Political Professors and the Perception of Bias in the College Classroom
By Scott Liebertz, University of South Alabama and Jason Giersch, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
This article addresses three related questions. Does voicing a political ideology in class make a professor less appealing to students? Does voicing an ideology in class make a professor less appealing to students with opposing views? Does the intensity of professors’ ideology affect their appeal? We conducted survey experiments in two public national universities to provide evidence of the extent to which students may tolerate or even prefer that professors share their political views and under which conditions these preferences may vary. Results from the experiments indicate that expressing a political opinion did not make a professor less appealing to students—and, in fact, made the professor more appealing to some students—but the perception that a professor’s ideology is particularly intense makes the class much less favorable for students with opposing views. Students are indifferent between moderately political and nonpolitical professors.