Doctoral Students' Perceptions of Characteristics of Effective College Teachers: A Mixed Analysis

Article excerpt


Since the early 1920s, administrators representing virtually all universities and colleges worldwide have been using some form of evaluation instrument to measure teacher effectiveness (Guthrie, 1954; Kulik, 2001; Seldin, 1993). These teacher evaluation forms (TEFs) have an impact on decisions regarding teachers' pay, tenure, promotion, and awards (Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, et al., 2007). Indeed, as noted by Washburn and Thornton (1996), TEFs often are used as the sole measure of teacher effectiveness. Additionally, these forms aid students in choosing teachers and courses (Gray & Bergmann, 2003; Marsh & Roche, 1993; Seldin, 1993). Thus, it is vital that data yielded by these TEFS are maximally valid.

Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, et al. (2007) assessed the validity of scores pertaining to a TEF by examining 912 students' perceptions of characteristics of effective college teachers. Their study was informative because they were able to develop themes and meta-themes that produced what they termed as the CARE-RESPECTED Model of Teaching Evaluation. This model comprised nine characteristics (i.e., Responsive, Enthusiast, Student-Centered, Professional, Expert, Connector, Transmitter, Ethical, and Director) that factored into four meta-themes (Communicator, Advocate, Responsible, Empowering) that students considered to reflect effective college teaching. These nine themes and four meta-themes are described in Table 1 and Table 2, respectively.

Through their model, Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, et al. (2007) hoped to develop an instrument that would provide formative and summative information about the efficacy of instruction. Interestingly, their model has been so popular that from 2007 until 2012, Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, et al.'s (2007) article was the most downloaded article among all articles ever published in the American Educational Research Journal. Since this article was published, educational researchers have increased their interest in TEFs. Indeed, prior to Onwuegbuzie, Witcher, et al.'s (2007) study, there were only six notably published studies in this area. These studies are presented in Table 3. The authors of these works identified several characteristics of effective teaching. Table 4 presents articles in the area of TEFs that were identified through the EBSCOHOST from 2007 to 2011. To locate these articles, two key phrases were used. The first search involved use of the search phrase "student perceptions of effective teachers," which yielded 153 articles, of which six articles were applicable to the current study, and the second search involved use of the search phrase "evaluation of college teachers," which yielded 116 articles, of which four articles were applicable to the current study. These articles informed the sections that follow.

Historical Reflection of TEFs

Calkins and Micari (2010) revealed that the first formal student rating systems occurred in the mid 1920s at Purdue University. These rating systems assessed the following effective teaching traits: (a) fairness in grading, (b) stimulating intellectual curiosity, and (c) personal peculiarities. During this time, university faculty members, who were held in high scholarly regard, had complete autonomy of their classrooms and could disregard student ratings at their discretion. By the 1950s, however, scholarly regard was beginning to be replaced with skepticism during the Postwar era (Calkins & Micari, 2010). The McCarthy proceedings, which aroused suspicion of Communist education occurring at the university level, influenced government officials to use student ratings to control lectures and to target and to release faculty members who were suspected of Communist instruction. Although students believed that they were gaining power and a voice on their campuses, student rating systems became the leading leverage that government officials would use to monitor curriculum and to hold professors accountable for student success (Calkings & Micari, 2010). …