With a name sure to strike fear in the heart of any undergraduate business student, conjoint analysis potentially has a lot to teach university administrators and marketers about what makes a good professor. Researchers in India recently used conjoint analysis to find what qualities in teachers students liked the most.
Conjoint analysis is a technique used by researchers to determine how individuals value certain characteristics or benefits. The study found that by far the highest rated quality in instructor was proficiency in subject matter, 61%, followed by discipline, 21%, and faculty/student relationship coming in last at 15%.
What this clearly tells us is faculty/student relationship may not matter as much as common sense may indicate. The value this has for higher ed marketers is that instead of focusing on the one-on-one aspect of classroom learning, marketing materials should perhaps be more focused on the academic credentials of the faculty.
Faculty were rated on their ability to raise and discuss issues related to the subject matter and simplify complex topics, for example, in the case of subject proficiency; their punctuality and time-management in the case of discipline.
For faculty/student relationship, the importance of such factors as how a faculty relates to a student, and how approachable instructors were inside and outside of the classroom, was tested.
Incidentally, the study also found that faculty rating sites like ratemyprofessor.com have taken their toll on the mental health of instructors, who often take the ratings personally. So be gentle out there when rating professors, they’re definitely reading.