Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire have analyzed submissions to the annual Tutor of the Year award. By counting how many times the nominations mentioned a specific trait, they were able to rank the elements in an educator most valued by students.
Not surprisingly, the most common quality in a nominee was “great teaching.” Thirty percent of the nominations mentioned that. More revealing was the least mentioned item: feedback and assessment. Just four percent of students cited that as a reason to recognize their instructors. Also highly ranked: positive outlook, influential, and edutaining.
It is not too helpful for an educator looking to improve her skills to know that students want “great teaching.” But the lack of interest in feedback seems to go against many current pedagogical trends. Is this a case where the patient does not know what is good for him? I would be curious to see a longitudinal study that follows up on the students at intervals after the class is over. With time, do they come to appreciate different qualities about an instructor?