ERIC Number: EJ1070701
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Reference Count: 8
Are You as Good a Teacher as You Think?
Price, Paul C.
Thought & Action, p7-14 Fall 2006
A survey of professors at the University of Nebraska shows that 94 percent of the professors thought they were better than average teachers at their own institution. Assuming a reality that puts the true value at somewhere near 50 percent, this survey suggests a rather stunning lack of self-insight among the professoriate. An experienced college teacher probably has one of three reactions to this finding: (1) Indifference--attributing the finding to faulty survey methods, or the ambiguity of the concept of "average"; (2) Amusement--believing that they are in the top 50 percent, and remembering less competent co-workers and their ineffective teaching approaches; or (3) Concern--doubting their teaching skills. Unfortunately, the most appropriate reaction--concern--is also the least likely because people's tendency to think of themselves as better than average contributes to their ability to avoid such biases. There is a great deal of evidence from social-cognitive psychology that the majority of people who aren't clinically depressed systematically overestimate their own traits and abilities in a wide variety of domains. The nature of college teaching makes college teachers especially prone to such overestimation for reasons described in this article. College teachers should be concerned by this result because recognizing shortcomings is a prerequisite for improvement, and can be tremendously motivating. When teachers accept the proposition that they are not as good as they think, they are already considerably better than they were.
Descriptors: Teacher Effectiveness, College Faculty, Cognitive Psychology, Teacher Attitudes, Self Evaluation (Individuals), Self Efficacy, Teacher Improvement
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site: http://www.nea.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A