uniting research endeavors pertaining to the psychology of language teachers, thereby providing a forum for their contributions to be heard. As editors, our primary objective is to comprehensively address an extensive array of topics pertinent to teachers, including emotions, agency, identity, burnout, self-concept, and self-efficacy. This book represents the culmination of a collaborative endeavor involving scholars from diverse regions across the globe. We extend our sincere gratitude to the reviewers, members of the international editorial board, the publisher, and those involved in the technical aspects, as this book is a testament to their collective efforts. It is a product of teamwork, and we express our appreciation to all who contributed throughout each stage of its development. We trust that the research papers contained within this book will provide valuable insights and captivating reading material for you.
... suggest that the EFL teacher should not only be proficient in their career, but also should have a social and psychological rapport with the students. This is similar to the results of Trammell and Aldrich (2016) in the USA where they found that students wanted instructors who were 'approachable, enthusiastic, positive, knowledgeable (about content and technology), organised, consistent, friendly, quick to respond, and [have] strong teaching skills' (p. 23). ...
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Drawing from mainstream psychology, research in L2 motivation started in 1959 with the work of Gardner and Lambert (1959). Since then, the field witnessed major developments, looking at the language learner’s motivation from different angles: the cognitive, the social psychological, and the temporal. One of the models that looks at the language learner from a more holistic perspective is Zoltan Dörnyei’s L2 Motivational Self System (L2MSS) (2005, 2009a). The model examines motivation through three components: the Ideal L2 Self, the Ought-to Self, and the L2 Learning Experience. Any or all these components can enhance the learner’s L2 motivation. This study explores the factors affecting L2 motivation in university students in Egypt from Dörnyei’s theoretical perspective. It uses qualitative methods within an interpretivist/constructivist approach. 20 first-year university students from one higher education institution participated in the study. All participants responded to a qualitative questionnaire which focused on their motivation for English language learning. Subsequently,12 of them agreed to participate in an interview. Data were analysed using Braun and Clarke’s (2006) Thematic Analysis both deductively and inductively. The findings demonstrate that the participants were motivated by all three components of the L2MSS in different levels. Nevertheless, the dominant motivator was the L2 Learning Experience, with special attention to the role of the instructor. Various elements in the study underpin its significance. First, this study explores L2 motivation using the L2MSS as a model for the first time in a qualitative study in Egypt. Second, the study corroborates recent research exploring the overlap between the Ideal and the Ought-to Selves in the learner’s perspectives. Third, this research not only demonstrates the significance of the L2 Learning Experience as a driver for L2 motivation, since it was the least researched component in the model, but also as a factor that can enhance/inhibit the other two components: the Ideal and the Ought-to Selves. The L2 Learning Experience is the dominant motivator according to the findings of the study, and this is supported by the salient role of the instructor. Furthermore, the study highlights the significant role of emotions in reflecting student motivation or demotivation. The findings may help policy makers, curriculum developers and instructors gain a deeper understanding of the different motivators at play in the perception of their students. This in turn can contribute to the creation and development of a better L2 learning environment for the learners.
... First, not only were several expectations of the students unrealistic -such as the desire for young faculty with decades of experience in the industry -but many were rather unattainable, such as those related to gender or personality traits. Age and gender are rather immutable, and personality changes are not easily attainable in professional development spaces (Trammell and Aldrich 2016). We suggest that interested administrators and faculty focus instead on those areas that can be affected, to bring the faculty closer to students' expectations. ...
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Advertising departments in universities worldwide must grapple with a fast-changing industry that continues to redefine itself amid technological change and disruption. It is a reality that has prompted extensive discussion among researchers, educators, administrators, and advertising practitioners. There have been workshops addressing the need to consider the skills and qualifications of the contemporary advertising professor. However, left out of the conversation are the students, and thus their expectations about their instructors remain largely unknown. How do students imagine the ideal advertising professor? What qualities are they looking for? What do they want to learn, and how do they envision their relationship with their advertising professors? We explored students’ mindset using the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET), obtaining rich insight into their thoughts, feelings, and expectations about the ideal advertising professor. The study can serve as a tool of reflection for advertising educators about their teaching practices, and of assessment for advertising departments during hiring and promotion.
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Background The qualities of medical teachers in accordance to the Rhetorical and Relational goal theory have been aforementioned in literature several times. However, additional qualities have since evolved due to the ever changing field of medical education, which requires further exploration. Methods This was a convergent mixed method study in which the quantitative and qualitative strands were run concurrently at Shifa Colleges of Medicine and Dentistry, Islamabad. Quantitative tool was a pre-validated survey which was adopted after slight modification according to the local context. For the qualitative component, four focus groups were conducted, two each from Shifa colleges of medicine and dentistry respectively. Quantitative study sample included 212 students, while qualitative component included 24 students. Qualitative data was analyzed with the aid of NVivo software while the principles of thematic analysis were followed while quantitative results were analyzed by SPSS software. Once the results were obtained from both the data sets, integration was done by following the non-crossover horizontal mixed analysis as devised by Onwuegbuzie and meta-inferences were drawn accordingly. Results Results from the quantitative component concluded that students gave equal preferences to all qualities once given the necessity budget. However, clarity (rhetorical quality) was given the highest priority by the students once they were given the luxury budget while disclosureand assertiveness (relational qualities) were amongst the lowest rated qualities. In the qualitative findings however, there was a mix of opinions and a number of qualities from both the categories (rhetorical and relational) emerged; the students preferred their teachers having relational qualities like being open to communication, encouraging and empathetic. They also emphasized that teachers should be competent, knowledgeable and teach using interactive methods. Integration of results from both the paradigms however, showed convergence in two qualities, clarity and humorous while divergence in disclosure. Conclusion Individual findings from both the data sets revealed that the students in this study perceived that a good teacher should have a blend of both, relational and rhetorical qualities. However, after integration and meta-analysis, the students in our study exhibited a slightly greater preference for their teachers having rhetorical qualities as compared to relational ones. To add to the growing corpus of knowledge, further investigation into rhetorical and relational qualities is required by following a mixed method technique similar to this study.
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STEM learning aims to prepare students with hands-on and problem-based learning. However, teacher-centered instruction has been the predominant course delivery technique in STEM education regardless face-to-face or online learning context. Using both quantitative and qualitative research methods, this study explores the expectations of effective online courses based on Moore’s three types of interactions among Chinese STEM college students taking synchronous teacher-centered lecture-based online courses. A total of 175 undergraduate STEM students were recruited at one Chinese university. Results indicate that these students expect their instructors to integrate activities to motivate interactions with their instructor, peers, and the learning content. Students’ perceptions of the advantages and challenges of taking synchronous lecture-based courses are also discussed. It is expected that the findings would enlighten professionals of higher education in China to adjust teacher-centered instruction and to adequately prepare and train online instructors to foster an active online learning environment in STEM fields.
With the fast development of technology and the prevalent use of high-speed internet across campus, online courses have become a necessary option for course delivery in many universities in China. A sample group of 158 university students participated in this study. We examined differences in their expectations of instructors between face-to-face and online course settings. Results indicated that Chinese students expect their instructors to have some overlap characteristics in both sets, including being knowledgeable about the subject, building class rapport, having realistic expectations of students, and providing fair testing and grading. Specifically, Chinese students expect instructors who teach online courses to be more confident, creative, interesting, and humble. Chinese students also hope online instructors actively motivate class discussion and promote critical thinking, and are intellectually stimulating.
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Los departamentos de Publicidad de las universidades de todo el mundo deben enfrentarse a una industria que cambia con rapidez y se redefine constantemente ante las disrupciones que genera la tecnología. Esta es una realidad que ha provocado un amplio debate entre investigadores, educadores, administradores y profesionales del ramo, quienes en talleres y seminarios han abordado la necesidad de examinar las aptitudes y cualificaciones del instructor de publicidad contemporáneo. Sin embargo, se ha dejado de lado a los estudiantes, cuyas expectativas sobre sus instructores siguen siendo en gran medida desconocidas. ¿Cómo se imaginan los estudiantes al profesor de publicidad ideal? ¿Qué cualidades buscan? ¿Qué quieren aprender y cómo se imaginan la relación con sus profesores de publicidad? Hemos explorado la opinión de los estudiantes mediante la técnica de obtención de metáforas de Zaltman (ZMET), consiguiendo una rica visión de sus pensamientos, sentimientos y expectativas sobre el profesor de publicidad ideal. El estudio puede servir como herramienta de reflexión para los educadores publicitarios sobre sus prácticas de enseñanza, y de evaluación para los departamentos de publicidad durante la contratación y la promoción.
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Classrooms of higher education are growing more internationalized in terms of both students and professors. With increasingly cross-cultural contact in the classroom, how individuals react based on their national culture becomes increasing important for educators. This paper investigates student/professor interactions and corresponding improvement strategies across four culturally distinct samples: China, New Zealand, Poland, and the United States. Differences are identified with respect to the types of critical incidents reported and desired responses to those encounters. The potential role that differences in the cultural dimensions of individualism, power distance, masculinity, uncertainty avoidance, and time orientation may have in these findings are investigated. Suggestions are provided for specifically applying the research results in the classroom.
This study investigated aspects ofmetacognition and motivation that may distinguish the learning processes of adults in higher education from those of traditional-age students. Developmental changes in metacognitive and motivational variables and their relationship to course performance were examined for traditional-age (18-23 years) and nontraditional-age (24-64 years) male and female college students, who completed self-report measures of study skills, motivation, and memory ability. Older students reported more use of two higher level study strategies: generation of constructive information and hyperprocessing. Negative correlations, especially for male students, were found between reported use of several strategies and midterm course performance. Developmental changes in the efficiency of strategy use and the lack of a match between strategy use and the type of course assessment are discussed as possible explanations for these findings. Findings of the study suggest that educators in higher education will need to respond pedagogically to differences in the motivation and learning processes of nontraditional students.
This study investigates differences in academic engagement and retention between first-generation and non-first-generation undergraduate students. Utilizing the Student Experience in the Research University survey of 1864 first-year students at a large, public research university located in the United States, this study finds that first-generation students have lower academic engagement (as measured by the frequency with which students interacted with faculty, contributed to class discussions, brought up ideas from different courses during class discussions, and asked insightful questions in class) and lower retention as compared to non-first-generation students. Recommendations that higher education faculty can follow to promote the academic engagement and retention of first-generation students are addressed.
This paper is a critical review and synthesis of the research on the association between student-faculty informal, nonclass contact and various outcomes of college. Relevant investigations are summarized according to sample characteristics, independent and dependent variables, statistical or design controls, and findings. A synthesis of the results indicates that, with the influence of student preenrollment traits held constant, significant positive associations exist between extent and quality of student-faculty informal contact and students’ educational aspirations, their attitudes toward college, their academic achievement, intellectual and personal development, and their institutional persistence. Methodological problems and issues in the existing body of evidence are discussed, and directions for future research are suggested. A conceptual model to guide future inquiry in the area is offered and discussed briefly.
Availability of newer technologies such as conferencing tools and higher bandwidth that enables multimedia presentations has resulted in the offering of more online courses and degree programs. Recent statistics (Koeppel, 1999) reveal that the number and diversity of online programming by many institutions has significantly increased over the last few years. Attempts to carefully scrutinize and evaluate online instruction should also increase. The online and face-to-face pedagogy for different subject matters at different educational levels need a careful comparison. Analysis of data collected for this study reveals that at least as good as face-to-face pedagogy can be maintained in online instruction at the graduate level if certain conditions are met. This study does not support the finding (Goldberg, 1997) that students who have access to both face-to-face and online instruction achieve a higher level of performance.