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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Interpersonal Goals in College Teaching
by McGinty, Courtney Kristine, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2013, 84; 3734676
Abstract (Summary)

The instructor-student relationship is an important predictor of students' attitudes, motivation, and learning. Students benefit when they believe their instructor cares about them and instructors demonstrate caring for their students by supporting their needs. Instructors can support students' emotionally or academically. However, little is known about instructor characteristics that influence instructors' responsiveness to students.

Compassionate and self-image goals are powerful predictors of relationship dynamics because of their association with responsiveness (Canevello & Crocker, 2010). Compassionate goals, or goals focused on supporting others out of genuine concern for others' well-being (Crocker & Canevello, 2008), initiate positive relationship cycles. I proposed two types of compassionate goals, focused either on supporting students' learning or supporting students' emotions. I hypothesized that instructors' compassionate goals to support students' learning would be most beneficial to students. Self-image goals, or goals focused on creating and maintaining a desired impression in others' eyes (Crocker & Canevello, 2008), undermine healthy relationships. I proposed two types of self-image goals, focused on appearing either likable or competent and hypothesized that both forms of self-image goals would undermine the instructor-student relationship.

The present work was the first investigation of the association between college instructors' compassionate and self-image goals and students' experiences in the class. In Study 1, I created a scale to measure instructors' compassionate and self-image goals for teaching. In Study 2, college instructors' compassionate and self-image goals for teaching were used to predict end-of-semester student evaluations. In Study 3, students' interpretations of their instructors' goals were measured and used to predict student evaluations.

Results indicated that that students respond most positively to instructors' goals to compassionate goals to support their learning. Instructors' compassionate goals to support students' emotions are largely unrelated to students' experiences in the class. Surprisingly, instructors' self-image goals are unrelated to student evaluations.

Overall, this research advances research in several domains. It advances understanding of effective teaching by indicating that instructors' compassionate and self-image are important components of the college classroom. This research also advances theory on interpersonal goals, as this is the first time that a non-relationship compassionate goal has been identified.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Crocker, Jennifer
Commitee: Fazio, Russell, Stevens, Maurice, Way, Baldwin
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Psychology
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-B 77/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Pedagogy, Higher education
Keywords: College teaching, Instructor-student relationship, Interpersonal goals, Student attitudes, Student learning, Student motivation
Publication Number: 3734676
ISBN: 978-1-339-23311-6
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