Irvine Valley’s Psi Beta Chapter1 has named Professor Beatrice Tseng as the recipient of its third annual “Most Inspiring Professor” award!2 Professor Tseng, who teaches Spanish in the Foreign Language Department in the School of Humanities at Irvine Valley College, earned her degrees at UCLA. Psi Beta research students have been studying the behaviors of effective instructors over the past several years. In the past two years, students who had completed at least 30 units at the college named up to three professors in any discipline on the IVC campus that they believe are “hope inspiring.” Each time, professor Tseng’s name was among the most frequently named professors. “Hope-inspiring” professors, such as professor Tseng, go far beyond teaching course content. These instructors inspire students to become more proficient, confident, and goal-oriented learners. Moreover, students feel these instructors relate well with students, but also set clear standards for their classes, effectively communicate the course material, motivate students to perform well, and are passionate and knowledgeable about the subjects they teach. Lastly, although these instructors are popular and respected among students, they also set high standards.
Most of us can think of one or two teachers who left a profound personal impact on our quest to reach our educational goals -- in the opinion of Irvine Valley’s students, Beatrice Tseng is such a professor. Mentoring professors raise a student’s hope for academic success. C.R. Snyder’s (1995) model defines academic hope in terms of three factors: 1) the student’s academic goals (and the clarity of those goals), 2) the ability of students to find alternate pathways to reach one’s goals, and 3) agency – the motivation to pursue one’s goals. Extensive research has found that students having hope for academic success perform better in their classes and reach their academic goals at a higher rate.
The Psychology Department and its Psi Beta students are continuing their study of professors who excel at inspiring and mentoring students. Do students of these professors achieve greater than expected learning gains? Our most recent study found that inspiring professors are more likely to include explicit expectations for student learning on their course syllabi. They also are more likely to derive part of the course grade through authentic assessment strategies (i.e., assessing the student’s ability to demonstrate important course outcomes; relying not solely on traditional paper and pencil testing). In addition, their students believe that these professors inspire much greater learning compared to typical professors! However, we have more questions. For example, how did these professors become so effective in inspiring their students? Are they modeling after extraordinary teachers in their own past, or just simply blessed with a natural gift? Can these mentoring teachers help the rest of us become more effective at inspiring our students? The research continues! Congratulations to Professor Tseng!
1 Psi Beta is the national honor society in psychology. Irvine Valley’s chapter has been active since its founding in 1992. Dr. Kari Tucker serves as the chapter’s primary advisor, while the following instructors assist her as co-advisors: Michael Cassens, Jerry Rudmann, Yemmy Taylor, and Bari Rudmann.
2 Former recipients of the Most Inspiring /Mentoring Professor award are Professor Frank Marmolejo and Professor William Etter.