Students Identify Teacher Characteristics and Behaviors that Help

Goldman et al. (2017) asked university students what teacher characteristics aid them in learning. The characteristics below have consistently appeared in this type of research since the 1930s, indicating many generations of students have similar views on the topic:

  • Responsive – the teacher has compassion, is helpful, sincere, friendly, and sensitive to student needs
  • Clear – the teacher presents content in ways that students can understand, answers questions, has clear course objectives
  • Relevant – the teacher uses examples, explanations, and exercises that make the course content relevant to students’ careers and personal goals
  • Competent – the teacher is a content expert, intelligent, and knows how to teach
  • Trustworthy – the teacher is honest, genuine, and abides by ethical standards
  • Immediate – the teacher’s nonverbal behaviors are expressive; the teacher smiles, nods, uses gestures, makes eye contact, and doesn’t speak in a monotone
  • Humorous – the teacher uses humor frequently

Which of these resonate? Which might you cultivate for the future?

Adapted from Maryellen Weimer, Ph.D.

Goldman, Z.W., Cranmer, G.A., Solitto, M., Labelle, S., and Lanccaster, A.L. (2017). What do college students want? A prioritization of instructional behaviors and characteristics. Communication Education, 66 (3), 280-298.