Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hey Professor! You are what you wear.

Or maybe not, according to a recent study by an educational psychologist who found that "how academics dress for a lecture doesn't affect how students perceive them —at least in the long run."

Here's more:

Yasmine L. Konheim-Kalkstein, who holds a doctorate in educational psychology, grouped four sections of an introductory psychology course she taught last fall into two "casual" classes and two "formal" classes, each of which were held at different times and on different days.

The data showed that Ms. Konheim-Kalkstein's clothing made a small difference in perceptions of her on the first day of class, with those students in the "formal" classes finding her more qualified and approachable than did those in the informal classes. But four weeks into the semester, wearing less-formal clothes had about the same effect on student perceptions as wearing formal clothes.

You can read the rest of this story from the Chronicle of Higher Education here.

I know that (several) others have studied whether the way in which professors dress affects student perceptions but I can't remember whether this new study in consistent with the other research.  Since I'm headed out the door to the UNLV rec center, I'm not inclined to find out at the moment.  If you know, please post in the comment section below.

I am the scholarship dude.

(jbl)

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Authors of one study reported that formally dressed instructors were deemed more intelligent and competent, while those less formally dressed were deemed more extroverted and enthusiastic. Tracy L. Morris et al., Fashion in the Classroom: Effects of Attire on Student Perceptions of Instructors in College Classes, 45 Comm. Educ. 135, 141 (1996). This presents us with a dilemma: Should we appear competent -- or enthusiastic?
Other studies raise questions about Konheim-Kalkstein’s conclusion that students’ early impressions based on dress are not lasting. Those studies show that students make up their minds about a professor based on short amounts of contact on the first day of class, and that those early judgments correlate highly with end-of-course student ratings. See Deborah J. Merritt, Bias, the Brain, and Student Evaluations of Teaching, 82 St. John's L. Rev. 235, 246-49 (2008)(citing studies).

Posted by: Judy Fischer | Jul 23, 2009 8:13:14 AM

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