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Unformatted text preview: http:waw.i ntervarsityflrgffilj f339?f339?_3pntlight.html Three eut ef ten students den't knew the names ef their prefessers; aeeerding te Dr. Steven J. Kirsh; a psjrehelegy prefesser. T.m‘hen lflfi students were asked te identify either the first er last names ef the prefesser in a guestien en their first exam ef the semester; 32 students didn't have a clue. Students whe did knew the name ef their pref averaged six pereentage peints higher en the exam. "'I'e students; there is ne reasen te learn the prefesser's name; " eeneedes Kirsh. "It's net semething yeu need te knew te pass a class." [Findings published in Psychelegjr; 1-1 Jeurnal ef Human EEhflViIL‘lI—f 11 PSYCHOLOGY: A JOURNAL OF HUMAN BEHAVIOR NAME THAT PROFESSOR Steven J. Kirsh Washburn University Department of Psychology Topeka, Kansas 66621 Introductory psychology students were asked to recall their introductory psychology instructor’s name on the same day they took their first exam. ‘ The exam scores of students who knew their instructor’s name were com- pared with the exam scores of students who did not know their instructor’s name. The former group scored significantly higher on the exam than the latter group. For many professors, the follow- ing scenario may be all too familiar: A student walks into the psychology main office in need of her/his profes- sor and says, “I need to see the in- structor for psychology” (as if there is only one instructor in the entire department). However, when asked to identify the instructor by name, the student responds behaviorally (a simple shoulder shrug and shake of the head) instead of verbally. Com- mon sense suggests that, as com- pared to individuals who learn their professor’s name, students who do not learn their professor’s name are not as dedicated to their studies and would not do as well on exams. Be- cause common sense is not always correct (e.g., Gardner 8: Hand, 1983), the purpose of this study was to ex- amine the relationship between stu- dents’ knowledge of their instructor’s name and their performance on the first exam. METHOD Subjects were 106 students en- rolled in two sections of an introduc- tory psychology course at Washburn University during the fall, 1994 se- mester. Both sections were taught by the same instructor. Students were exposed to the instructor’s name in three ways: first, the instructor’s name was posted along with the cor- responding course and section num- bers in the course catalog; second, on i i l l the first day of class the instructor , announced his name; and finally, the instructor’s name was listed on the I syllabus. Three weeks into the fall semes- D ter, a 50 item multiple choice exam , was administered. In order to earn 1 ‘. extra-credit point, students were ‘ ‘ asked to write down the name of their ) psychology professor. An answer was ,4 scored as correct if either the instructor’s first or last name was .1 reported (spelling did not count). Stu- dents who knew their professor’s) name were labeled “Knowers,” whereas students that were unable P to recall their professor’s name were ' labeled as “Non-knowers.” I I v RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Approximately 30% (N=32) of the students did not know their professor’s name. This finding is striking considering the fact that stu~ dents Were given ample opportunity ' learn their professor’s name. Re- search on memory suggests that . ords that have personal meaning - are remembered better than words without meaning (McGeoch & Irion, ,. 1952). Thus, one possible explanation for this finding is that before the first exam, many students do not perceive the professor’s name as being Very v' meaningful. However, the reasons for ' why students do or do not learn their professor’s name has yet to be estab- ' lished. ' Next, an analysis of variance was 1‘ conducted to test for differences in - performance on the first exam be- ' tween Knowers and Non-knowers. Results indicated that students who did not know their instructor’s name scored significantly lower (M=37.6; D= 6.9) than students who did know their instructor’s name (M=40.6; SD=5.9), F(1,105) = 5.4, p = .02. This finding suggests that, ! E: H g 93 a. 3 g on m '3 o '6’ m m o '1 m name, common sense appears to be correct- Students unaware of their professor’s name do not do as well on the first exam as compared to other students. However, if knowing or not know- ‘ ing a professor’s name is supposed to Name That Professor 12 indicate interest or lack of interest in learning course material, the dif- ferences in exam scores between the two groups (3 points) were not as great as one might expect. Whereas for some students, failure to learn their professor’s name is just one more bit of information that they do not learn. For other students, failure to learn their professor’s name is in- consistent with their exam prepara- tion and performance. Again, the meaningfulness, or more accurately, the lack of meaningfulness of the professor’s name may account for the failure of committed students to learn their professor’s name. For stu- dents who are dedicated to their stud- ies, course content is very meaning- ful information because students know that they will be tested on it. The professor’s name, however, may hold no interest to them, and thus no meaning, for they can not foresee how knowing or not knowing a professor’s name could affect their grade. REFERENCES Gardner, R.M., & Hund, RM. (1983). Misconceptions of psychology among academicians. Racking of Psychology, 10, 20-22. McGeoch, J.A., & Irion, A.J. (1952). ‘ The psychology of human learning (2nd ed.). New York: McKay. ...
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