How quickly do impressions of teachers form?

050710_will_ilsmallHey everybody, it’s Will.  It is the start of a new term for me, and I feel particularly enthused this go-around.  Often at the beginning of a term I ask myself the same questions: How quickly do students form opinions about me as a teacher?  How do they make decisions about how effective they think I am going to be?  How do they decide to trust me, so to speak?  I don’t have exact answers to these questions, but my guess is that it is pretty darn quick.  🙂

Writing in his book Blink, Malcolm Gladwell references a study that attempted to answer that question in traditional face-to-face classrooms.  He wrote:

How long… did it take you, when you were in College, to decide how good a teacher your professor was? A class? Two classes?  A semester?  The psychologist Nalini Ambady once gave studets three ten-second videotapes of a techer — with the sound turned off — and found they had no difficulty at all coming up with a rating of the teacher’s effectiveness.  Then Ambady cut the clip back to five seconds, and the ratings were the same.  They were remarkably consistent even when she showed the students just two seconds of videotape.  Then Ambady compared those snap judgments of teacher effectiveness with evaluations of those same professors made by their students after a full semester of classes, and she found that they were also essentially the same. [Emphasis added] (Blink, pgs 12 & 13)

I am not sure what to make of that completely, but it is interesting to think about how that process works in an online environment.

I’ll see you on the web!



One response to “How quickly do impressions of teachers form?

  1. Jonathan Groves

    Will, this is an interesting post here: students forming a first impression within seconds! I find that almost unbelievable!

    Perhaps that means if I teach in a traditional classroom and lose a student within 2 seconds of the first day of class, I might have lost him forever? I sure hope not!

    I don’t think I ever made any preliminary impressions of teachers anywhere that quickly. I know that 10 seconds or less is definitely not enough time for me to make any judgment call whatsoever (well, there are exceptions, but those would have to unusual situations, say a teacher arriving to class with highly unprofessional material in his hands).

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