Academic journal article College Student Journal

Professors' Perceptions of Student Behaviors

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Professors' Perceptions of Student Behaviors

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to assess the desirability of 56 student behaviors as perceived by faculty and compare these findings with previous research. The frequency with which faculty reported witnessing the 56 behaviors was also assessed and compared with the desirability ratings. Results suggested a core set of valued student behaviors consistent with previous research and additional desired behaviors that indicate a trend toward increased student/faculty interaction. The link between faculty expectations and student behaviors, in terms of the frequency with which faculty report students engaging in desirable and undesirable behaviors, were discussed.

The classroom environment is a complex and dynamic set of interactions between faculty and students designed to facilitate accomplishment of a variety of goals, not the least of which is academic achievement (Wentzel, 1989, 1993). These complex interactions form the basis for a set of expectations for both instructor behaviors (the instructor role) and student behaviors (the student role). Throughout their academic careers, from kindergarten onward, most students learn what is expected of them in their roles as students through their own experiences of trial and error, and direct and/or indirect feedback from instructors. Research by Valerius and Parr (1997) suggests that students can and do influence the impressions teachers form of them by performing the student role.

Valerius and Parr (1997) assessed the extent to which students reported engaging in impression management (IM) and possible motivations for their engagement in such behaviors. In the organizational behavior literature, IM behaviors are divided into three categories: self-focused, role-focused, and supervisor/instructor-focused behaviors. Students reported engaging most often in self-focused IM behaviors that let the instructor know what a good person they are. Students engaged less often in student-role related behaviors designed to convey what a good student she or he is, and least often in instructor-focused behaviors such as taking an interest in the teacher's personal life or complimenting him or her (Valerius & Parr, 1997). They also found that a student's desire to be liked and the degree to which she or he has contact with his or her instructor significantly predicted engagement in self-focused and student-role related IM. However, there was no correlation between engagement in IM of any type and course grades. They concluded that students may engage in IM for social reasons such as receiving attention from the instructor, rather than to influence an instructor's objective evaluation (i.e., grades).

While evidence does not support a direct link between specific student behaviors and objective measures of academic performance such as grades, certain student behaviors do appear to affect the relationships that develop between students and faculty which may indirectly affect objective academic performance (Valerius & Parr, 1997). These behaviors tend to influence the extent to which instructors like students, thus enhancing the relationship between instructor and student which may then indirectly affect the instructor's assessment of the student (Valerius & Parr, 1997). In addition, positive instructor/student relationships may result in opportunities for attention from instructors beyond the day-to-day classroom interaction such as further educational and professional activities (e.g., scholarship recommendations, strong letters of reference, and job referrals).

Understanding faculty's expectations for student behaviors would make it easier for students to ascribe to the student role. In addition, given the changing nature of the educational environment in higher education (e.g., students as customers and colleges as businesses; the growing diversity of the student body in terms of race, age, part-time vs. full-time status, family and work responsibilities; etc. …

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