, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 641-649

Improving university teaching: what Brazilian students say about their teachers

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Abstract

The major purpose of the research reported here was to gather, analyze and interpret the opinions about effective university teachers held by 392 students randomly selected from each of the populations of students attending the Schools of Nursing, Dentistry and Medicine at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil. A 72-item scale was developed based upon a review of the literature on effective teaching and qualitative information collected through an open-ended instrument given to 175 students attending the same schools but not a part of the final randomly selected samples. The final scale asked students to bear in mind a particular teacher they judged effective and to indicate on a Likert 5-point scale the degree to which that teacher exhibited the behaviors and/or attributes proposed by each of the 72 items.

The student responses were first analyzed for the purpose of identifying those teacher behaviors and/or attributes most frequently and highly rated. Following this, factor analyses were performed to identify the factors involved in the students' description of effective university teachers.

Six factors were identified and were named: I Student Participation; II Classroom Organization and Management; III Teacher Clarity; IV Acceptance of Students; V Punctuality, and VI Systematization. In light of the research on effective teaching and in an effort to provide focus for efforts to improve university teaching, these factors were further clustered under three foci for staff development: (1) improving interpersonal relationships, (2) improving organization, management and evaluation and (3) enhancing knowledge and understanding.