If the Walls Could Talk: Student Perspectives on What Makes for a “Good” Teacher

Sunday, 8 November 2015: 11:00 AM

Theresa M. Valiga, EdD, RN, CNE, ANEF, FAAN
School of Nursing, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Ashley Munteanu, BSN, RN
Undisclosed, San Mateo, CA, USA

There is extensive literature regarding “what the best teachers do” and what makes for a “good” teacher. Some of this literature is based on research, and some is anecdotal in nature. Oftentimes, descriptions of “good teachers” are generated from an analysis of principles of quality teaching/learning or from an analysis of feedback from students. In most instances, however, the students interviewed or studied are undergraduates, the descriptions of “good teachers” relate to individuals teaching K-12 or undergraduate courses, and the subjects referenced are general in nature (e.g., Biology) rather than part of a professional education curriculum.

The study reported here examined discussion forum postings made by graduate nursing students in an online course about facilitating student learning to “surface” their descriptions of what makes for a “good” teacher. Substantial Forum postings on five learning-focused topics in each of five semesters of the course were analyzed, using qualitative methods, and themes emerging from those postings were identified. These themes will be identified and explained, representative quotes from students will be provided to illustrate each theme, and implications of the findings will be discussed.  Additionally, participants will be invited to engage in discussion about the barriers that make excellent teaching difficult to achieve, as well as the knowledge, skill and support needed to achieve excellence as a teacher.

This study helps faculty teaching in a professional program such as nursing understand how those students define “good teachers,” compare those definitions with descriptions of “good teachers” found in the literature, and reflect on their own practices as teachers.