On the day that schools up and down the United Kingdom announce their GCSE results you might expect that students would have something to say about the performance of their various teachers.
The popular website Rate My Professors is the place that many students go to both praise their teachers and in some cases criticise them. Alongside the opportunity to comment on teaching skills students can also enter a ‘hotness’ rating.
Do students really learn more from teachers with model looks?
Well the idea that how the ‘hotness’ of a teacher impacts learning has been tested by Richard Westfall, Murray Millar and Mandy Walsh at the University of Nevada and reported by the Journal of General Psychology.
The team of academics told over 100 students in the study that they were examining different lecturing styles and asked the students to listen, without taking notes to an audio recording of a 20 minute physics lecture. During the lecture the students were shown photographs of either a very good looking man or woman or a more ordinary looking person. They were told that this was a photograph of the lecturer.
The students then had to do a multiple-choice test about the content of the lecture.
The students who had been shown the picture of the lecturer with the model like looks scored slightly higher results (18.27) than the students who had been shown pictures of a more ordinary looking lecturer (16.68).
The lecturers with the model like looks were rated as being better teachers, healthier and more intelligent by their students than the ordinary looking lecturers were rated by their students.
The more attractive lecturers also won when it came to assessments on ease of being able to pay attention to and motivating the students
The positive impact of having an attractive lecturer was the same when student and lecturer were different gender as they were for when they were the same gender. Which indicated to the researchers that the effect is unlikely to be the result of sexual interest and more likely to be a nature desire to be associated with and to please people that we consider to be attractive.
This is a small study and so it is important not to read too much into the findings. We cannot for instance conclude from the study whether lecturers with model looks aid learning or if the opposite is true and it is more ordinary looking lecturers that hinder learning. We simply cannot say with any certainty.
At the same time, we should not ignore the research either.
There is a difference between being good looking and looking good. The first may be the result of nature, but the second can be created by being healthy, and being generally well turned out.
Sensible trainers, regardless of their looks will always ensure that they are looking their best for every training or learning activity that they are involved in delivering.