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Attributes and Attribute-Consequences of Great College Teachers

Wilson, Mary
Good teachers impart good education. Great teachers groom their students to become leaders. Ordinary teachers direct us along the right path, but great teachers inspire us to seek our own path. They encourage us to discover our talents. --Author Unknown. Higher education is a very important topic to many people, which is evidenced in part by the number of people involved, the money spent, and the research which has been conducted in this area. While many studies have been completed aiming to determine the attributes that constitute a "great teacher," this is where most studies have ended. This paper looks to further people's knowledge in this area by taking a deeper look into these questions. Using the soft-laddering interview technique this research further examines what attributes students prefer in their college professors. It also examines the basis behind their attribute choices by determining both the consequences and values that motivate their choices. The research then further examines these issues through the use of in-person questionnaires, and also studies whether different attribute-consequence choices are made for students' favorite teachers and those who are best at facilitating learning, along with whether there are differences based on major, demographics, etc. Results indicate that while there are some differences between majors, how great teachers are defined, and data collection methods, primarily, students prefer teachers who take a sincere interest in students' learning, make courses interesting, and show a commitment to class. These attributes are important, as students are primarily concerned with developing a true understanding of the material being taught in class.