Teaching in higher education : students’ perceptions of effective teaching and good teachers

Wing-man CHAN*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This study explores Chinese students’ perceptions of effective teaching and good teachers. The qualitative data were collected via semi-structured interviews with 72 associate degree students in Hong Kong. Adopting a thematic analysis, three main themes are found: teaching approaches and content, teacher-student relationship, and teacher’s personal characteristics and roles. The results show that the students perceive effective teaching as teaching in an interesting, clear, and adaptive way. In addition to teaching expertise, the learners also value teachers’ appreciation, care, and friendly relations with students. Enthusiasm and a sense of humor are perceived as significant personal traits of good teachers. Contrary to the traditional Chinese educational philosophy and Confucian-Heritage cultural values, the students place little importance on teachers as a role model. The findings also suggest that students’ perceptions of learning and learning styles may shape their conceptions of excellent teaching and exemplary teachers. This research not only sheds valuable new light on interrelationship between teacher’s personal characteristics, teaching methods, and teacher-student relationship, but also yields practical implications for school administrators, teachers, and teacher trainers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-58
Number of pages19
JournalSocial Sciences and Education Research Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • good teaching
  • good teachers
  • students' perceptions
  • higher education


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