Knowing the “Ins and Outs” of Interaction: How Context Affects Professor-student Relationships at St. Olaf College
Jennifer Sackrison and Kaitlin Gemar
Title: Knowing the “Ins and Outs” of Interaction: How context affects professor-student relationships at St. Olaf
Authors: Kaitlin Gemar and Jennifer Sackrison
St. Olaf College. Subjects sampled from professor, student and administration population.
We wanted to explore three aspects of professor-student relationships: What kind of relationship is officially promoted? What relationships exist in reality? Why are the relationships working the way they are?
We conducted two student focus groups with seven participants each. We conducted oral interviews with four students, five professors and one admissions counselor. In addition we looked at documents, the St. Olaf website and brochures for prospective students.
Student and professor interaction is formed by socialization to norms of formality in the classroom. We wanted to look at the ways in which this affected professor-student relationships and how professors and students either followed or rejected these internalized norms.
Student-professor relationships are integral to the functioning of collegiate institutions. The purpose of this research is to examine the promotion, reality, and reasons that shape student-professor interaction at St. Olaf College. We used a multi-method approach including focus groups, interviews and document assessment to gather our data. We found that students and professors generally described the officially promoted relationship as friendly and personal. In addition, professors and students feel that the officially promoted relationship is a reality based on their experiences on campus. Availability is the greatest factor contributing to the establishment of the professor-student relationship. Age, gender and department of professors and students seem to have relatively little impact on student-professor interaction. Interestingly, many students and professors discuss their roles and relationships in terms of the context in which they occurred, either inside or outside of the classroom. Students and professors attributed formality to the classroom and intimacy to outside the classroom. Foucault and Goffman provide helpful theories to explain the dichotomy of context. We find that when establishing professor-student relationships that context dominates personality.
Our research was conducted at St. Olaf College, a liberal arts undergraduate institution in Northfield, Minnesota. Northfield is a small (population 17,000) rural community located 40 miles south of the Twin Cities. The campus itself is located on a hill surrounded by residential neighborhoods and privately owned farms.
Approximately 3,000 students attend St. Olaf College, and the student faculty ratio is about 12:1. Of these students enrolled at St. Olaf, 58% are female and 42% are male. 15% are first generation students. The following is the breakdown of students by class standing (in percent): first year: 27, sophomore: 24, junior: 25, senior: 24. The average GPA of students at St. Olaf College is 3.22. The student body is predominately white upper-middle class with a growing minority population. Within the past several years the minority population has increased to approximately 10% (www.stolaf.edu/admissions/applying/profile.html).
St. Olaf is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and has a strong Norwegian heritage traced back to the college’s founding in 1874 by Norwegian immigrants. Students primarily live in on-campus housing, either in dormitories or honor houses. Official policy designates St. Olaf campus as alcohol-free. St. Olaf is known for its excellence in chemistry, pre-medical, music, and abroad programs (www.stolaf.edu/admissions/applying/profile.html).
As students at St. Olaf College we engage daily in interaction with professors, an act usually taken for granted. Often we see this interaction as a simple dialogue, but rarely do we reflect on the complex systems of discourse that inform how we interact with our professors. This led us to examine the professor-student relationship at St. Olaf College through three initial categories of inquiry: How is it promoted? How is it working? Why is it working that way?
Literature on the subject of student-professor relations helped us to think about possible theoretical frameworks and important interview questions. Initially, a dissertation abstract by Hamood Al-Harthi on Foucault’s theories on power-knowledge relations in education was a helpful starting point in establishing a theoretical framework. Further investigation into resources on Foucault’s theory helped elucidate power/knowledge theory. In Foucault and Educational Research Marshall interprets Foucault’s theories on power/knowledge relations and disciplinary institutions. But in addition, Marshall provides an outline of how Foucault would begin to analyze the power/knowledge relationships of these institutions. Five main categories of analysis include: examining laws and traditions, institutional objectives, examining how power is established, looking at forms of institutionalization (like the family), and exploring the rationalization of power structure (Marshall 1990: 24).
For Foucault, knowledge is a means of wielding power (Marshall 1990: 15). Often knowledge is used in processes like socialization and institutionalization to gain control over individuals (Marshall 24). These processes are most effective because they do not involve coercion, but rather an internalization of norms by the dominated group (Ritzer 2004: 589). We wondered if the reason why professor-student interactions occur as they do could be attributed to the internalization of social norms attached to educational institutions. Accordingly, we included in our interview and focus group scripts questions that asked about their elementary and secondary education and the transition to an undergraduate setting.
We looked to previous research on professor-student relations in order to determine what independent variables to explore. In addition these studies helped to generate important questions that would help us gain relevant and accurate findings.
Wilson, Woods, and Gaff explored in their article, “Social-Psychological Accessibility and Faculty-Student Interaction Beyond the Classroom”, how professor roles and availability affect student-professor contact outside of the classroom. They addressed the developing issue of professors being required to be on many different boards, to publish works, and devote more of their time to causes other than the education of their students (Wilson 1974: 79). Office hours, and the faithfulness to these hours were another variable that the authors considered. Wilson, Woods, and Gaff concluded that even though professors may have had many other obligations, this did not have a negative effect on student-professor relations (Wilson 1974: 80). The most important factor was faculty attitude toward out-of-class interaction. Office hours must be honored and the professor must be genuinely interested (Wilson 1974: 82). Teaching forms also affected relationships (Wilson 1974: 81). Those professors who allowed for more student involvement in class discussion and class plan appeared to generate better student-professor relationships (Wilson 1974: 84-5). Like the authors of this article, we are curious about how the style of teaching and the availability of office hours affect the professor-student relationship at St. Olaf. We had not previously thought about how the many roles that a professor must take on may affect this relationship and we addressed this issue in our interviews.
Finally several research articles addressed the issue of gender and professor-student relations. Many articles reported a difference in relations based on the gender of the professor and student. For example, an article in Sex Roles reported the findings of a study done by Sears and Hennessey on the effect of gender on student-professor contact. They referred to several studies conducted on this same topic and their findings are consistent: students feel more close to female professors (Sears 1996: 685). Sears and Hennessey speculated on the reasons for this result. Based on their study, reasons include: students feel female professor were more “warm,” students feel female professors had a more personal class-room style of teaching, and that some students may attribute a more traditional image of the female professor as more “nurturing” (Sears 1996: 656-7). What is surprising is that this was apparently the case for both female and male students (Sears 1996: 657). One of the independent variables that our study addresses is the gender of the professor as well as that of the student.
Even though we were able to find these articles on professor-student relationships we were surprised at the lack of prior research into this subject area. The research that we did find dealt primarily with gender issues and professor availability. However, we did not find any research the effect of age or the differences between academic departments. We felt that these additional independent variables might be important in our research on professor-student relations. Because there is a lack of material on the subject we feel that this is an important topic to explore.
As our research progressed we began to see trends in our data that we felt might be supported by additional theory we had not yet explored. We were beginning to see evidence that suggests that students and professors classify their relationships based on their context. Because the roles of the professor and the student depended upon whether the interaction was inside or outside of the classroom, we thought that Goffman’s theory of dramaturgy would be useful in the analysis of our data. Concepts like the “frontstage” the “backstage” and “mystification” help to explain how individuals interact (Ritzer 2004: 359-60). We thought that the idea of the theater was in many ways analogous to the classroom. These ideas are further developed in the theoretical discussion in our findings.
To begin our study on professor-student relations we first identified possible subjects and concluded that professors, students and administrators could all provide informed answers to our questions. We conducted focus group and oral interviews, engaged in participant observation on guided tours, and examined online and paper resources regarding St. Olaf’s promotion of student-professor relationships. Subjects were chosen using a snowball method of sampling. The St. Olaf Institutional Review Board approved our research proposal on March 15, 2005. The research was classified as research practicum, project level three which required approval by a member of the Human Subjects Review Committee and the instructor of the course. Following approval we issued invitations via email for focus groups. Focus groups were held Thursday, March 7, 2005 from 8:00-9:00pm and Monday, March 11, 2005 from 8:00-9:00pm. Both focus groups were comprised of seven students, each consisting of six females and one male. The percentage of males in this case being only 14% is much lower than the actual percentage of males at St. Olaf, which is 42%. Since fewer males were represented in focus groups, we made an effort to conduct more individual interviews with male students to make up for this discrepancy. We tape recorded these focus groups and transcribed them as accurately as possible. We felt focus groups were an advantage because students would be able to share their opinions and build off of each other’s ideas to give us the greatest quality and quantity of information.
Following the completion of student focus groups, we gathered a sample of students with whom we would conduct student interviews. Again we contacted students via email invites using the snowballing method of sampling. We conducted student interviews from Wednesday, April 20th through Monday, April 25th. They were conducted at a place and time convenient for the interviewee. We interviewed three males and one female. Interviews lasted approximately 45 minutes. These interviews were also taped and transcribed. Oral interviews were also helpful because students were able to say things without the discomfort of fellow peers being present. We hoped that this would openly share their thoughts and opinions.
A critical part of our investigation involved professor insight into professor-student relations on campus. We had initially wanted to use a stratified random sample of professors from five major areas of liberal arts education including English, Natural Sciences, Mathematics, Humanities and Language. Rather than actually using a stratified random sample we contacted professors with whom we had prior contact from each of the categories listed above. We hoped this method would provide us with willing and insightful subjects for our interviews. We contacted these professors via email and conducted these interviews from April 21st through April 27th. Interviews were conducted in their offices at a time convenient for them. These interviews were taped and transcribed and lasted approximately 45 minutes. We decided to simply conduct interviews, rather than focus groups, due to time constraints of both professors and researchers. In order to investigate the officially promoted relationship, we conducted an interview with an admissions counselor from the St. Olaf admissions office.
Finally we gathered data through our analysis of documents that St. Olaf uses to endorse professor-student relations on campus. We obtained brochures from the admissions office and explored the St. Olaf website for prospective students. We felt this would be helpful in gaining insight into how St. Olaf portrays the student-professor relationships so that we might compare it to the reality expressed by professors and students.
For all subjects participating in focus groups or oral interviews, we ensured confidentiality and obtained their written consent. Each person was given a project information form to read, was able to ask questions and decide whether or not to participate based on their comfort with the research subject. If subjects agreed to participate, they were required to sign a subject consent form.
The snowballing method of sampling presents difficulties in terms of obtaining a sample that is representative of the actual demographics of students and professors at St. Olaf. There were no minorities present in focus groups or interviews and while only 10% of the student body is considered a minority, to be truly representative, we should have had representation in our sample. The following is a breakdown of gender and class standing student participants compared to the actual St. Olaf student body:
Gender Sample St. Olaf College
Women 72% 58%
Men 28% 42%
First Year 0% 27%
Sophomore 44% 24%
Junior 39% 25%
Senior 17% 24%
*Figures calculated from St. Olaf’s website at http://www.stolaf.edu/admissions/applying/profile.html
In terms of gender, females are over represented. This may affect trends that emerge in our findings and since first years represent the largest proportion of students at St. Olaf College it would have been beneficial to have them represented in our sample. The under representation of males and first years will make it more difficult to accurately generalize our findings. Despite their under representation, first-year students have less experience at St. Olaf and their views on student-professors relationships may be less relevant because they generally have fewer and less in-depth relationships with professors. 79% of subjects interviewed were students, and 21% were professors. This seems to reflect relatively accurately the student-professor ratio at St. Olaf.
In terms of sample size, students are well represented. Eighteen of the subjects interviewed were students. We only interviewed five professors and while they were all from different departments, smaller sample sizes will always produce less accurate information. We feel this is partly due to time constraints of both student researchers and professors.
Regarding our methodology, we have discovered that focus groups do have weaknesses associated with them. Although focus groups do provide a wealth of information, no matter how much encouragement the moderator gives students to speak openly, some students may be silent or not speak their own thoughts due to intimidation. This could distort our findings.
Despite the weaknesses in sampling and methodology outlined above, we believe that our research methods have strengths. Our strength lies in using multiple forms of data gathering. The weaknesses in focus groups due to possible intimidation can be ameliorated by individual interviews, which provide a more comfortable atmosphere for students. At the same time focus groups can allow a greater exchange of ideas. Document analysis can also provide information that subjective persons cannot. It is left up to the researchers as outsiders to take note of things that subjects may take for granted. Additionally, paper documents provide concrete means of getting information that does not pose any sort of time constraint on researchers or subjects.
In addition to multiple methods, we are also using multiple perspectives. We have attempted to obtain viewpoints from professors, students and administration in order to have a more holistic understanding of the question posed by our research. Because we have multiple methods and perspectives we feel that our findings will be meaningful and accurate despite any minor methodological weaknesses.
As social creatures we all present ourselves according to how we can best please others. St. Olaf College as an institution is no exception. Promotion for the college is like advertising for any business: highlight strengths that mirror consumer interest. The reality is that the official promotion often differs from the reality of the product being offered. Student-professor relationships, in a sense, are a commodity. A professor speaking about the official promotion of professor-student relations noted that colleges often take the “consumer approach” where “students are here to simply further their own sort of mission and I am here simply to give you a product or a service…It’s sort of reduced to students are here to get…credits and grades. I am here to deliver credits and grades and that does have a certain kind of sterile atmosphere.” St. Olaf strives to go beyond the business exchange often promoted by larger colleges and universities. However we are interested in looking at any potential discrepancies between the officially promoted student-professor relationship and the relationship as experienced in reality.
Admissions counselors are highly involved in the promotion of professor-student relationships to prospective students. Their primary mode of promotion is through interviews with high school students and an admissions counselor reported, “I’m pretty sure 95% of my interviews we talk about student-teacher relationships.” She went on to describe the nature of the officially promoted relationship saying, “At St. Olaf it’s very proactive, you are challenging the professor and the professor is challenging you. You both grow through the process and so I think it’s a very engaged relationship…Is it a mentor relationship? I would say we’re all growing together; it’s that community aspect that I think is emphasized at St. Olaf.”
This admissions counselor also focused on professor availability when describing the promoted professor-student relationship, including office hours and proximity of professor homes to campus. She remarked, “I think they have great office hours. The fact that all of our professors have set office hours where students can go in and get help or even just talk about a subject that maybe they wanted more details on than they got in class… I think another thing that we talk about with the student-professors relationship is that the majority of our professors actually live in Northfield so they are very accessible.”
In addition the admissions counselor also discussed professor-student relations in terms of class size and the professor’s focus on the teaching process saying, “we also emphasize the small class size so that gives a lot of personal interaction. Our professors choose to come to a school like St. Olaf instead of a big university…because research is important to them but the teaching is number one.” Clearly, the prospective student looking at St. Olaf is presented with an image of professor-student relationships as personal and engaging.
St. Olaf’s website for prospective students provides concrete information regarding the officially promoted relationship. In general St. Olaf offers what most liberal arts colleges offer: a small student/faculty ratio and small class sizes (http://www.stolaf.edu/admissions/applying/profile.html). However, St. Olaf promotes itself as going beyond small class sizes to specifically address the intimacy of student-professor relations. The website states, “it is the ability of our faculty to engage students, to inspire them to do more, and to help them achieve more than they thought they could, that is the greatest academic opportunity St. Olaf offers its students. Small class sizes help students meet faculty, as do department events…and in turn… encourage them to take academic risks (http://www.stolaf.edu/admissions/applying/profile.html).” To amplify their point, the website uses the analogy that “asking a St. Olaf alum to list their single best professor is like asking a child which is their favorite Christmas present (http://www.stolaf.edu/admissions/applying/profile.html).” Quotes such as this clearly present student-professor relationships at St. Olaf in a positive light.
The prospective student is given a myriad of brochures espousing the strengths and characteristics of St. Olaf College. Among the information in these brochures is the promotion of close professor-student relationships. They promote this by including a picture of a student meeting with a faculty member in their office. In the brochure, “Where your journey begins” they boast of an “11:1 student-to-faculty- ratio, you’ll learn from faculty who are mentors as well as renowned professors in their fields.” In another brochure entitled, “2004-05 Facts and Figures” they claim, “it’s about faculty who meet you in their classrooms and offices, and in coffee shops and student lounges…It’s about conversations, in and out of the classroom, where discussions of faith, values, integrity, and public service are encouraged and even expected.” It is clear that St. Olaf wants to promote personal relationships between professors and students inside and outside of the classroom. This idea about context will be integral in students’ and professors’ own perceptions of the reality of the nature of the professor-student relationship at St. Olaf.
We asked students and professors what they understood to be the officially promoted relationship between professors and students. The overwhelming consensus was that St. Olaf promoted relationships based on professor accessibility to students, and one-on-one personal relationships. Additional identifiers might include friend, mentor, and colleague. In both focus groups the word accessibility was used to describe the relationship between professors and students. One junior female described the promoted relationship as “like a friend relationship.” She goes on to say, “if you listen to tours going around they’re always emphasizing the fact that our profs are always here, and they have really good office hours, and they’re very willing to help.” When asked what roles are promoted another student replied, “I feel like [it is] a mentor […] that role is promoted a lot. The profs really want to help you get on the right path and they want to show you you’ve got these options after school.” This demonstrates that most students have a relatively accurate understanding of the kind of relationship that St. Olaf officially promotes.
Students often emphasized the personal nature of the officially promoted relationship by providing examples including visits to professors’ houses. One student noted with a hint of sarcasm that when she “took a tour, [tour guides] were like, well a lot of professors invite students to their house after class for pie, or something.” Others were not as cynical and noted that “they also emphasize the intimate nature of the relationship—you’ll be invited to your professor’s house for dinner.” Although students seem to have an understanding of the intimate nature of relationships that is promoted, we have noted that the intimacy is highly correlated with the context in which interaction occurs. Students associate intimacy with out of classroom situations and interactions.
Professors had similar remarks regarding what they saw to be the officially promoted relationship between professors and students. They also used similar identifiers such as advisors, friends and mentors, but kept it in the realm of academics. Professors also noted the emphasis on small class size and its effect on professor-student relations. A language professor commented, “I would assume that they say first of all that the classes at St. Olaf are small so there is time for interaction between professors and students on a regular basis both inside class and outside of class…For sure I think that they want to promote that it is not graduate students who are teaching and that professors from their very first year have close contact and interaction with their students.” Again we see a dichotomy of categorizing interaction based on whether it occurs inside or outside of the classroom.
Professors and students alike seem to understand the officially promoted professor-student relationship. Many felt that this officially promoted relationship was similar to their actual experiences on campus. A sophomore student said, “For me I know my violin professor is, I mean it’s a pretty professional relationship, but he gives us gigs and so sometimes we don’t have time to eat so we eat at his house. I didn’t really believe that people actually did it. I thought that it was like an admissions ploy. Oooooooooo, our school is really great, but it has actually happened to me and it is a really friendly environment.” Similarly, when asked how the relationship was working another student remarked, “Pretty much the way they promote it; teachers are usually there during they’re office hours. I just say usually on the very rare occasion that they have a doctor’s appointment, but if they have their office hours listed you can usually find them in their office at that time and again afterwards. So this teacher-student relationship is what the school advertises. And again, [it’s] probably better than what you’d expect.” Many students approached this official relationship with a certain amount of incredulity. This may be because Americans have been sensitized to advertising ploys and they assume that the worth of the product marketed is exaggerated. Despite initial skepticism, these students felt they did experience this promoted relationship as a reality.
When asked about the reality of student-professor relationships, professors were usually fairly general and concise in their responses. One commented, “Generally, I think it’s good, I think it’s very good…I would say 90-95% of my relationships with students are really positive, really good.” Another professor when asked if this close relationship is a reality responded, “it’s my impression it is.” It appears that both professors and students think that their relationships as they experience them resemble the officially promoted relationship at St. Olaf.
For many others, the actual experience of professors and students may deviate from this idealized relationship. Many students indicated that they did have very large class sizes and that this affected relationships with professors. As one student said, “if you’re sitting at the back of your 120 person intro psych course, as I was last year, the only time I went to talk to [Professor], who is like one of the most intimidating and frightening professors I have ever had, was because she had failed me on something. It was really awkward and I think it’s hard to promote the kind of relationship that St. Olaf says you’re supposed to have with your profs when you’re in one of those large anonymous classes. I’m one of those people that seeks my professors out but it didn’t happen with her.” Many students expressed similar feelings regarding larger classes and their negative impact on student-professor relations.
Other students noted that some relationships required more effort to initiate. One student stated, “I think you really have to make a personal effort, none of my professors have sought me out. I’ve built these relationships because I’ve been the one that’s gone and talked to them on the first day and talked to them outside of class. It doesn’t just happen you really do have to work at it I think.” Another student expressed similar sentiments regarding professor effort saying, “I feel like some professors are better at doing their part to make a personal relationship. I mean I have professors that really make it important to learn everyone’s name even it if is a big class. That makes it so much easier than when . . . you go to class and they have their office hours, and it is totally on you. There are some profs that ask questions and really play a role in forming a relationship.” In comparison to the officially promoted relationship, many students felt that the burden of initiating contact lies more on the side of the student than the professor.
On the other end of the spectrum, some students felt that student-professor relationships were potentially too close. The following is a discussion among students in a focus group on situations where they felt unsure of the appropriateness of their relationship with professors:
Female 4: Yeah and my [instrument] teacher, I mean I saw him in his underwear, he saw me in my bra and underwear, on choir tour because I played in the chamber ensemble. We have a very interesting relationship and so I guess . . . I’ve had to, I don’t I saw [Professor Name] in his underwear, just some weird things that I’d rather not see but . . .
Male 1: Is that like good or bad . . .
Female 4: Oh bad!
Male 1: Well is it promoting the one on one experience or . . .
Female 5: It breaks down the barrier way too much
Female 4: Yeah I definitely think it did. I mean I know students, other [instrument] students that talked about sex with their [instrument] professor and . . .
Female 5: It’s so inappropriate.
Female 4: We’re such a tight knit group that it doesn’t really matter but I think it’s crossed the line.
While this view was not the most prominent view, it demonstrates that there are times when students feel that relationships extend beyond appropriate interaction.
Like some students, professors also indicated that the quality of the relationships was determined by the effort given by the student. A language professor said, “I think that students have as much contact with their professors as they desire to have. I sometimes think that students do not initiate that contact as much as they could. For example, during office hours, I rarely have someone come and I really think that people should come more often especially if they’re having trouble with something. They tend to go and ask for a tutor and sometimes they are hesitant to come and talk to their professor, and I think they should do that more often.” Another professor remained conscious of the degree of personal contact he had with students saying, “I maintain a little bit of professional distance, that’s just my style I try to be friendly but also I don’t try to be like a lover [laughs]. I don’t try to be you know a counselor. First of all I don’t think the lover side of it is appropriate, and personally for me I don’t think I want to pretend I am like a trained counselor.” It appears that while professors feel that their office hours are under utilized, they are very aware of the pitfalls of building too personal a relationship with their students.
In addition to asking questions about the real and promoted relationships at St. Olaf College, we explored a number of independent variables that may explain why some relationships work the way they do. These independent variables included age, gender, department, course format, and professor availability. Relatively few students said that gender or age was a factor in their comfort level with professors. If there were any concerns about gender or age, it was usually just about the initial contact with a professor. One male commented, “when I go in to talk to old teachers, if I don’t know them, it’s kind of like you are going to go see your grandparents. You go in and you’re not sure exactly how to treat them or how to start conversation or what you need to be talking to them about, whereas with younger professors it’s easier to just walk right in and be like this is what I need to talk to you about. With older professors once you get past the initial problem, its just the same.” In terms of gender, a female student remarked, “I do feel more comfortable talking to some than others, I would feel more comfortable approaching a female professor initially.” There were no strong responses regarding gender and age and those responses that we did get only suggested initial hesitation so it does not appear that these are significant factors in professor-students relationships.
When students were asked about comfort level with respect to professors in different departments, most students responded that they were more comfortable with professors in the major department or in departments similar to their major. One female student said, “Well I know I’m really intimidated to talk to professors in math and science departments because I’m just taking those classes for the GE’s. I don’t feel like I know anything about it so I’m always really afraid that I’m going to ask stupid questions. Whereas professors in my major departments I’m much more comfortable talking to. Even just in areas more like my major because I feel like I have a little more worthwhile things to say I guess.” This statement seems to represent the vast majority of student sentiment regarding interaction with professors in various departments.
While we initially thought that discussion-based courses would bolster student-relationships better than lecture-based courses, responses were mixed. A professor in the math department remarked, “I think that that allows me to interact with students more too on a individual basis, but it’s hard to do in stats. . . I try to do things where I have you guys stop and work with each other. One thing that I’ve learned in reading from cognitive psychology about teaching and learning and so forth is if students feel comfortable in the class. . . so you know you’re more comfortable with the atmosphere so you don’t feel intimidated about asking a question. I think that that’s an important basis and it’s known that that’s true for between students and I think that that’s also true between students and faculty.” A math student in a focus group also indicated that discussion provides better student-professor relationships saying, “I’ve found that in my math classes if we take breaks to work on a worksheet or something and the professor is walking around, you really end up talking to them a lot more. It’s just more casual.” It is clear that some students and professors see a direct connection between discussion courses and good relationships.
None of the participants interviewed stated that lecture was superior to discussion in terms of creating good student-professors relations, however, many indicated that both formats were equally effective. After a moment of deliberation a female biology student responded to a question on this subject by saying, “No. I would think that it would, but some of my professors who really want their class to be discussion oriented really are not someone that I would feel comfortable talking to in their office hours.” This student’s comment seems to indicate that relationships are more affected by professor personality than by class format.
In terms of professor availability there was an overwhelming response indicating that professors do make themselves available in several ways to students. Most cited office hours as well as quick response to e-mails, and ability to contact professors over the telephone both in their office and their home. Students and professors met primarily in the professor’s office and occasionally in The Cage or another public location on campus. Conversation often revolved around, but was not limited to, academics. As one student noted, “classes are an instant common ground” and was supported by “yeahs” from fellow focus group participants. Students noted that they often talk about nonacademic subjects as well. One student commented, “I find that most professors are usually curious about what you’re doing with your life and really want to know. . . what you are doing; what you are involved in.” It seemed like there was a consensus among students and professors that availability is key to strong relationships, and that it is a strength at St. Olaf.
Our descriptive data indicate that both professors and students described their professor-student relations as positive, personal, and valuable. However, underneath this apparent sense of friendliness and equality, it appears that behavior is guided by more than just personality and an idea of what the ideal professor-student relationship should be. A trend is emerging that suggests that professor-student relations are guided by traditional social norms embedded in the context of interaction. When speaking about professor-student interaction, many respondents qualified their statements based on context. Most people distinguished between in-class and out-of-class interaction. When discussing the roles of the professor and students, a participant noted, “I’d say out of the classroom more of a mentor. I mean a mentor you can talk about anything with. You can talk about class if you want or your personal life and/or talk about any sort of subject and they’re there to just help you through; you’re they’re mentee. In the classroom I think there’s more of a student teacher relationship where the teacher is supposed to be looked up to, [the] respected official and you’re supposed to be their little minion. So there is a definite, you know, he’s the teacher, you should listen to what he says; you’re the student you should absorb what he says, but outside the classroom I think it’s totally different.” Similarly, another student in a focus group discussed the best forms of student-professor interactions said, “I think it makes all the difference, if you acknowledge your professor outside of class.” Both of these comments illustrate how context, perhaps unconsciously, informs how students interact with professors.
While many participants mentioned personality of professor and student as a factor in determining how relationships function, a trend in responses indicate that personality is actually dominated by context. Within the classroom it seems that students see formality as the norm. We have discovered that even the most out-going personality conforms to the norm of formality while in the classroom. One of the ways that this becomes apparent is in how students address their professors. While students want to have friendly relationships with professors, most feel extremely uncomfortable calling professors by their first names when asked to do so. The following dialogue between interviewer and professor illustrates this discomfort:
Interviewer: In your e-mail you asked me to address you as [first name]. Do you ask all students to do that?
Prof: I do. Uh that’s just my preference.
Interviewer: Do you find that students have a hard time doing that?
Prof: yeah, yeah I’ll say that and they’ll say, ‘yes professor’ [laughs]
Students freely discussed this discomfort and attributed their discomfort to lack of formality and respect for superiors when addressing a professor by their first name. One student remarked, “I’ve never had a professor ask us to call them by their first name but I’ve been told that it’s okay. I never have because it’s, uh well, I think I’m a pretty formal person, despite how I come off so I definitely, for e-mail, it’s always professor and their last name.” For this student, it is clear that personality is quelled under the norm of formality in the classroom. Recognizing the superiority of professors is part of the rules of interaction in the classroom, the same student said, “I’d say [professors are] more superior, mostly because I respect the knowledge that they have in their heads and I know that they have a lot more experience not only with what we are learning. I think that’s one of the reasons why I call a professor or use their title instead of their first name. I still enjoy personal interaction with them, finding out things about their family and what not, I still think it’s a pretty formal relationship.” Again, we see the tension between the desire to have personal interaction with professors while in a context that promotes a formal relationship.
In some responses, respect for professors goes to the point of deification. One female student said, “I think that I approach my professors with a certain amount of reverence just recognizing all the work that they have done in their graduate studies. While some may present themselves as a peer to me, I don’t, I still approach them with a great deal of respect. I would never address a professor by their first name if they didn’t more or less demand me to.” Reverence gives way to even more blatant praise as another student declares, “like [professor] in the Russian department, he teaches Russian history and I have the utmost respect for him. I think he’s the smartest person on campus, he’s a walking encyclopedia and I address him as Professor [last name] just because he has this more sort of…he is a god!” Again, it seems that the rules of formality outweigh the desire that students have for informal friendly relationships.
In a final demonstration of context overpowering personality the following discussion with an outgoing student reveals the ways in which people are molded by societal norms. The student begins describing interactions with professors as follows, “if I bump into somebody just on the sidewalk or in the Cage getting coffee in the morning, I’ll just talk with them, ask them how they’re day is and umm maybe give them a hard time about a cheap question on a test [laughs]. I have a pretty friendly relationship with professors.” But even this seemingly friendly and open student is tempered by the norm of formality as he himself continues on to say, “in the classroom I’m usually a different person than I am outside of the classroom. While I’m taking a test, it’s a serious thing, it’s me and the teacher. But then outside it’s more of a friendship.” The drastic change in behavior inside and outside of the classroom indicates how social norms shape the individual.
These social norms in the classroom likely have their origin in student socialization and discipline in their development as a student. From Foucault’s perspective, discipline is the result of power/knowledge relations in society. Foucault would say that knowledge is what creates power and is the means by which people are ruled (Ritzer 2004: 588). Hierarchical observation, normalizing judgments and examination are three methods that Foucault sees as integral to institutions establishing discipline (Ritzer 2004: 591). According to Foucault, educational institutions are also structures of discipline. He rhetorically asks, “Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons? (Ritzer 2004: 592).” When looking at the ways in which knowledge is used to dominate others, Foucault saw institutionalization and rationalization as tools to accomplish this phenomenon. Foucault saw many means by which to become institutionalized which included “a mixture of legal, traditional, hierarchical structures such as the family, the military or the school (Marshall 1990: 24).” He also commented on rationalization saying that it provides a way to justify the use of knowledge as power (Marshall 1990: 24). Perhaps what is most striking is that this form of discipline is most oppressive since it is internalized and not coerced (Ritzer 2004: 589). If educational institutions discipline students through socialization and these values are internalized, then the power of the classroom will dictate how students interact rather than their individual personalities.
Many students’ responses support the idea that the family is a mode of institutionalization. When students associated formality and respect to addressing professors they often connected it to their upbringing. When discussing her childhood, one student said, “it’s like how when you’re a little kid if your parents made you call every adult Mr. or Mrs. even after they said no, no call me Erica, I never could do it.” Another student, when asked about reasons for discomfort in addressing professors by their first name said, “I’d say it’s because that’s the way it always was in high school. That would probably be a big reason, but I think even bigger was the fact that my parents made sure that anyone who was older than me that I call Mr. Mrs. Ms. Dr. whatever their title was that was how they were supposed to be addressed.” The formality that students associate with the classroom is often an unconscious result of their socialization.
Socialization also occurs in the classroom at a young age. One student discusses the need to adjust to an undergraduate setting saying, “Well there’s when you’re young I mean you sort of tabula rasa, everything is blank and you have to have some sense of respect for elders and respect for authority driven into your head. That’s why they have the Mr. and Mrs. so on and so forth in high school just because the student had to respect their teachers. So at that point a first name basis isn’t correct. When I was young I would call my friend’s parents by their last name. It’s just sort of the same thing driving respect into your head while you’re young. Once you’re finally in college you should be able to have the same respect for a teacher while you’re on a first name basis. You should be mature enough to know that even though that person could be your friend you still have to give them respect because they earned their Ph.D.” This demonstrates the tension between treating the professor as a superior and as a friend.
When students internalize the norms of society through socialization the discipline need not be coerced, in fact, the students themselves often enforce the rules of formality in the classroom. Focus group participants were discussing student respect of professors, which elicited the following response, “I think that people here really do respect the profs…I mean it’s just kind of the social norm to respect them back and it’s the peer pressure [that] can keep people in line.” She goes on to use an example saying, “I have some lecture classes…where a couple people in back will start talking, and they’re talking loud enough that people can’t quite hear the prof. They’re getting dirty looks.” Clearly students uphold those values of respect learned in both the family and in the classroom. So even though students may want to subscribe to the promoted relationship characterized by friendliness, the discipline they received in their socialization causes them to maintain traditional social formalities.
So as it stands, the separation of interaction based on context inside or outside of the classroom is analogous to Goffman’s theories on dramaturgy. According to Goffman, “actors take on established roles, they find particular fronts already established (Ritzer 2004: 359).” Personal front consists of creating a certain “appearance” and “manner.” So in the college setting, professors take on the expected role of the superior and the respected elder. The classroom is their stage. For example, a professor described his role when he said, “I’m giving a big lecture . . . and no surprise I will stand at the front. I will look like a professor: I’ll wear a tie.” “Another technique employed by performers is mystification. Actors often tend to mystify their performances by restricting the contact between themselves and the audience (Ritzer 2004: 360).” The sense of formality between professors and students in the classroom is analogous to the mystification felt by audiences when viewing an actor.
But what happens when the mystification is shattered and you see the professor off-stage (outside the classroom)? The barrier between actor and audience is therefore broken. In the same way when professors and students meet out of the classroom the formality of the relationship is broken and the relationships can begin to take on a more friendly nature. Students expressed surprise when seeing their professors outside of the classroom. One student said, “the first time a saw a professor at Target I was so weirded out! It’s like wow, you exist outside of St. Olaf.” Another student followed up saying, “I saw my advisor in Minneapolis. That was really weird, but at the same time very cool.” Most of the participants in the focus group responded with a mixture of surprise and laughter. One professor also noted that their formal role as teacher changed outside of the classroom saying, “when I’m ringing the bell and turning the lap counters at a track meet I interact with students that are runners as just a person.” We can see that the change in context offers more of a chance for closer interaction with professors. One student illustrates this saying, “I establish a relationship in the classroom and then forget about it when I go talk to a professor in his office. I just sort of have two different lives with the same person and I think that’s really the best way to approach any sort of relationship. For a professor in class there’s one person that you’re talking to and outside of class it’s a different one.” This dual relationship seems to be effective in establishing good professor-student relationships.
Professors also suggested that an important component to professor-student relationships included interaction outside of the classroom. One professor remarked, “I’m involved in many of those extra activities also, so I see my students very often outside of class. I really like that because I find that when you’re in class you only see one aspect of a student and it is so useful for the professor to see the student in their own environment and not in the professor’s environment.” Another professor described the importance of interaction outside of the classroom as a way of gaining a more holistic perspective. She said, “we have a lot of discussion about their extra activities or sports or music and I think that that is really good for professors to see students in a little larger perspective.” It seems that professors attribute the best professor-student relationships to contact outside of the classroom in addition to contact in the classroom.
Often when students did speak about closer relationships with professors, the interaction was primarily off-campus. One student said, “It’s not really emphasized the actual good friendship that you can build with a professor. I go down and visit my Russian teacher, not as often as I should. He always invites me down more often, we always go down there to watch movies and he’ll show me some cool stuff on the computer so it’s sort of the borderline of a mentee-professor friendship. I mean it’s sort of all of those bound into one.” For another student, sports were a way of making a connection. The student commented, “a couple have come down to watch dive meets and it’s kind of fun to see them there. They’ve got that school spirit support. I mean they come down because I invited them, but they wouldn’t be down there if they didn’t like the school or the sport. Unless they like to see me in a speedo which [laughs] is a different sort of student-professor relationship.” It seems that one mode to overcome traditional norms of formality is to interact with a professor outside the context of the classroom. This is because it is the classroom that is frequently associated with maintaining formal relationships.
The separation of the stage and the real world of the audience are analogous to the classroom and the real world of abroad trips. Both professors and students alike noted that abroad trips were very effective ways of establishing close professor-student relationships. One student described how his relationship with a professor developed into a friendship and he followed by saying, “Yeah travel abroad trips are a great way to become friends with your professor because you’re out of that class environment, you’re in the real world… that really is a way to bond just because you’ve got the classroom relationship and the real world relationship and there’s so much less of the classroom than there is of the real world when you’re on an abroad trip. I don’t think you can simulate that on campus because teachers are in their office [during] their office hours, [it’s] still kind of in an academic setting and you really have to put in the extra effort to befriend them outside of class. Whereas on a travel abroad trip, they’re there so you’ve got to find something you have in common.” Another student described her experience with professors abroad saying, “Well, I feel more comfortable talking to professors that I know more personally. Because I studied in India, I know the advisors a lot more and I’ve been over to their house more often and so I can just go into their office pretty much anytime that they are there and sit down. Even if it’s something that’s not about school I can just sit down and talk to them. So I don’t know, I have a more personal relationship with them so it is easier to talk to them.” Abroad trips are one means by which to foster closer student professor relationships by bringing them outside the context of the classroom.
Professors also indicate that contact with students outside of class, especially abroad, is a way of developing personal relationships. A mathematics professor noted, “I think a big contributing factor is how we travel together a lot and when students go on a trip with a professor they tend to get to know them much better.” This further emphasizes the ways in which context influences student-professor interaction.
Our findings on professor availability and the mode of conducting class were similar to results found by Wilson, Woods, and Gaff. Office hours are the primary means by which students and professors can meet and build relationships. This was also true in previous research. Both our research and the research by Wilson, Woods, and Gaff indicate that classroom format, lecture or discussion, does not have significant effects on the establishment of student-professor relationships.
In contrast, our findings on the effects of gender appear to differ from those of Sears and Hennessey. While they found that students felt more comfortable with female professors we did not find any evidence to suggest that this is true at St. Olaf. Both male and female said that gender was not a factor in the formation of relationships with professors. If there was any discomfort indicated, students emphasized that is was only an initial feeling when first approaching the professor and that it disappeared shortly afterward. We have no basis for comparison for our research into the effects of age and academic department because we did not find any previous research on the subject.
The idea that the establishment of professor-student relations is so intimately tied to our socialization and the context in which interaction occurs leads us to examine broader theoretical implication of these findings. The idea of the student accepting the promoted relationship defined by friendliness and close personal contact, but at the same time feeling uncomfortable establishing these relationships (as seen in students’ discomfort addressing professors by their first name) illustrates a larger trend in American society. This trend might be called the “yes, but” complex. It seems that Americans in general prefer less formality in interactions and in institutions. For example, the idea of “Casual Friday” is probably unique to American culture. At the same time, many people in American society do not actually subscribe to these informalities. Within our research, this can be seen in professors having to ask students repeatedly to call them by their first names. Despite Americans’ propensity toward informality, the norms established through socialization continue to guide how we actually act, which tends toward formality.
What we find most interesting is the idea that context overpowers personality. No matter how outgoing and personable a student or professor is, they are still guided by norms that create a hierarchy in the classroom. For students and professors alike the classroom is a place where the professor is superior and to be respected. For the friendly relationship to be a reality students and professors must make an effort to cultivate a relationship outside the classroom.
This research might be insightful to both professors and students in understanding the ways in which each approaches the professor-student relationship. Understanding that the roles and relationships between professors and students are likely to change with context may help facilitate future professor-student interactions. Perhaps this information will be most useful for the admissions office at St. Olaf. It is the admissions office that is responsible for attracting prospective students and it is important for them to know if the kind of relationship they are promoting is actually a reality. Furthermore, we are contributing to the general knowledge regarding interactions in hierarchical structures and the effects of socialization on interaction.
One subject of interest for further research might be the advisor-student relationship. We did ask professors and students about this relationship, but found that it was almost a completely different form of relationship with different roles that we were not prepared to address. Responses varied significantly amongst students and professors regarding the advisor-student relationship. Many professors talked about issues of qualification as well as time constraints in properly addressing students’ needs. Some students loved their advisors whereas others were visibly disappointed. Students related stories of going through several advisors before finding an adequate advisor to meet their needs. We decided not to address this issue in our paper because it appeared that the role of advisor was almost separate from the role of professor. Our interests were confined to professor-students relationships as it related to the interactions between instructor and learner.
As students ourselves, this research was particularly interesting because in a sense we were looking at issues that we ourselves face both inside and outside of the classroom. Professor-students relationships are an integral part of a student’s four years and an undergraduate institution. This research allows us to gain a better understanding of how context may dominate over personality when forming professor student relationships. At the same time it is encouraging to note that it is possible to have the desired friendly relationship, but that it may require effort outside of the classroom.
Al-Harthi, Hamood K.
2003 Student-Faculty Power/Knowledge Relations: The Implications of the
Internet in Mathematics Education and Social Studies. Dissertation Abstracts International, A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 2003, 64, 1, July, 104-A.
Bean, John P and Kuh, George D
1984 The Reciprocity between Student-Faculty Informal Contact and Academic Performance of University Undergraduate Students. Research in Higher Education 21 (4): 461-477.
Drabek, Thomas E.
1966 Student Preferences in Professor-Student Class-room Role Relations. Sociological Inquiry 36(1): 87-97.
Fassinger, Polly A.
1995 Understanding Classroom Interaction: Students’ and Professors’ Contributions to Students’ Silence. Journal of Higher Education 66(1): 82-96.
1991 Mentoring and Undergraduate Academic Success: A Literature Review. Review of Educational Research 61(4): 505-532.
reinterpretation of the emergence of physiology in post-Revolutionary France. In Foucault and Education. Stephen J. Ball, ed. Pp. 78-104. New York: Routledge.
Marshall, James D.
Ball, ed. Pp. 11-28. New York: Routledge.
Ritzer, George and Goodman, Douglas J. eds.
2004 Sociological Theory. Boston: McGraw-Hill.
Saint Olaf College
2003-2005 St. Olaf Admissions: Profile of Classes. Electronic document,
http://www.stolaf.edu/admissions/applying/profile.html, accessed May 1, 2005.
Saint Olaf College
Saint Olaf College
2004-2005 Where Your Journey Begins. Brochure, accessed May 10, 2005.
Schroeder, Debra S. and Mynatt, Clifford R.
1993 Female Graduate Students’ Perceptions of Their Interactions with Male and Female Major Professors. Journal of Higher Education, 64(5): 555-573.
Sears, Sharon R and Hennessey, Ann C.
1996 Students' Perceived Closeness to Professors: The Effects of School,
Professor Gender, and Student Gender. Sex Roles 35 (9-10): 651-658.
Wilson, Robert C., Woods, Lynn, and Gaff, Jerry G.
Classroom. Sociology of Education 47(1): 74-92.
Welcome and thanks for coming. I am Jen Sackrison and this is Kaitlin Gemar. As you know, we are doing a study of student professor relationships at St. Olaf. Before we go on with our discussion, I would like to call your attention to two things:
I will give you some time to read the form.
Are there any questions about the project information form? [Respond to questions]
If there are no questions, allow me to point out that if you feel you cannot give your consent you must leave. If you are under 18 years of age you are ineligible for this study and must leave. By staying, you are giving your consent. We are not having you sign a consent form because it is one more way to protect your confidentiality: lacking a signed consent form there is no evidence of your participation.
Thanks for considering being in our study.
We have invited you here because we are interested in learning more about the promotion of student professor relationships as well as the way they work on campus.
A few ground rules:
We will be asking open-ended questions. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Feel free to share your point of view even if it differs from what others have said. It will help us if you simply speak your mind.
There is a microphone here. We are taping the session because we don’t want to miss any of your comments. People often say very helpful things in these discussions and we can’t write fast enough to get them all down. We will be on a first name basis this morning, but we will not use names in our reports. When we transcribe these tapes, we will not record any names; when the transcriptions are complete the tapes will be destroyed. If and when we publish any of these data names and places will not be used.
Let’s begin by introducing ourselves. Please tell us your first name and the one super power you wish you had...
How is it promoted? (15 minutes)
Prompt: Mentor, researcher, friend, superior?
Prompt: How was it conveyed? Tours? Online? Other students or professors?
How is it working? (20 minutes)
Prompt: How do they want to be addressed, office hours, work and home phone, recommendations?
Prompt: Gender, age, dept. major?
Prompt: Perceive differences between first year and senior year?
Prompt: Discussion vs. lecture?
Why is it working that way? (15 minutes)
Prompt: Do these roles imply a hierarchy? Do students perceive their professors as being more superior, or more equal? Does this have any effect on how students approach professors?
Conclusion (10 minutes)
Is there anything you would like to mention that we failed to discuss today?
Thank you for participating in our focus group. Your responses have been very helpful.
How is it promoted?
Prompt: Is it a mentor relationship?
Prompt: Website? Tours?
How is it promoted?
Prompt: What about student/professor research? How is it funded?
How is it working?
Prompt: How are you addressed? Office hours, home phone?
Prompt: Lecture vs. discussion, spatial arrangements?
Why is it working that way?
Prompt: Do these roles imply a hierarchy?
Prompt: How do students adjust to these changes?
Prompt: Mentor, researcher, friend, superior?
Prompt: How was it conveyed? Tours? Online? Other students or professors?
How is it working?
Prompt: How do they want to be addressed, offices hours, work and home phone, recommendations?
Prompt: Gender, age, dept. major?
Prompt: Perceived differences between first year and senior year?
Prompt: What was your experience: when, how long, what department? What was the relationship between you and the professor? Was it different from other contact you have had with professors?
Why is it working that way?
Your name has been selected from a stratified random sample of professors from St. Olaf departments to participate in a student research project for Ethnographic Research Methods (So/An 373) regarding professor student relations. Specifically we will be looking at the officially promoted relationship and how and why this relationship works in the way that is does. We would like to conduct an oral interview with you. It would require a minimum of 45 minutes and you will be assured complete confidentiality. If you are willing to participate please let us know so that we can set up a time and place in which to conduct the interview. Thanks for your consideration.
Jen Sackrison and Kaitlin Gemar
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com
Student for Oral Interview__________:
You have been invited to participate in a student research project for Ethnographic Research Methods (So/An 373) regarding professor student relations. Specifically we will be looking at the officially promoted relationship and how and why this relationship works in the way that is does. We would like to conduct an oral interview with you. It would require a minimum of 45 minutes and you will be assured complete confidentiality. If you are willing to participate please let us know so that we can set up a time and place in which to conduct the interview. Thanks for your consideration.
Jen Sackrison and Kaitlin Gemar
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com
We are students conducting a research project for Ethnographic Research Methods (So/An 373) regarding professor student relations. Specifically we will be looking at the officially promoted relationship and how and why this relationship works in the way that is does. As a member of the administration, we feel that you could provide us with information regarding the promotion and the official policies regarding student professor relations. We would like to conduct an oral interview with you. It would require a minimum of 45 minutes and you will be assured complete confidentiality. If you are willing to participate please let us know so that we can set up a time and place in which to conduct the interview. Thanks for your consideration.
Jen Sackrison and Kaitlin Gemar
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com
Student for Focus Group__________:
You have been invited to participate in a student research project for Ethnographic Research Methods (So/An 373) regarding professor student relations. Specifically we will be looking at the officially promoted relationship and how and why this relationship works in the way that is does. We were wondering if you would be willing to participate in a focus group. It would require about an hour of your time and you will be assured complete confidentiality. If you are willing to participate please let us know so that we can assign you to a group that meets at a time convenient for you. Thanks for your consideration.
Jen Sackrison and Kaitlin Gemar
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com
PROJECT INFORMATION FORM
You are invited to participate in a research study using focus groups/oral interview to explore student professor relationships at St. Olaf. You were selected as a possible participant because you are a student/professor/administration member at St. Olaf College and 18 years old or older. If you are younger than 18, you are ineligible for this study. We ask that you read this form and ask any questions you may have before deciding about being in this study.
This research is being conducted by Kaitlin Gemar and Jen Sackrison for Sociology/Anthropology 373.
If you agree to participate, you will be asked to do the following:
Risks and Benefits of Being in the Study
There is little risk involved in participating in this focus group/interview. If you agree to participate, you can choose not to answer any questions you do not want to answer.
There are no direct benefits to you for participating in the study. Focus group participants will be provided refreshments.
Any information obtained in connection with this study will remain strictly confidential; we ask each participant to keep confidential all information shared in the focus group/interview. You will not be identified in any reports produced from this study. In any sort of report we might publish, we will not include any information that will make it possible to identify individual participants. Research records will be kept in locked files and only the researchers will have access to the records. The audio-tape will be destroyed after data transcription is completed.
Voluntary Nature of the Study:
Your participation in the study is completely voluntary and you are free to withdraw at any time. By participating in the group/interview you are giving your consent to be in the study. Your decision whether to participate will in no way affect your current or future relations with St. Olaf College or any of its departments.
Contacts and Questions:
The researchers conducting this study are Kaitlin Gemar and Jen Sackrison. You may ask any questions you have now. If you think of other questions later on, please contact Jen Sackrison at X2062 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions about your rights as a research subject, you may contact the St. Olaf College Institutional Review Board. The address is St. Olaf College, Administration 127, 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, MN 55057. The telephone number is 507-646-3910
You may keep a copy of this consent form to keep for your records.
I __________________ have read the project information form for Promotion and Reality of Student Professor Relations at St. Olaf and agree to participate in an/a interview/focus group. I understand that all interaction will be kept confidential and that I can refuse to answer a question at any time. By signing this form I am agreeing to all conditions set forth in the project information form.
Subject Signature ____________________
Research Signature ____________________