We want our students to think that we know what we are doing. It makes it easier to control the classroom and, for them, it makes it easier to do the assignments. So how do we establish credibility?
One study examined the question of what kinds of offices make professors credible.
Students in the study were taken to an office (the same one portrayed three different ways). They were told they were going to speak to the professor. The same grad student took the students to the office, gave them the same spiel, and, after the same amount of time, said the professor wasn’t coming and asked them to fill out a survey. The survey included questions regarding the credibility of the professor whom they had not met.
One version of the office was pristine and professional. It was tidy and had diplomas on the wall.
One version of the office was messy, with papers everywhere and books open.
One version of the office was very personal, filled with green plants and family pictures.
The results of the survey showed that, in comparison to students in the control group who were not escorted to the professor’s office, all the students who went to the office graded the professor higher in credibility. It did not matter which office the students came to, it only mattered if they came to an office.
So, if you want to help your students and increase your credibility, make sure your students get into your office during the semester.
I would expect that early is better than later in terms of the usefulness of credibilty to the class situation, but get them in.
From a master’s thesis at Illinois State University by Jason Teven.