Always fun when other scientists have similar results: on authenticity and teachers

On June 9th I’ll be having my viva, my PhD defense on my research on perceived authenticity in the classroom. Some of the work in my doctoral thesis has been published already – or is soon to be published. Yesterday Paul Kirschner send me this new study on the same subject. And hoorah! Our findings are not so dissimilar. While we discussed Topical knowledge, passion, unicity and distance, the results by Johnson and LaBelle indicate that authentic teaching is perceived when teachers are viewed as approachable, passionate, attentive, capable, and knowledgeable. Even an important detail in my work – the importance of showing an interest in your pupils during informal moments – is also described by Johnson and LaBelle. Is it 100% similar? No, of course not, that would have been weird and I do think there can be regional differences. Also I do think we could have an interesting debate on the difference between the authenticity of a person and the authenticity of the role of the profession. Still, very pleased to read this new study in time for my viva!

Abstract of the study:

This study sought to generate a more robust understanding of teacher (in)authenticity. In other contexts, authenticity is regarded as a display of true self and has been positively linked to beneficial psychological (e.g., increased self-esteem) and social outcomes (e.g., higher relational satisfaction). However, what it means to be authentic in relational contexts may be very different from what it means to be authentic in teaching. Indeed, the concept of authentic teaching has been discussed by many, but has yet to be examined from a social science perspective. Using a grounded theory approach, this study sought to determine student perceptions of both authentic and inauthentic teacher behavior and communication. Open-ended data from 297 college students indicate that there are distinct behaviors employed by (in)authentic teachers. Results indicated that authentic teaching is perceived when teachers are viewed as approachable, passionate, attentive, capable, and knowledgeable. Alternatively inauthentic teaching is observed when teachers are perceived as unapproachable, lacking passion, inattentive, incapable, and disrespectful. Notably, these behaviors are often demonstrated through distinct actions taken by teachers that are often examined within the larger instructional communication literature (e.g., self-disclosure). Practically, these results allude to the notion that (in)authentic teaching can have a meaningful impact on students.

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