Differences of Students' Satisfaction with College Professors: The Impact of Student Gender on Satisfaction

Article excerpt


Students in university settings have many varied expectations of professors. At the very least, they expect for them to be competent in an area of expertise and that the will provide engaging and helpful experience that assists students in achieving their goals.

Trends in the workforce are often reflected in academic trends. More women attend college now then in past years, and more women are part of the workforce. In academics, however, male professors greatly outnumber female professors. "The number of professors per 10,000 adults in the United States--what we might call the academic intellectual ratio--has increased dramatically in this century... By and large this dramatic growth in the number and proportion of academic intellectuals has been a male phenomenon. Male professors have outnumbered female professors by about three to one since the turn of the century" (Anderson, p.35).

Gender affects the ways in which students learn as well as their needs in the classroom environment (James, In press). In general females tend to be more verbal, while males respond more to visual stimulation. Females seem to have a keener sense of reading body language, while males have more of a need for activity (James, In press). Females have traditionally been expected to speak in ways different than males, more "lady-like" (Lakoff, 1975). As such, a female instructor may have preconceived notions of how she should sound and act; this could be affected by her age, as societal expectations have changed. Her students may have expectations as well. A male instructor may not feel these same constraints. These factors could contribute to how an instructor presents information, and ultimately, how it is received.

Further, gender differences could affect how students potentially learn and thrive in a classroom environment, and even what could potentially cause the reverse. Future success is often related to satisfaction with a classroom experience. Therefore, it is conceivable that a classroom environment could be effects by differences gender. What helps one gender may not help the other, and vice versa.

This study seeks to determine how gender differences can affect classroom experiences. In particular, it examines the relationship between student gender and subsequent satisfaction with the instructor, by accounting for the professor's gender. It is possible that students will be more satisfied with instructors of their gender. Additional attention is given to with regard to respect issues, or the degree to which professors are respected by students. It is suggested that students will favor male instructors. Age will also be considered as a control variable.

Based on past literature, the following issues are addressed:

1. Do males experience courses differently than females?

2. When taking into account control issues, such as instructor age, if the student wants to be attending college, and the students' major, is student satisfaction affected?

3. Does gender identification (students and instructors having the same gender) affect student satisfaction--are students more satisfied by instructors of their gender?

4. Do classroom respect issues, such as knowing a professor's tile and following classroom policies, and the manner in which a course is presented by the instructor, affect student satisfaction?

The above issues are important because student satisfaction with instruction can impact their learning. Improved student involvement and satisfaction can lead to improved learning. Ultimately, gender identification issues could also carry over into the workforce, and be especially germane to new employee and manager training. "Sixty-one million women directly influence the American workforce today; gay and lesbian rights fill legislative proposals; and social conditions constantly shift expectations and circumstances between the sexes" (Florence and Fortson, p. …