The article under analysis deals with the effects the educator’s presentation style and charisma can have on the learning process. The study described in the article is based on the assumption that learners can be seduced quite easily by the personality of the educator and appreciate the learning experience even if it is characterized by irrelevant content. This assumption is well-supported by studies that involve middle- and high-school students. Naftulin et al. examine the way experienced educators evaluated a lecture that was interesting in terms of presentation and rather irrelevant when it came to its content (630). The experiment described in the article revealed some peculiarities of learners’ perception and learning motivation.
The experiment involved the participation of three groups of educators in such areas as psychiatry, psychology, and social work. The third group consisted of the educators who had a bachelor’s degree and other credentials. The overall number of participants was 55. The educators who took part in the experiment had a lecture. The lecturer was an actor who was presented as a knowledgeable professional with substantial credentials. The lecturer presented the material with the use of humor and various real-life stories, but the factual information on the matter (game theory in mathematics) was limited and often meaningless with conflicting statements and ideas. The lecture ended in a short discussion that was similar in nature. The participants completed questionnaires evaluating the lecture. It was found that the overall attitude of the vast majority of participants (from 70% to 90% depending on the group) was favorable although some people provided quite negative commentaries.
On the basis of this information, the researchers come to the conclusion that learners can be seduced by the educator’s charisma and presentation style irrespective of the level of their background knowledge on the matter. Naftulin et al. express their surprise at the easiness the participants were deceived as no one guessed that it was not a real lecture (634). Importantly, the researchers conclude that the results of the experiment show that there should be a balance between content and presentation. Another observation was associated with learners’ motivation. Some participants wanted to study the article used as the basis of the lecture even after learning about the purpose of the research. The authors conclude that
Naftulin et al. emphasize that the nature of the lecture could affect the results as the lecturer contemplated quite a general topic (634). The findings could be different if the topic of the lecture was more specific. The authors also add that the sample size is not large, which makes the data ungeneralizable. Nevertheless, the researchers stress that the obtained information is valuable as it provides insights into the correlation between the learning process and learning content and presentation. The authors even claim that actors can be invited to serve as charismatic educators in order to increase learners’ motivation and facilitate the learning process.
Naftulin, Donald H., et al. “The Doctor Fox Lecture: A Paradigm of Educational Seduction.” Journal of Medical Education, vol. 48, 1973, pp. 630-635.