By Loydie Burmah |Staff Writer|
Professionalism, extensive knowledge, courtesy, and even humor are considerable factors of what students look for in an ideal professor.
“An engaging professor, one that cares about the well-being of their students. A professor that is also on top of things, and makes class interesting,” said student Ashanee Brown.
Granted it’s not easy to develop a generalization on student preference because of the diversity of what qualities students perceive would be found in an ideal professor.
“When a professor is passionate in what they teach, it makes me want to learn,” said student Carlos Mora. However, it can be generalized that some student expectations ultimately revolve around a professor’s level of openness, care for student well-being, and familiarity/excitement of subject matter.
In a research study by Accalia Kusto, Stephanie Afful, and Brent Mattingly on “Students Perceptions of Preferences for Professors” the authors found students preferred professors to have similar qualities, regardless of discipline.
They said, “Alternatively, our findings suggest that students generally prefer that professors possess the same professorial qualities, regardless of discipline.”
Kusto, Afful, and Mattingly conducted their research by providing their subjects with Students’ Perceptions of Professors Surveys, which featured 20 items listing ideal or actual (typical) behaviors of professors.
Students ranked items such as expressiveness, time management, and professionalism on a five-point scale for history, psychology, and biology professors.
“These findings suggest that many aspects of students’ experiences in a course affect how students rate the course, not just how well the professor taught,” stated Kusto, Afful, and Mattingly in their research.
The ratings for each discipline were assessed then the mean scores were compared amongst each other.
Although these findings prove that there are considerable qualities that students expect from all professors, the authors stress that their findings should be evaluated with caution.
“However, conclusions drawn from the current study do not attempt to describe specific characteristics of ideal or typical professors, both of which require generalizability across universities,” reported the study.
Websites like Rate My Professor (RMP) allow users access to student ratings of professor attitude and performance.
“The site does what students have been doing forever […] figure out who’s a great professor and who’s one you might want to avoid,” according to the RMP About.Users rank a professor on easiness, helpfulness, clarity, interest, overall quality and are allowed to leave comments elaborating on their scoring.
“Hated the class mostly because it was so boring. Didn’t help that she kept saying that it was a course she didn’t like teaching. At least try to make it interesting,” wrote an anonymous student on ratemyprofessor.com.
It would appear that student expectations of respectable qualities from their professors to some extent affect their ability to learn.
“If a professor is dull, or unexcited, I tend to not pay attention to the subject and it’s harder to get the material,” said student Carolina Alvarez.
Making generalizations about preferences is difficult, but it can be assessed that certain qualities such as openness and humor from professors help better facilitate student learning.