In this lovely qualitative study, entering first-year medical students listened to 2-minute podcast clips of lectures previously given by well-rated (>4 on a 5-point Likert global scale) or poorly-rated (<3 on the same scale) faculty members. During the podcast clip, a photograph of an attractive or unattractive gender-matched person was projected onto a large screen. Students were then given 30 seconds to give a global rating on the same Likert scale and describe their impressions of the teacher. The descriptions were analyzed and broke down into two independent components: knowledge/intellect and “charisma”. “Charisma” included sub-components caring, engaging, entertaining, confident, and organized.
Interestingly, student global ratings based on the 2-minute podcast clip were very highly correlated (r=0.78) to prior students’ end-of-course ratings. Knowledge/intellect scores did not influence the global rating (p=0.5), but both charisma and having an attractive picture projected had a high positive association (p<0.001). Average ratings over 4 were reserved for high-charisma presentations, while average ratings less than 3.5 were associated with low-charisma presentations with an unattractive picture on display. In addition to being humorous, this study brings into question our use of learner global evaluations for high-stakes decisions regarding faculty. — Laura Willett, MD