Characteristics of Effective Teachers

Organization and Clarity

  • explains clearly
  • is well prepared (see Preparing for the First Day)
  • makes difficult topics easy to understand
  • uses examples, details, analogies, metaphors, and variety in modes of explanation to make material not only understandable but memorable
  • makes the objectives of the course and each class clear (see Course DesignCourse Goals and Learning Outcomes)
  • establishes a context for material

Analytic/Synthetic Approach

  • has a thorough command of the field
  • contrasts the implications of various theories
  • gives the student a sense of the field, its past, present, and future directions, the origins of ideas and concepts (see Consider Your Audience)
  • presents facts and concepts from related fields
  • discusses viewpoints other than his/her own

Dynamism and Enthusiasm

  • is an energetic, dynamic person
  • seems to enjoy teaching
  • conveys a love of the field
  • has an aura of self-confidence

Instructor-Group Interaction

  • can stimulate, direct, and pace interaction with the class (see How to Lead a Discussion)
  • encourages independent thought and accepts criticism
  • uses wit and humor effectively
  • is a good public speaker (see Speaking at the Hume Center for Writing and Speaking)
  • knows whether or not the class is following the material and is sensitive to students’ motivation
  • is concerned about the quality of his/her teaching

Instructor-Individual Student Interaction

  • is perceived as fair, especially in his/her methods of evaluation (see How to Evaluate Students)
  • is seen by students as approachable and a valuable source of advice even on matters not directly related to the course (see Interacting with Students)