The role of teachers at university: What do high achiever students look for?

Main Article Content

Sílvia Monteiro
Leandro S. Almeida
Rosa M. Vasconcelos


The perceptions of students about their teachers have interested the academic and scientific community, regarding the improvement of the quality of higher education. This paper presents data obtained from interviews conducted with ten high achiever engineering students and focuses on the characteristics of teachers that are highly valued by the participants. Furthermore, the influence of teachers on the development of the students was explored. The data collected describes a set of aspects from the scientific, pedagogic and emotional domains, which students identified about their teachers. Some reflections and practical implications are also presented with regard to the characteristics and pedagogical needs of high achievers.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Monteiro, S., Almeida, L. S., & Vasconcelos, R. M. (2012). The role of teachers at university: What do high achiever students look for?. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 12(2), 65–77. Retrieved from


Arnold, K. D. (1994). The Illinois Valedictorian Project: Early adult careers of academically talented male high school students. In R. F. Subotnik & K. D. Arnold (Eds.), Beyond Terman: contemporary longitudinal studies of giftedness and talent (pp. 24-51). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

Biggs, J. (2000). Teaching for quality at university: What the student does? Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education.

Bogdan, R., & Biklen, S. K. (2002). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods (Fifth Edit.). Boston: Pearson.

Carbonneau, N., Vallerand, R., Fernet, C., & Guay, F. (2008). The role of passion for teaching in intrapersonal and interpersonal outcomes. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(4), 997-987.

Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate. AAHE Bulletin, 39(7), 3-7.

Csikszentmihalyi, M., Rathunde, K., & Whalen, S. (1996). Talented teenagers: The roots of success and failure. Cambridge Univ Pr.

Davies, J., Arlett, C., Carpenter, S., Lamb, F., & Donaghy, L. (2006). What makes a good engineering lecturer? Students put their thoughts in writing. European Journal of Engineering Education, 31(5), 543-553.

Entwistle, N. (1991). Approaches to learning and perceptions of the learning environment. Higher Education, 22(3), 201–204. Springer.

Ericsson, K. A. (1998). The scientific study of expert levels of performance: General implications for optimal learning and creativity. High Ability Studies, 9(1), 75-100.

Ericsson, K. A., & Lehmann, A. C. (1996). Expert and exceptional performance: evidence of maximal adaptation to task constraints. Annual Review of Psychology, 47, 273-305.

Feldhusen, J. F. (1996). How to identify and develop special talents. Educational Leadership, 53(5), 66-69.

Freeman, J. (1998). Educating the Very Able: Current International Research. London: The Stationery Office.

Gagné, F. (2004). Transforming gifts into talents: the DMGT as a developmental theory. High Ability Studies, 15(2), 119-147.

Heller, K. A. (2004). Identification of gifted and talented students. Psychological Science, 46(3), 302-323.

Heller, K. A. (2005). Education and counseling of the gifted and talented in Germany. International Journal, 27(2), 191-210.

Heller, K., & Viek, P. (2000). Support for university students: Individual and social factors. In C. F. M. Lieshout & P. G. Heymans (Eds.), Developing Talent Across The Life Span (pp. 299-321). Hove: Psychology Press.

Hu, S., & Kuh, G. D. (2002). Being (Dis)Engaged in Educationally Purposeful Activities: The Influences of Student and Institutional Characteristics. Research in Higher Education, 43(5), 555-575.

Kaufmann, F. A., Harrel, G., Milam, C. P., Woolverton, N., & Miller, J. (1986). The nature, role, and influence of mentors in the lives of gifted adults. Journal of Counseling & Development, 64(9), 576.

Korthagen, F. A. J. (2004). In search of the essence of a good teacher : towards a more holistic approach in teacher education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 77-97.

Krauss, S., Brunner, M., Kunter, M., Baumert, J., Blum, W., Neubrand, M., & Jordan, A. (2008). Pedagogical content knowledge and content knowledge of secondary mathematics teachers. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), 716-725.

Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Buckley, J. A., Bridges, B. K., & Hayek, J. C. (2006). What matters to student success: A review of the literature. Commissioned report for the National Symposium on Postsecondary Student Success: Spearheading a Dialogue on Student Success. Retrieved from

Lawler, E. M., Chen, X. M., & Venso, E. A. (2007). Students perspectives on teaching techniques and outstanding teachers. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 7(2), 32-48.

Lubinski, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2006). Study of mathematically precocious youth after 35 Years: Uncovering antecedents for the development of math-science expertise. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 1(4), 316-345.

Lubinski, D., Benbow, C. P., Webb, R. M., & Bleske-rechek, A. (2006). Tracking exceptional human capital over two decades. Psychological Science, 17(3), 194-199.

Martens, B. K., & Witt, J. C. (2004). Competence, persistence, and success: The positive psychology of behavioral skill instruction. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), 19-30.

Mckeachie, W. B. J. (2002). Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. (11th Editi., pp. 117-126). College Teaching Series.

Menges, R. J., & Austin, A. E. (2001). Teaching in Higher Education. In V. Richardson (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching (pp. 1123-1156). Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

Molenaar, I., van Boxtel, C. A. M., & Sleegers, P. J. C. (2011). Metacognitive scaffolding in an innovative learning arrangement. Instructional Science, 39, 785-803.

Mooney, M., & Mooney, P. (2001). A Student Teaching-based Instructional Model. Civil Engineering, 17(1), 10-16.

Paris, S. G., & Turner, J. C. (1994). Situated motivation. In P. R. Pintrich, D. R. Brown, & C. E. Weinstein (Eds.), Student Motivation, Cognition and Learning (Lawrence E., pp. 213 237). New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.

Ramsden, P. (1992). Learning to Teach in Higher Education. London: Routledge.

Ramsden, P. (1997). The context of learning in academic departments. The Experience of Learning (Vol. 2, pp. 198–216). Scottish Academic Press Edinburgh.

Renzulli, J. S. (2002). Emerging Conceptions of Giftedness: Building a Bridge to the New Century. Exceptionality, 10(2), 67-75. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Renzulli, J. S. (2005). Applying gifted education pedagogy to total talent development for all students. Theory into practice, 44(2), 80-89.

Renzulli, J. S., Gubbins, E. J., Siegle, D., Zhang, W., & Chen, C. (2005). Assumptions Underlying the Identification of Gifted and Talented Students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 49(1), 68-79.

Savery, J. R., & Duffy, T. M. (1995). Problem based learning: An instructional model and its constructivist framework. Educational Technology, 35, 31-38.

Schilling, J. (2006). On the Pragmatics of Qualitative Assessment Designing the Process for Content Analysis. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 22(1), 28-37.

Skinner, E. A., Belmont, M. J., Lynch, M., Mellor-crummey, C., Miserandino, M., Patrick, B., Regan, C., et al. (1993). Motivation in the Classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year. Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 571-581.

Skinner, E., Furrer, C., Marchand, G., Kindermann, T., Sherwood, H., & Usinger, P. (2008). Engagement and disaffection in the classroom: Part of a larger motivational dynamic ? Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(4), 765-781.

Smith, T. W., & Strahan, D. (2004). Toward a prototype of expertise in teaching: A descriptive case study. Journal of Teacher Education, 55(4), 357-371.

Strauss, A. L., & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics of qualitative research. Sage Newbury Park, CA.

Subotnik, R., & Arnold, K. D. (1993). Longitudinal studies of giftedness: Investigating the fulfillment of promise. In K. A. Heller, F. J. Monks, & A. H. Passow (Eds.), International Handbook of Research and Development of Giftedness and Talent. Oxford: Pergamon.

Tesch, R. (1990). Qualitative research: Analysis types and software tools (Vol. 337). New York: Falmer Press.

Tomlinson, C. A., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C. M., Moon, T. R., Conover, L. A., & Reynolds, T. (2003). Differentiating Instruction in Response to Student Readiness, Interest, and Learning Profile in Academically Diverse Classrooms: A Review of Literature. Journal of the Education of the Gifted, 27(2/3), 119-45.

Trost, G. (2000). Prediction of excellence in school, higher education and work. In K. A. Heller, F. Monks, R. J. Sternberg, & R. F. Subotnik (Eds.), International Handbook of Giftedness and Talent (2nd ed., pp. 317-330). Oxford: Pergamon.

Verbi. (2007). MAXQDA. Marburg, Germany: Consult. Sozialforschung. GmbH.

Whittemore, R., Chase, S. K., & Mandle, C. L. (2001). Validity in Qualitative Research. Qualitative Health Research, 11(4), 522-537.

Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 17, 89-100.

Zuckerman, H. (1992). The scientific elite: Nobel Laureates’ mutual influences. In R. S. Albert (Ed.), Genius and eminence (2nd ed., pp. 157-169). Oxford: Pergamon.