College student perceptions of the importance of teacher influence on student learning

Loretta Maria Hauser, Fordham University


The major purpose of this study was to investigate the phenomenon of teacher influence and its effect on 18 volunteer full time college students as learners and as individuals. Learning from teaching is not automatic and there is a need to consider both achievement and affective outcomes in research on teaching using the learner's viewpoint. The researcher explored students' interpretations and descriptions of their everyday experiences with teachers, in and out of the classroom, as a function of an individual's way of perceiving. Student interviews, supplemented by tape recordings of these events, were the source of all information. A researcher designed interview guide was used to probe students' past experiences that related to different teacher attitudes and behaviors. Differences in perceptions of teacher behavior yielded three distinct types of teachers: (a) caring, (b) neutral, and (c) rejecting. The teacher behaviors associated with each type of teacher were perceived to be directed toward (a) students as individual learners and (b) students as members of a class. These behaviors culminated in individual student outcomes that were categorized into two groups: (a) immediate outcomes and (b) long term outcomes. Caring teachers provide a supportive learning environment, find opportunities to involve their students in stimulating learning activities, and nurture meaningful relationships. These behaviors result in student motivation and improvement of self-concept. Neutral teachers are perceived as conveying little enthusiasm to the students and show minimal interest in their success in learning. Students have a tendency to give up on learning in these classes. Rejecting teachers are perceived as being inconsiderate of students' feelings and unwilling to take the time to find out what students are thinking or what the students want to say. Students rebel, feel hostile, and lose their self-confidence from extended contact with rejecting teachers. Student interpretations of the behaviors of different teacher types determine student behaviors and attitudes toward learning. Since perceptions have a personal significance, students tend to focus more on the affective qualities of a teacher. There is an indication that further research is needed to examine how student perceptions relate to student success and student retention.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Educational sociology

Recommended Citation

Hauser, Loretta Maria, "College student perceptions of the importance of teacher influence on student learning" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9123131.