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Pedagogical Signals of Faculty Approachability: Factors Shaping Faculty–Student Interaction Outside the Classroom

Abstract

Decades of research demonstrate that college students benefit from positive interaction with faculty members, although that same evidence suggests that those interactions are far from common, particularly outside the classroom. Moreover, relatively little is known about which, when, how, and why faculty members choose to engage with students outside of the classroom. Guided by the theory that faculty members use in-class behaviors to signal their “psychosocial approachability” for out-of-class interaction with students (Wilson et al. in Sociology of Education 47(1):74–92, 1974; College professors and their impact on students, 1975), this study uses data from 2,845 faculty members on 45 campuses to identify the personal, institutional, and pedagogical factors that influence the frequency and type of interaction faculty members have with students outside of the classroom.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Intra-class correlation for “casual” interaction scale = 2.94/(95.21 + 2.94) = 0.030. Intra-class correlation for “substantive” interaction scale = 0.29/(14.30 + 0.29) = 0.020.

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Correspondence to Bradley E. Cox.

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A previous version of this paper was presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Special thanks to Charles F. Blaich and the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education.

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Cox, B.E., McIntosh, K.L., Terenzini, P.T. et al. Pedagogical Signals of Faculty Approachability: Factors Shaping Faculty–Student Interaction Outside the Classroom. Res High Educ 51, 767–788 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-010-9178-z

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Keywords

  • College teaching
  • Student–faculty contact (interaction)
  • Psychosocial approachability
  • Faculty gender
  • Contingent faculty
  • Pedagogical signals