How College Teaching Alters the Public Beliefs of Professors
The survey did not directly measure the impact that college professors have on the views of their students. However, it did measure the impact that teaching at the college level exerts on a professor’s opinions, revealing that being a college teacher shifts a person’s views on whether America is a corruptive force, the relevance of the Ten Commandments, the impact of the minimum wage, and certain questions involving education itself.
Of the 2,508 respondents to the ISI survey, 240 said they had formally taught a college course. Like all respondents, these college professors were asked whether they strongly agreed, somewhat agreed, were neutral, somewhat disagreed, or strongly disagreed with the thirty-nine survey propositions.
Multivariate regression analyses determined that teaching in college exerts an independent, statistically significant influence on a person’s views on six propositions. If two people otherwise share the same basic characteristics, including formal education and civic knowledge, the one who has taught in college is more likely than the one who has not to agree that:
- America corrupts otherwise good people;
- The Ten Commandments are irrelevant today;
- Raising the minimum wage decreases employment;
- Educators should instill more doubt in students and reject certainty; and
- Homeschooling families neglect their community obligations.
Conversely, a college teacher is more likely to disagree that:
- Legislators should subsidize a college in proportion to its students learning about America.
|Teaching in College Influences Opinions on Six Propositions|
|Below are six propositions ranked by the strength of influence that teaching in college exerts on a person’s opinion, and whether it moved a person toward agreeing or disagreeing with the proposition.|
|Proposition Being a college teacher makes you more likely to|
|America corrupts otherwise good people.||Agree|
|The Ten Commandments are irrelevant today.||Agree|
|Raising the minimum wage decreases employment.||Agree|
|Educators should instill more doubt in students and reject certainty.||Agree|
|Homeschooling families neglect their community obligations.||Agree|
|Legislators should subsidize a college in proportion to its students learning about America.||Disagree|
When the thirteen propositions, on which college professors and non-college professors disagree significantly, are ranked by the magnitude of that disagreement (see table below), this last proposition comes in first. The average American who is not a college professor is neutral toward the proposition that legislators should subsidize a college in proportion to its students learning about America. The average college professor is more likely to disagree with this proposition, with the raw score in the “somewhat disagree” category.
The chart below displays other evident patterns. College professors agree on the essential goodness of America (No. 7) and the viability of the American work ethic (No. 13), but they do so with less confidence than the average American. College professors are likely to believe that the Bible is the Word of God (No. 2), but not as likely as non-college professors. Finally, when it comes to many of the most polarizing propositions in the ISI survey, college professors are less likely than non-college professors to support school prayer (No. 5) and immigration restrictions (No. 3), and more likely than non-college professors to support co-ed dorm rooms (No. 6), abortion-on-demand (No. 9), and government efforts to curb global warming (No. 12).
|Do You Agree with the Average College Professor?|
|Of the 2,508 respondents to the ISI survey, 240 said they had formally taught a college course. Like all respondents, these college teachers were asked whether they strongly agreed (5), somewhat agreed (4), were neutral (3), somewhat disagreed (2), or strongly disagreed (1) with each of the thirty-nine propositions. This table ranks the propositions by the degree to which the response of the average college professor differed significantly from that of the remaining Americans (difference of means test).|
|Rank and Proposition Professors are more likely to|
|1||Legislators should subsidize a college in proportion to its students learning about America.||Disagree|
|2||The Bible is the Word of God.||Disagree|
|3||Immigration into America should be reduced no matter how well immigrants assimilate.||Disagree|
|4||The American Founders opposed universal health care.||Disagree|
|5||Public school teachers should be allowed to lead prayers in school.||Disagree|
|6||Universities should allow students to live in a dorm room with the opposite sex.||Agree|
|7||America is a model of freedom and justice in the world.||Disagree|
|8||Legislators should suspend all tax dollars for a college after its endowment exceeds one billion dollars.||Disagree|
|9||Abortion should be available at any stage and for any reason.||Agree|
|10||Religion and science typically conflict.||Disagree|
|11||Educators should instill more doubt in students and reject certainty.||Agree|
|12||Government must act to curb global warming.||Agree|
|13||With hard work and perseverance anyone can succeed in America.||Disagree|