The Personality of the Teacher

April 17, 20212 min read

It is commonly thought that the personality of a teacher has a great impact on his or her ability to teach, for good reason. Personality inevitably affects everyday interactions between teacher and student. Just as with every other job or action, certain personality traits would work better for a teacher than others.

One attempt to quantify personality is the Big Five personality domains for teachers: openness to experiences, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability. Openness deals with an appreciation for new things: novel ideas, untried experiences, curiosity. Conscientiousness measures self-discipline and control of impulses. Extraversion is what you might expect: the inclination to interact with the external, social world. Agreeableness measures how concerned one is with the opinions of others. Emotional stability is how well one reacts to stress and other negative emotions.

A 2019 study published in Educational Psychology Review analyzed the correlation between these domains and two educational outcomes, one of them being teacher effectiveness (Kim). It found that every domain except agreeableness is positively associated with teacher effectiveness. Teachers that were more open to new experiences, more conscientious, more extroverted, and more emotionally stable tended to be better teachers.

This tendency also might extend to learning assistants such as chatbots. A 2018 study found that the personality of a chatbot has a "significant positive effect on the user experience of chatbot interfaces" (Smestad). However, this use of personality measures the level of personality (as in, does the bot have personality) instead of the type of personality. Regardless, this could still line up with the previously mentioned findings in human teachers since it is usually considered that extroverted, curious people can appear more "personable". A 2018 article differentiates user preference based on the purpose of the chat bot. It found that people prefer "slow types" of personality, submission and compliance, for bots based around counseling like most education related bots would be (Kang). This especially ties into the positive relationship between agreeableness and teaching effectiveness.