Age and dress of professors: influence on students' first impressions of teaching effectiveness
Davis, Margery Ann Salisbury
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Using the framework of attribution theory, the variables of age of professors, formality of dress of professors, and class of student were tested for their influence on college students' expectations of the teaching effectiveness of college professors in a first impression situation. A rating questionnaire containing ten positive professors' traits was developed. An older male and a younger male were photographed in black-and-white in three outfits, for a total of six photographs. The sample consisted of two groups: 179 freshmen and 175 seniors. Each student was randomly assigned one of the six photographs to rate. A Pearson correlation of the ten traits revealed two groups of closely related traits plus some miscellaneous traits. One group represented competence and one represented approachability. A mUltivariate analysis of variance indicated that the factors of age and formality were significant. Overall, the older professor rated significantly higher than the younger. The older professor received higher scores on knowledge, preparation, and organization, while the younger professor received a higher score on sympathy toward students. The lowest formality rated the highest of the three levels, with the moderate level receiving the lowest score. The lowest level rated significantly higher on clarity of communication. This trait had the highest negative association with formality. The highest and lowest level rated significantly higher for well-prepared. The older professor in the lowest formality of dress rated the highest of all six photographs. The factor of class was not significant. There were no significant two- or three-way interactions. Overall, results indicate that older males are expected to be more effective professors than younger males. Evidently age gives an impression of experience. Casual dress conveys the best impression. Perhaps students can relate more to professors when professors are dressed more like them.
- Doctoral Dissertations