Study: Quality Professors Increase Students’ Economic Benefits

Arkansas Traveler: University of Arkansas

May 5, 2014

A Harvard study that tracked more than 2 million students over two decades found that having an average or good quality educator can have long-term economic benefits.

Harvard scientists tracked students from elementary school through higher education, along with the educators who taught the students. The students in the study are now in their 20s, and researchers are now able to make connections between the quality of educators and the quality of education, according to PBS.

"The way we measure teacher quality is (by looking) at the average impacts that teachers had on students' test scores," said Raj Chetty, a Harvard professor. "So, for example, a teacher who systematically raised her students' test scores year after year—we would call that teacher a high-value-added teacher."

The study found that students with a high-value-added educator are more likely to pursue higher education and earn higher wages.

"An excellent teacher, we calculate, generates about $250,000 or more of additional earnings for their students over their lives in a single classroom of about 28 students," Chetty said.

While sites such as RateMyProfessor warn against taking some professors at the University of Arkansas (UofA), students said they think the quality of educators at the UofA is high. However, this is not always the case. One example of a professor students thought was of poor quality was Aulton Mitchell, a business professor in the Walton College of Business who resigned from his position.

Students complained about Mitchell on RateMyProfessor.com. His overall rating was a 2 out of 5, with 5 being the best. He received a 1.9 in clarity, a 2.1 in helpfulness and a 2.4 in easiness.

Since November 2012, out of 30 scores, Mitchell received six good-quality scores, two average-quality scores and 21 poor-quality scores on RateMyProfessor.com.

While students did not have positive feedback for the former instructor, other Walton students said they think the college has a lot of high-quality educators.

"I have had great professors here at the UofA and especially in the Walton College of Business," junior Michelle Hansen said. "I totally agree that they make all the difference. I know that I have received a quality education and return on the investment that I am placing in the school. I'd like to thank all my professors and instructors and the UofA for being a high-quality place to learn."

Other students agree.

"Matt Waller is my favorite professor because he is very entertaining in class, and he is really passionate about supply chain management, which makes me passionate too-and supply chain management is not always something easy to be passionate about," junior Jackie McQueen said. "When someone can show you how to succeed and even enjoy your education, that is really cool."

While students may not always like their professors, students can still make the most of their education.

"Any school you attend that is as large as the UofA will have professors and instructors that you may not enjoy or be as good as you hope, but there are also a lot of the best educators I have had in all of my education too," Hansen said.

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