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Hotness a factor in faculty ratings

Associate Professor of Marketing Jeanny Liu answers questions following her lecture on “Student Perception of Professors’ ‘Hotness’ to Expertise, Motivations, Learning Outcomes, and Course Satisfactions“ on Monday in the President’s Dining Room. / photo by Katherine Careaga

Robert Penalber
Staff Writer

The faculty lecture series on Monday featured Associate Professor of Marketing Jeanny Liu discussing student perception of professors’ “hotness“ in determining expertise, motivations, learning outcomes, and course satisfaction.

“Students are catalysts between subjective opinions and objective learning,“ Liu said.

Liu began her lecture by defining a student’s perception of “hotness“ as a personal outlook on a professor’s physical appearance.

Student evaluations, which are used to assess teacher effectiveness and allow students to provide feedback, triggered the topic for the lecture.

According to Liu, Evalua­tions are no longer limited to a in-house University process, and have instead become a word-of-mouth, computer-mediated option.

Liu mentioned, which allows students to browse through unconventional rating scales when shopping for prospective professors.

“Hotness” is one of the criteria found when rating professors.

In an informal survey Liu conducted and shared at the lecture, 40 students were told to write down what they associated with the word “hotness.”

All of the students surveyed associated the word with appearance.

“I thought ‘hotness’ always meant how timely us professors were, how up-to-date our lectures and teaching methods were,“ said Ahmed Ispahani, professor of business administration and economics.

Liu’s survey did not include what “hotness“ meant to faculty members.

Physical attractiveness triggers positive opinions, and there is a definite correlation to professors receiving positive institutional ratings by students, Liu said.

Liu hypothesized that the correlation may be a result of students being more interested to learn with an attractive professor, and viewing their “hotness“ as a sign of more expertise.

“Rate My Professor doesn’t define hotness though, so when a student doesn’t find their professor physically attractive and rates them low, their entire rating drops,“ said sophomore biology major Nathanael Morales.

“I don’t even use ‘hotness’ when I’m choosing a professor. If a professor’s attractive, it’s a bonus, but it’s not a deciding factor for me,“ said sophomore psychology major Elizabeth Janetzke.

Still, Liu pointed out that physical attractiveness is associated with a wide range of positive outcomes, often subconsciously.

Some of the positive outcomes Liu found through historical studies include receiving more lenient punishments, earning higher wages in the labor market, and being more likely to receive help from a stranger.

“I thought the ‘hotness’ rating on Rate My Professor was a joke,“ said Persephonie Romero, sophomore biology major. “I never took it seriously. I’m more motivated to learn and go to class with a good professor.“

Liu led discussion following her lecture, and asked students and faculty what hotness meant to them.

She concluded with announcing she will be doing further research on the topic.

Liu said that her objective was to find a way for professors to build relationships with their students to receive positive feedback in student evaluations.

“There is a wide range of factors that demonstrate important implications for student learning, and hotness is becoming one,“ Liu said. “This is a good preliminary basis for further research,“

Robert Penalber can be reached at

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