By: Kristen Rousch, PhD
Master teacher. The idea is a bit of a misnomer. It sounds intimidating. It suggests a long, protracted process—maybe even an elite status. But that’s not what it is at all.
There are no years of required experience. No official credentials. Rather, it is far more aspirational, as it refers to a set of behaviors that distinguish the great teachers from the rest.
Below is a list of 28 traits taken from a study conducted by Buskist & Keeley (2005). Both faculty (N=118) and students (N=917) had to agree for a trait to be listed. Students provided examples of corresponding behaviors (listed in parentheses). Asterisks indicate the top 10 traits rated by students. Caret symbols indicate the top-10 traits rated by faculty.
Master Teacher Traits
^ Accessible (Posts office hours, gives out phone number and e-mail information)
* ^ Approachable/Personable (Smiles, greets students, initiates conversations, invites questions, responds tolerantly to student comments)
Authoritative (Establishes clear course rules, maintains classroom order, speaks in a loud, strong voice)
Confident (Speaks clearly, makes eye contact, and answers questions assertively)
* ^ Creative and Interesting (Experiments with teaching methods; uses technological devices to support and enhance lectures; uses interesting, relevant, and personal examples; not a monotone presenter)