They say 'first impression is the last impression', and it seems to be true. A new study has found that a professor's first interaction with pupils has a strong impact on them.
Students in a physiology course at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine were asked to evaluate 16 professors who lectured during the course.
They had the option of evaluating each professor concurrently during the course, or waiting until the course ended. Students were allowed to change their minds before the evaluations were finalized at the end of the course.
The study found scores professors received on early evaluations were markedly similar to the scores they received on evaluations made after the course ended.
And students rarely changed their minds about professors-only three percent of evaluations were revised before the evaluations were finalized.
"Students tended not to change their scores and comments, regardless of the time they submitted their evaluations. Hence, first impressions appear to be important," wrote the researchers.
"The first lecture a faculty member gives to a class really sets the impression. The professor is either going to click with the student's learning style, or not," said John A. McNulty, first author of the study.
In the most recent evaluations, the average score for basic science faculty was 4.2, and the average score for clinical faculty (physicians) was 4.38.
"We have a really good faculty," McNulty said. "The distribution of scores is skewed toward the high end."
The findings were published in the journal Advances in Physiology Education.