Are Attractive Teachers Better?

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Looking Good, Teaching Well? Linking Liking, Looks, and Learning
Regan A. R. Gurung, Kristin M. Grudzielanek, and Christina J. Tosh
Abstract
Results & Discussion
Does the appearance of an instructor influence student liking of the
class and learning? We tested this question with 948 undergraduate
students. Regression analysis showed that good looking, well dressed,
likeable, approachable teachers had students who learned more and liked
the class better.
Figure 1: Correational analyses showed that learning was significantly related to attractiveness, formal dress,
approachability, likeability, attendance, participation, difficulty, and enjoyment.
Course
Structure
Figure 2: To predict learning from the other key variables we conducted a multiple regression analysis which
demonstrated that how much students learn is contingent upon GPA (3% of variance), gender of the instructor (2%), liking
of the professor (50%), difficulty of the class (1%), and student’s attendance (2%).
Figure 3: To predict liking we conducted a second multiple regression analysis which demonstrated that how much
students like their instructor is contingent upon the instructors formal dress (1% of variance), difficulty of the course (3%),
student’s attendance (2%), student’s participation (4%), instructor approachability (6%), attractiveness of the instructor
(19%), instructor’s age (3%), and student’s GPA and instructor’s sex (3%).
Learning
Student Preferences:
Age: 30-39 (50%) and 40-49 (38%)
Figure 2: Predicting Learning
GPA
Difficulty
Liking
Gender: no significant difference
Class size: 0-25 (41%) and 25-50 (42%)
Gender
Formal Dress
Attractiveness
Liking
Attractiveness: mean = 2.01 {7 = very important}
Formal Dress: mean = 2.59
{7 = very important}
Difficulty: mean = 4.21
{7 = very hard}
50% Lecture
23% Discussion
Introduction
Attractiveness is a powerful social tool, but it is associated with teaching
effectiveness? Recent research has begun to answer this question (Buskist,
Silkorski, Buckley, & Saville 2002; Epting, Zinn, Buskist, & Buskist, 2004).
In this vein we assessed how factors such as dress, attractiveness,
approachability, and liking influence student learning.
The professor’s personal qualities such as appearance (attractiveness,
gender, age, formal vs. informal dress), approachableness (easy to talk to),
and likeability may influence the students’ overall evaluation of the course
and student outcomes. The two aspects of a professor’s personal qualities that
have been shown to influence student evaluations of a course are the
professor’s attractiveness and gender (Buck & Tiene 1989; Naumann 1989;
Romano & Bordieri 1989). Romano and Bordieri found that attractive
professors were “judged to be better teachers, more likely to be approached,
more likely to be recommended to other students, and less likely to be blamed
if a student received a failing course grade”(1989). Female professors were
also more preferred than male professors. Not all studies agree (Buck &
Tiene, 1989). Is there a link? Is attractiveness just a proxy for other factors?
There has also been extensive research on what is the most successful in
the college classroom experience. The classroom experience consists of format
(i.e. lecture, discussion, in-class group work, demonstrations, and
multimedia), assignments in the classroom (i.e. tests, pop quiz’s, papers, inclass activates, group projects, individual projects, D2L, and others),
perceived difficulty level, satisfaction with the course, class size, and the use
of power point. Research has found that the most successful format for
teaching should be a combination of things (Buskist, Silkorski, Buckley, &
Saville 2002). We hypothesized that many different aspects of a college
professor’s personal qualities combined with the classroom experience can
greatly influence student outcomes. Based on previous research, we believe
that student’s view of the professor’s personal qualities (appearance,
approachableness, and how likable is the professor) will be positively
correlated to classroom experience and student outcomes. We also
hypothesized that a professor’s appearance will influence how the student’s
view that professor’s approachableness, how much they like that professor,
and student outcomes.
Method
Difficulty
The participants in this study included 948 students from a mid
sized, Midwestern university (80% female). All university students were
invited to participate in the study through a campus wide e-mail. The
e-mail provided a short description of the study and why the
information we would receive from it was important. It included a link
to a survey for students who decided to respond.
Figure 1: Correlations Between Learning and Main Predictors
Enjoy
Difficulty
13% In-class group work
14% Demonstrations
Attendence
Figure 3: Predicting Liking
15% Multimedia
Formal dress
40
Difficulty
30
Attendence
Participation
20
Approachable
10
Participation
Attraction
Age
0
Attend
Liking
GPA & Sex
Liking
Approach
Formal Dress
Attractive
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
APS2005: For a copy or additional details email: [email protected]
•Analyses of variance (ANOVA) showed that female professors were rated as more attractive and likeable (64% of
professors rated were male).
• Male professors were rated as more formally dressed. ANOVAs also showed female professors had higher attractiveness
and likeability ratings.
• Findings support the strong associations between attractiveness and student liking for a course. In addition we draw
attention to the importance of how instructors dress and provide insight into the many different factors associated with
student liking. As can be seen there is a strong association between liking and learning that is hard to disentangle. One
possible way to understand this link may be to examine class assessment scores (rather than using self-report grades as we
have).
•Consistent with the social psychological powers of attractiveness, our results suggest that even in the classroom,
attractiveness is a powerful factor.
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