In-depth knowledge is most important quality of a university teacher, survey finds

A significant proportion of students would base their decision about where to study on the teaching quality at the university, but find it difficult to access this information.
October 15 2015

University lecturer.jpg

University lecturer
A metric over academics' contract status may be included in the forthcoming teaching excellence framework

In-depth knowledge is the most important quality of a university teacher, according to research into student perspectives on teaching quality.

For one in five students, the qualifications of university lecturers would affect their decision about where to study.

The research, by The Student Room, indicates what students value about teaching quality ahead of the UK government’s plans for a teaching excellence framework, which will use student opinions to create metrics on which to evaluate university teaching.

Although a significant proportion of students said that they would base their decision about where to study on teaching quality, information on many of the factors that students value is hard to come by, often because it is not publicly available or is difficult to measure.

Out of 500 students surveyed, 77 per cent believe that university lecturers’ qualifications should be made publicly available on websites and in prospectuses.

Survey respondent Matt Roscoe decided to attend Lancaster University based on how friendly the department had seemed to him when he visited. For him, the mark of a good teacher is a high level of interaction with students, both inside and outside lecture theatres.

He said: “Going that extra mile for students and being willing to help them outside of timetabled contact hours always impressed me.

“My favourite lecturers were the ones who engaged with students throughout the lecture rather than simply standing in front of a slide show.

“I also particularly appreciated lecturers who made an effort to be approachable and friendly. By breaking down the barrier between student and lecturer, it felt easier to go and ask for help with something I didn’t understand.”

The survey found that 60 per cent of students consider in-depth knowledge to be the most important quality for a university teacher.

In addition, 22 per cent said that passion for the subject was the most important factor, while 9 per cent prized empathy for students, and another 9 per cent named teaching qualifications as the key factor. 

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