Student Perceptions of Great Teaching A Qualitative Analysis

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Robert S. Bledsoe
Deborah South Richardson
Ashley Kalle


What behaviors do students consider as representative of exemplary teaching? Do those representations vary by context? This study evaluates 176 student nominations for a teaching award that asked nominators to articulate specific acts by individual instructors that exemplify “great teaching.” Through an iterative process, our content analysis identified 10 themes, which generally represent socioemotional connection, behaviors relevant to student learning, and instructor characteristics. We also identified two themes—the instructor as a model and as someone whose efforts exceed expectations—that do not appear frequently in existing literature. The quantitative analysis revealed that frequency of themes differed for instructors from traditional liberal arts and sciences disciplines and those from professional programs in the health sciences.


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Bledsoe, R. S., Richardson, D. S., & Kalle, A. (2021). Student Perceptions of Great Teaching: A Qualitative Analysis. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(3).
Author Biographies

Robert S. Bledsoe, Augusta University

Robert S. Bledsoe, Ph. D., is a Professor of German at Augusta University. He has served as Director of the Humanities Program and Associate Director of the Office of Faculty Development and Teaching Excellence. His research currently focuses on the effectiveness of Reacting to the Past, active learning and role-playing pedagogies, as well as the impact of mindset on student learning and faculty development.

Deborah South Richardson, Augusta University

Deborah South Richardson, PhD, is a Professor of Psychological Sciences & Assoc. Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Science and Mathematics at Augusta University. She has conducted scholarly work about the teaching of psychology for three decades and continues to collaborate with colleagues on research projects addressing issues of educational development and the scholarship of teaching and learning.


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