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REF NO.: 83

SUBJECT: What makes a good professor? Memorial University students have the answers in upcoming spotlight session
DATE: Dec. 3, 2010

Students are performance evaluated every day, but the shoe is less frequently on the other foot.
            One thing a research team with Memorial’s Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT) discovered is that emotional connection plays a huge part in how effective instruction is – whether that’s in the classroom or online.
            Dr. Jerome Delaney, Albert Johnson, Dr. Trudi Johnson and Dr. Dennis Treslan recently published the final report on their research that investigated students’ perceptions of effective teaching in higher education. Mr. Johnson recently received the award for the most outstanding master’s thesis from the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education for his research in this area.
            The quartet will be presenting a spotlight event on their research Dec. 6 in the Inco Innovation Centre on Memorial University’s St. John’s Campus.
            “Student rating of instruction was introduced into North American universities in the mid-1920s,” said Mr. Johnson. “However, the desire to clarify the qualities that make university teaching effective have been revitalized as a renewed mandate to enhance teaching and learning appears predominantly in the strategic plans of many universities and colleges.”
            The report indicates that the growth of online distance education has led researchers to question the characteristics of effective teaching in an online environment and whether they’re the same as effective teaching in a face-to-face setting.
            “Using a unique online approach to data gathering, students were asked to isolate the characteristics they believe are essential to effective teaching at the university level,” Mr. Johnson explained. “An open-ended online survey was made available to more than 17,000 graduate and undergraduate students at Memorial University during the winter semester of 2008. Derived from this rich data are student definitions of nine characteristics and sets of instructor behaviours that students perceive as essential to effective teaching.”
            Those nine characteristics for on-campus students, in order of the number of the times they were mentioned in the survey results were: respectful, knowledgeable, approachable, engaging, communicative, organized, responsive, professional and humorous.
            In slight contrast for distance students, the order was: respectful, responsive, knowledgeable, approachable, communicative, organized, engaging, professional and humorous.
            The full research report can be viewed at: www.distance.mun.ca/survey.
            Spotlight Session: Students’ Perceptions of Effective Teaching in Higher Education: Face-to-face and at a Distance will take place Monday, Dec. 6, at 10:30 a.m. in the Inco Innovation Centre at Memorial University (IIC-2001).

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