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"Learning from Exemplary Teachers"

James A. Gentry and Robin Pratt


First Author :

James A. Gentry
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1206 S. Sixth Street, M/C 706
Champaign, IL 61820

Second Author :

Robin Pratt
Performance Equations, Inc.

Abstract :
Exemplary teaching is of limited use unless other teachers can learn from the exemplars and improve their teaching effectiveness. One objective of this paper is to use The Attentional & Interpersonal Style (TAIS) inventory to identify and analyze the characteristics of exemplary university teachers of finance. A second objective is to use the significant characteristics f exemplary teachers (Ets) to help colleagues improve their teaching effectiveness and improve student learning.

The literature associated with exemplary teaching is constructed on a foundation of empirical research that is based on student learning and assessment of teaching. Lowman concluded exemplary college teachers excelled in at least one of two dimensions: the ability to create intellectual excitement in students and/or interpersonal rapport with students.

A two-pronged approach was used to identify exemplary teachers of finance. One group of Ets was nominated by the chair or head of finance departments from a large sample of American universities. A list of 17 criteria were developed to identify the Ets. Another group of Ets was identified in a Business Week survey of MBA students. We compared these two groups of Ets with a sampling of finance department colleagues who had not been nominated for the ET status as well as with a group of department chairs/heads.

Using TAIS inventory, we discovered that the exemplary teachers of finance were more aware of how others react, extroverted, likely to express support, controlling or in charge, confident and eager to multitask. In addition, the Ets wrote a brief explanation of why they felt they were recognized as exemplary teachers. These comments provided rich insights into the multi-dimensional characteristics of these outstanding teachers. Using the six significant TAIS characteristics and the Ets accompanying suggestions and recommendations, we were able to provide guidance for all finance teachers about how to improve their teaching effectiveness and student learning.

The paper concludes by suggesting the addition of a third dimension to Lowmanís two-dimensional model of effective college teaching. The third dimension is identified as confident adaptability. A three-dimensional exemplary teacher space is presented and the insights are discussed.
Manuscript Received : 2001
Manuscript Published : 2001
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