Professors might want to rethink how their students perceive them. In a study published in the March issue of Learning, Media and Technology, researchers found that professors who reveal a bit of their personal lives are viewed as being more credible and more caring by students.
So maybe the notion we have that a “strictly business” demeanor is a good way to appear focused and knowledgeable is wrong.
It’s understandable: Students should learn from a professor, but knowing that we’re seeing and interacting with a human being puts us at ease and in a better position to process information.
We generally don’t mind hearing faculty go on tangents about previous work experience, their travels or — for those of us who have taken microeconomics — Leonardo’s Pizza. Sometimes, we appreciate the break in the monotony and the chance to connect with our professors.
There’s a balance to be struck, of course, so that we aren’t inundated with hour-long epics involving our instructors’ pets, but professors should let that academic and professional facade slip here and there. Mentioning your family or giving a personal opinion on a subject sometimes helps us more than sticking to stripped-down facts.
Remember: There are reasons robots haven’t replaced our faculty.