Study shows how lecturers can shine for students
The research team, led by Phil Birch at the University of Chichester and including Dr Andrew Manley at Leeds Metropolitan, John Batten at the University of Winchester and Dr Matthew Smith at University of Chichester, asked a group of 452 students to identify specific cues that they felt were influential when developing their initial impressions and expectancies of a lecturer. The results showed that the cues deemed most influential on the students were third party reports (including the lecturer's qualifications, experience, and reputation), and communication skills (including tone of voice, speed of speech, and use of language).
Dr Manley commented: "The results show that lecturers can to some extent control the first impressions that their students form of them. Specifically, lecturers may be able to build rapport with their students by developing strategies using their voice (such as speaking clearly and varying their tone of voice) and reputation (for example highlighting their consultancy work or applied experience within their teaching). Given that our impressions and expectations of others can influence the way we behave towards them, the results provide encouraging reading for teachers in higher education who might be able to manage their initial impressions to the advantage of both themselves and their students."
The study involved students studying for sports-related degrees at three universities across the UK. Each student completed a questionnaire to indicate to what extent each of a list of 30 cues were considered a major source of information that influences their first impression of a lecturer. Cues also included elements such as clothing, age, gender and body language, as well as additional cues identified by the students such as ability to engage the class through humour.