“Good Fences Make Good Classes”: Greek Tertiary Students’ Preferences for Instructor Teaching Style

The learning preferences of students attending a two-semester undergraduate economics course at a Greek university were investigated. The course was taught by two instructors who initially used a relaxed student-centred teaching style. Near the end of the first semester, students were asked to assess their instructors’ performance. Responses were reported to the instructors, and near the end of the second semester, the survey was re-administered to the students. In the first survey administration, most students evaluated their instructors positively in regard to preparation, enthusiasm, and organization; however, most also rated the instructors negatively in regard to their ability to maintain control and discipline in the classroom, and the degree of respect the students had for them. Students’ comments suggested disapproval of the teachers’ relaxed teaching style. Based on these results, the instructors decided to adapt their teaching styles during the second semester to take into account the students’ criticisms. In the second evaluation, students rated the instructors mostly positively in regard to strictness, discipline and respect. These results suggest that Greek students expect their instructors to maintain a considerable degree of psychological distance, and that when they do not, the students perceive the instructors as lacking in control in the classroom. Thus, national culture plays an important role in shaping learning preferences, and unintended results can occur when instructors employ a teaching style, which violates the cultural expectations of students. It is suggested that in Greek higher education a slow adaptation to a more student-centred teaching method be promulgated.