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First Impressions

How do you think your students perceive you? Do you believe it is a fair representation of you or does it really matter?

First Impressions and Professor Reputation: Influence on Student Evaluations of Instruction
Buchert, Stephanie; Laws, Eric L.; Apperson, Jennifer M.; Bregman, Norman J. Social Psychology of Education: An International Journal, 2008-Nov

We examined the effects of professor reputation versus first impressions on student evaluations of instruction. Students in 19 Psychology courses completed course evaluation surveys either before meeting the instructor or 2 weeks into the semester. Both groups then completed the course evaluation again at the end of the semester. Unlike evaluations completed prior to meeting the professor, students' ratings 2 weeks into the semester did not differ from end-of-semester evaluations. Therefore, students considered first impressions more important than professor reputation as determinants of their end-of-the semester evaluations. Results suggest that students form lasting impressions within the first 2 weeks of classes.

During her time at Harvard, Nalini Ambady performed an experiment to examine the effect of first impressions on perception. In this study, she divided students enrolled in a college class into two groups. She showed each group video clip of the professor in action. One group saw clips which depicted the professor as cold and uncaring. The other group saw clips which portrayed the professor as warm and caring. Each student was asked to write an evaluation of the professor after viewing the clip. At the end of the semester the students who saw the videos depicting the professors as warm and caring still described him as warm and caring. Those who began the semester thinking the professor was cold and uncaring ended by describing the professor as cold and uncaring.

Students in a physiology course at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine were asked to evaluate 16 professors who lectured during the course. Students had the option of evaluating each professor at the start of the course, or waiting until the course ended. Students were allowed to change their minds before the evaluations were finalized at the end of the course. The study, published in the December 2010 issue of the journal Advances in Physiology Education, included 144 students. Twenty-six percent filled out evaluations at the start and 65 percent waited until the course ended. Nine percent did not submit evaluations. The scores professors received on early evaluations were markedly similar to the scores they received on evaluations made after the course ended. (In statistical terms, the correlation was .91.) And students rarely changed their minds about professors -- only 3 percent of evaluations were revised before the evaluations were finalized.

Does this really matter in students learning?

students who experience informal interactions tend to be more motivated, engaged, and actively involved in the learning process (Thompson, 2001; Woodside, Wong, & Weist, 1999). Informal interaction between students and faculty has been identified as a primary agent of college culture, and has an important influence on the attitudes, interests, and values of college students (Chickering& Reisser, 1993; Lambert, Terinzini, & Lattuca, 2007; Pascarella, 1980b; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991, 2005; Thompson, 2001) Faculty members allowing students to use their first names are perceived as higher in warmth, approachability, and respect in comparison to faculty members who are addressed by formal titles (McDowell & Westman, 2005).

First Impressions
Syllabus Redesign

First Day
Visual Language Content Introductions Planned lesson

What do you see?

Before After

Learner-Centered Syllabus
A learning centered syllabus requires that you shift from what you, The instructor, are going to cover in your course to a concern for what information and tools can provide for your students to promote learning and intellectual development (Diamond, pp. xi).

Learner-Centered Syllabus
Define students' responsibilities; Define instructor's role and responsibility to students; Provide a clear statement of intended goals and student outcomes; Establish standards and procedures for evaluation;

Acquaint students with course logistics;

Establish a pattern of communication between instructor and students; Include difficult-to-obtain materials such as readings, complex charts, and graphs.

(Diamond, pp. ix):

Mandatory Content: (LACCD) Office hours Contact information

Approved Course SLOs

Basis of Grading Work Product Grading Criteria

Accommodation Statement for Students with Disabilities

Reference to the student code of conduct as it applies to academic dishonesty

You can not count attendance as part of the grade or take off points for lack of attendance

What else should we have?

Teaching Philosophy Purpose of the course Course Objectives Other student resources on campus (labs/ counseling / financial aid ) Textbook ISBN number Study skill suggestions Online resources & difficult-to-obtain materials like videos, readings, charts and graphs.

Establish a pattern of communications between instructor and student

Course title, number, credits Time, Dates & Location List Important Campus dates (drop dates, registration dates, etc.)

Prerequisites to the course


Looking at your syllabus, what would you like to add on your syllabus? What can you remove from your syllabus?

Syllabus Language
The deadline for completing the homework is the day and time of the applicable Midterm. NO LATE WORK WILL BE ACCEPTED. Failure to do the homework (that is, failure to practice/rehearse/prepare for tests) is a sure way to fail any College course. This syllabus is based on the expectation that the student will put in at least two hours of homework for every hour in class. All students are expected to arrive on time and stay for the entire class. Late arrivals are disruptive to both the lecturer and students. Once you are seated, do not leave the room, as such comings and goings are disruptive. Students must turn off all pagers and cell phones while in class. Students are encouraged to ask questions and make comments on the lecture material. This should be done in a courteous manner by raising ones hand and being recognized. Side conversations between students that disrupt the flow of the lecture will not be tolerated as they are a distraction to other students. It is the students responsibility to manage his or her academic workload. It is the students responsibility to know all Add and Drop dates and procedures, and to follow procedures by the deadlines. Also, please be aware of Financial Aid opportunities, and special programs such as EOPS, MESA, and Internship possibilities. DSPS students should inform me ASAP in order to make any applicable arrangements. Except for bottled water, no food or drink in the classroom.

Homework and classwork will be assigned daily. Homework assignments are due at the beginning of the class and no late homework is accepted. If you are absent on any given day you are responsible for having the work by the next class meeting. Your test score will be lowered by 10 percent for every missed assignment.
Taken form a 1997 syllabus for Bamdad Samiis Algebra course.

Regular and punctual attendance is expected from all of us. Unlike most other courses, missing just one mathematics class will immediately place you at a disadvantage because it is difficult, if not impossible, to catch up on the missed material by yourself. To be successful in this and any other math class, expect to spend at least two hours for every class hour. The majority of learning that you do in college courses takes place outside of class. What you get out of this class will depend on how much you put into it. Mathematics is not a spectator sport, you have to put in the work to see the results. Participation is greatly encouraged!

I like my classes to have a fun, encouraging environment. I expect you to come to class with a commitment to learn, take good notes and participate in discussions and classwork. I like group learning in my class. I expect my students to work together and encourage each other. With that being said, I do expect students to abide by the code of conduct in the college handbook. Please do not disrupt the class by talking during lecture or using profane language. I do encourage you to talk and work together during classwork time, but please keep your conversations to a whisper and make sure they are math related.

Pair-Share Activity:

What strikes on looking at the language? Would you change the wording you see and can you think of a better way to use the words?

First Day Lesson Plan:

Why is this course important? What do you want to say about the syllabus? How will you describe the course content, and your role in presenting it to students? You want your students to be excited, and filled with anticipation.

Dont focus on the "do's and don'ts." The content is what motivates the students not the rules. Put a difficult equation on the board or ask some tough questions to demonstrate what skills and information students will learn in the course. Be enthusiastic and optimistic about the course.

Maybe a little razzle dazzle?

Something a little out of the ordinary, unusual or special. Maybe a youtube video? Whatever it takes to make students realize the potential value and intrinsic interest of the course material.

Who are you? What knowledge and experience do you have with the content? Why do you teach college students? Tell students whatever you feel comfortable having them know.

Learn about your students Let them know that you care about who they are as a person. You can give them five minutes to write a short paragraph summarizing what they'd like you to know about them, maybe including some of their fears and expectations about the course. I like to ask them about their favorite cartoon or movie when I take roll. Introduce them to each other Have some sort of icebreaker activity Do a sample lesson Show them what they can expect

Other suggestions
Growth Mindset discussion

First day anxiety free write

Stereotype threat discussion