What Kind of Instructor Are You?

Basic information

Teaching types

What does this mean for your use of evidence-based teaching methods? Using Max Weber’s theory of ideal types, teaching methods have been classified into two pairs of opposing preferences: highly preplanned vs. highly emergent and focused on the individual vs. focused on the class as a whole.

What type of teacher are you?

If you've taken the teacher type survey, click on your result below to learn more about your teaching personality.

Coach

A coach can best be described by the phrase "I have a plan for each individual." These faculty tend to be highly pre-planned (rather than emergent) and focused on students as individuals (rather than the class as a whole). A coach is aware that individual traits will affect the overall class and helps students fit into his or her overall plan.

Strong uses of a coach's strategy:

  • Has a plan for dealing with typical individual student struggles
  • Gives detailed written feedback to individuals
  • Helps students deal with personal struggles affecting academic performance

Research-based Techniques (see citation details in drop-down menu at bottom of page):

  • Performance-related feedback: Instructor provides extensive comments, de-emphasizing numerical grades (Butler, 1988)
  • Learning via relationship building: Instructor gets to know students personally and adjusts as appropriate (Astin, 2001; Bain, 2004)
  • Differentiation: Instructor treats students with different needs differently (Tomlinson, 1999)
  • Timely feedback: Instructor gets feedback to students quickly, while still relevant (Light, 1990; Wiggins, 1998)
  • Constructivism: Instructor measures and builds on students’ incoming abilities (Garfield, delMas, & Chance, 2007)

Potential barriers:

  • May feel helpless to assist students if they don't respond to the measures put in place for them
  • Time constraints may exist if individual feedback is given to a class with a large number of students
Advisor

An advisor can best be described by the phrase "I am keeping tabs on and responding to each individual." Faculty with this advisor formative assessment strategy tend to be emergent (rather than highly pre-planned) and focused on students as individuals (rather than the class as a whole).

Advisor faculty are characterized by a desire to help students learn to capitalize on their individual strengths.

Strong uses of an advisor's strategy:

  • Willing to adjust pace of class for individual student input/questions
  • Digs into student thinking if questions arise during class
  • Encourages students to visit office hours and offers personalized study advice

Research-based Techniques (see citation details in drop-down menu at bottom of page):

  • Peer instruction: Students are asked questions in class and must select an answer, often a discussion between pairs follows (Crouch & Mazur, 2001; Mazur, 2009)
  • Learning via relationship-building: Instructor gets to know students personally and adjusts (Astin, 2001; Bain, 2004)
  • Small-group activity: Students work in small groups while the instructor circulates (Beichner et al., 1996)
  • Actionable feedback: Instructor’s feedback includes detailed guidance on next steps (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996)
  • Calls on individual students: Instructor structures class direction on individual student responses (Garfield, 1995b)

Potential barriers:

  • Takes feedback from a few individuals as representative of the class without pushing everyone to participate
  • Less feedback provided to students who are hesitant to participate
Governor

A governor can best be described by the phrase "I have a plan for the class as a whole." Faculty with a governor's formative assessment strategy tend to be highly pre-planned (rather than emergent) and focused on the class as a whole (rather than students as individuals). A governor professor comes to class each day with a set of goals and a plan for how to achieve them.

Strong uses of a governor's strategy:

  • Embraces course revisions intended to benefit all students
  • Uses planned check-points to gauge if the class is ready to move on to new material
  • Thoughtful reflection drives experienced-based revisions

Research-based Techniques (see citation details in drop-down menu at bottom of page):

  • Test effect: Students are given tests frequently for the sake of learning (Karpicke & Roediger, 2008; McDaniel & Fisher, 1991)
  • Formative use of summative tests: Instructor uses results of tests to adjust teaching and learning going forward (Black et al., 2003)
  • Reflective teaching: Instructor makes note of instructional successes/difficulties and makes adjustments going forward (Dunn & Shriner, 1999)
  • Backwards design: Instructors aligns assessments with learning goals (McTighe & Thomas, 2003)
  • Expectations made clear: Instructor makes content, processes, and assessment expectations clear (Gronlund & Brookhart, 2008; Ludwig et al., 2011)
  • Faculty peer collaboration: Instructor discusses pedagogical choices and results with other faculty (Wiburg & Brown, 2007)

Potential barriers:

  • Plans formative measures into class time, but revisions come only slowly
  • May ask questions in class for simply rhetorical purposes
Shepherd

A shepherd is best described by the phrase "I am keeping tabs on and responding to the class." These faculty tend to be highly emergent (rather than pre-planned) and focused on the class as a whole (rather than students as individuals). A shepherd professor have a flexible and organic approach to teaching, adjusting their lessons to match the pace of the majority.

Strong uses of a shepherd's strategy:

  • Willing to adjust the pace and focus of the lesson to fit the class
  • Assigns group work and acts as a monitor
  • Makes efficient use of class time by bringing groups back together for whole class

Research-based Techniques (see citation details in drop-down menu at bottom of page):

  • Peer instruction: Students are asked questions in class and must select an answer; often a discussion between pairs follow (Crouch & Mazur, 2001; Mazur, 2009)
  • Questions with wait time: After asking a question, instructor intentionally waits long enough for all students to engage the question (Rowe, 1974)
  • Formative use of summative tests: Instructor uses results of tests to adjust teaching and learning going forward (Black et al., 2003)
  • Small-group activity: Students work in small groups while the instructor circulates (Beichner et al., 1999)
  • Faculty peer collaboration: Instructor discusses pedagogical choices and results with other faculty (Wiburg & Brown, 2007)
  • Comfortable atmosphere: Instructor intentionally makes it inviting for students to participate during class (Boice, Feldman & Paulson, 1998; Freeman et al., 2007)

Potential barriers:

  • Questioning amongst group has potential to disrupt the dynamics of a team that is working well together

How were these four teaching personalities identified?

These teaching personality types were developed from a case-study of 18 STEM professors that analyzed their use of formative assessment techniques. Formative assessment was broken down into the four essential components listed below: clear learning goals, measurement, feedback, and adjustment. After following 18 different professors for one semester, sitting in on at least three class periods, collecting artifacts such as graded student work, interviewing each faculty member after each classroom observation and identifying their use of formative assessment techniques, two preference continuums were seen: highly pre-planned vs highly emergent and focused on individuals vs focused on the class as a whole.

The original study by Kuiper et al. can be found here:

Kuiper, P., VanOeffelen, R., Veldkamp, S., Bokma, I., Breems, L., & Fynewever, H. (2015). Formative assessment and the intuitive incorporation of research-based instruction techniques. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 26(2), 125-157. Read it online.
References and further reading
  • Astin, Alexander W. 2001. What Matters in College?: Four Critical Years Revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. DOI: 10.2307/1176821
  • Bain, K. 2004. What the Best College Teachers Do. Harvard University Press.
  • Beichner, R., L. Bernold, E. Burniston, P. Dail, R. Felder, J. Gastineau, M. Gjertsen, and J. Risley. 1999. “Case Study of the Physics Component of an Integrated Curriculum.” Phys. Educ. Res., J. Phys. Suppl. (67): S16–S24. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.19075
  • Black, Paul, Chris Harrison, Clara Lee, Bethan Marshall, and Dylan William. 2003. Assessment for Learning- Putting It into Practice. Maidenhead, U.K.: Open university Press.
  • Boice, R., K. A. Feldman, and M. B. Paulson. 1998. “Classroom Incivilities.” In Teaching and Learning in the College Classroom. Needham Heights, MA: Simon & Schuster Custom Pub.
  • Butler, Ruth. 1988. “Enhancing and Undermining Intrinsic Motivation: The Effects of Task-Involving and Ego-Involving Evaluation on Interest and Performance.” British Journal of Educational Psychology 58 (1): 1–14.
  • Crouch, C. H., and E. Mazur. 2001. “Peer Instruction: Ten Years of Experience and Results.” Am. J. Phys. (69): 970–977. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.1374249
  • Dunn, T. G., and C. Shriner. 1999. “Deliberate Practice in Teaching: What Teachers Do for Self-improvement.” Teaching and Teacher Education (15): 631–651. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0742-051X(98)00068-7
  • Freeman, T. M., L. H. Anderman, and J. M. Jensen. 2007. “Sense of Belonging in College Freshmen at the Classroom and Campus Levels.” J. of Experimental Educ. (75): 203–220. https://doi.org/10.3200/JEXE.75.3.203-220
  • Garfield, Joan. 1995. “How Students Learn Statistics.” International Statistical Review / Revue Internationale de Statistique 63 (1) (April 1): 25–34. doi:10.2307/1403775.
  • Garfield, Joan, Robert C. delMas, and Beth Chance. 2007. “Notions of Variability to Develop an Understanding of Formal Measures of Variability.” In Thinking with Data. Psychology Press.
  • Gronlund, Norman E., and Susan M. Brookhart. 2008. Gronlund’s Writing Instructional Objectives (8th Edition).
  • Karpicke, Jeffrey D., and Henry L. Roediger. 2008. “The Critical Importance of Retrieval for Learning.” Science 319 (5865) (February 15): 966–968. doi:10.1126/science.1152408. doi: 10.1126/science.1152408.
  • Kluger, A. N., and A. DeNisi. 1996. “The Effects of Feedback Interventions on Performance: a Historical Review, a Meta-analysis, and a Preliminary Feedback Intervention Theory.” Psych. Bull. (119): 254–284. http://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/0033-2909.119.2.254
  • Light, R. 1990. Explorations with Students and Faculty About Teaching, Learning, and Student Life. Vol. 1. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Ludwig, M., A. Bentz, and H. Fynewever. 2011. “Your Syllabus Should Set the Stage for Assessment for Learning.” J. Coll. Sci. Teach (40): 20–23.
  • Mazur, Eric. 2009. “Farewell, Lecture?” Science 323 (5910) (January 2): 50–51. doi:10.1126/science.1168927.
  • McDaniel, Mark A., and Ronald P. Fisher. 1991. “Tests and Test Feedback as Learning Sources.” Contemporary Educational Psychology 16 (2) (April): 192–201. doi:10.1016/0361-476X(91)90037-L.
  • McTighe, J., and R. S. Thomas. 2003. “Backward Design for Forward Action.” Educational Leadership (60): 52–55.
  • Rowe, Mary Budd. 1974. “Relation of Wait-time and Rewards to the Development of Language, Logic, and Fate Control: Part II-Rewards.” Journal of Research in Science Teaching 11 (4): 291–308. doi:10.1002/tea.3660110403.
  • Tomlinson, C.A. 1999. “Mapping a Route Toward a Differentiated Instruction.” Educational Leadership 57: 12.
  • Wiburg, Karin M, and Susan Brown. 2007. Lesson Study Communities: Increasing Achievement with Diverse Students. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press.
  • Wiggins, G. 1998. Educative Assessment. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Questions/contact

Herbert Fynewever

Herbert Fynewever

Associate Professor
Full profile

×

  • Course code:
  • Credits:
  • Semester:
  • Department: