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November 24, 2017 Friday 04:17:29 PM IST

Good and Bad Teachers

Teacher Insights

In a recent study two researchers, Sandra Chang-Kredl and her colleague Daniela Colannino, examined popular representations of teachers on the social media platform Reddit for a more accurate picture of public perceptions of teachers and teaching. They analysed 600 entries over six years, in which commenters discussed their 'best' and 'worst' teachers.

Their initial conclusions? That our understanding of the 'best' and 'worst' is predicated on personal educational values -- and, possibly, our understanding of gender. "We tend to think in terms of good and bad teachers, but reality is less clear-cut," says Chang-Kredl. "The teacher who is good for me can be bad for someone else; it depends on the student's values, needs and approaches to schooling."

The researchers found that ratings of teachers fell into three broad categories: the teacher's professional and personal qualities; the student's learning outcomes; and the relationship between student and teacher.

When it came to professional qualities, 'best' teachers were praised for being intelligent, engaging, dedicated, easygoing and strict but fair; 'worst' teachers were described as incompetent, lacking in judgement, lazy, unfair and biased.


The personal qualities of 'best' teachers can be categorised as unique, humorous, down to earth and physically attractive, while 'worst' teachers were also described as unique, but negatively so, as well as bad-tempered, condescending and unattractive.

Surprisingly, there were almost as many praised for being 'dedicated' as for being 'easygoing'. 'Best' and 'worst' teachers were also variously lauded and criticised for for virtually identical behaviours -- for example, 'being lenient' or 'chill' versus 'putting in no effort.'

'The finding demonstrates that students have different learning styles and personalities, and respond differently to teachers based on their own needs and perspectives,' the researchers explain.


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