Top 10 Characteristics of a Good Doctoral Instructor

By Dr. Daphne DePorres, Lead Instructor in the Doctor of Management program

Dr. Daphne DePorres is the Lead Instructor in the Doctor of Management program. Dr. DePorres has come up with a few key characteristics she feels make a top-notch instructor to help you recognize and determine what makes an exceptional academic leader.

CTU Doctoral Symposium ClassroomCTU Doctoral faculty are formally credentialed in their areas of instruction and complete a teaching certification in the learning-management system. However, there are key characteristics that go beyond academic expertise and reveal leaders of learning.

Doctoral instructors serve as executive coaches in the classroom. In a scholar-practitioner approach, the emphasis is on the application of academic theory to leverage career advancement. Extraordinary instructors are both academically credible and workplace relevant.

So how do you know if a Doctoral instructor is extraordinary? By these top 10 characteristics:

1. Support Student Success

Excellent Doctoral instructors cultivate a welcoming environment that focuses on the student’s aspiration to be his/her best. By engaging the student in an approachable and professional manner, instructors provide course leadership that strives to develop each student into scholar-practitioner peers. Instructors proactively reach out individually to students to foster personalized attention in the classroom. This educational environment thrives on clearly communicated expectations for the faculty and student.

2. Demonstrate Energy for Innovation

Outstanding instructors encourage student innovation in their areas of research by thinking outside the box about how to continuously improve the learning experience. They fully utilize the learning-management system to accelerate knowledge transfer, and they are on the cutting edge of advanced communication technologies (video conferencing, web chat and archived recorded lectures) in the classroom. These bold thought leaders are mindful that the “next big thing” might be a result of student innovation in their Doctoral classrooms.

3. Foster a Flexible Learning Culture

Doctoral students are seasoned professionals who have industry experience in a wide variety of areas. It is valuable for instructors to meet students where they are in topic areas; these experts have the insight to recognize content shifts. Flexibility in the content discussed provides the elastic structure to enable an individualized learning progression, optimizing the student’s interests and experiences. CTU Doctoral instructors aim to foster a learning environment geared towards balance among work, life and family obligations. Students can quickly become overwhelmed, juggling multiple demanding obligations; extraordinary instructors make themselves available to students beyond traditional working hours to promote the flexible learning culture.

4. Feed Forward

Remarkable Doctoral instructors are co-constructionists of student progress, offering feedback in a constructive and positive manner that accelerates the student’s baseline knowledge and appetite for learning.

5. Have Professional Work Experience

CTU Doctoral instructors lead by professional example in their disciplines and industries. These career ambassadors can encourage workplace preparedness by applying their industry knowledge and cultivating contextual relevance in the classroom. As professionals, they may share how students can advance their professional status by joining prestigious professional organizations and associations.

6. Demonstrate Knowledge of Theory

Instructors expand knowledge by utilizing the depth and breadth of the scholarship in the field as they teach and mentor students. They know the preeminent pieces of scholarship and authors within their areas of research and expertise. As masters of the literature, they identify potential research opportunities and effectively craft relevant research designs, which can contribute to the body of knowledge and help students do the same.

7. Feel Passionate

People who are passionate about their work don’t think of it as exertion at all. The CTU Doctoral instructors spread their excitement through dialogue and information exchange. These instructors translate passion, charisma and excitement into student success.

8. Maintain a Positive Attitude

CTU Doctoral instructors support a culture of positivity and achievement, in part by setting a high bar for themselves, which should inspire students and colleagues alike to do and be their best. Positive attitudes are contagious. The instructors tend to spread hope, joy and optimism throughout the student community.

9. Have Strong Educational Backgrounds

Our instructors have terminal degrees in their areas of teaching expertise. Some even have multiple Doctoral degrees. Some faculty members have graduated from the finest universities and programs such as Harvard, the Air Force Academy, Pepperdine, Cornell, Benedictine, University of California Berkeley, University of Southern California, and Columbia University.  They usually come to CTU as 10 – 30 year experienced senior leaders, professionally certified when appropriate, and are contributing researchers publishing annually within respected academic journals.  CTU Doctoral faculty have presented work in the American Society of Quality, Academy of Management, Encyclopedia of Global Supply Chain Management, International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management, and countless others.

10. Are Responsive

CTU instructors are faculty without borders, utilizing the latest learning-management technology to help them stay connected to students wherever they work and live, whatever the time zone. With high connectivity, students can be better positioned to cross the finish line on time. These extraordinary instructors are tethered to the CTU students on a daily basis to ensure open and eager responsiveness.

CTU Faculty - Dr. Daphne DePorresDr. Daphne DePorres is a Lead Instructor in the Doctor of Management program at Colorado Technical University (CTU). She’s been with CTU for four years and enjoys working with dissertation students and their mentors to generate and publish valuable contributions to the body of knowledge through research. She has served in a number of organizations where she had the opportunity to leverage her organization-development and quality-assurance backgrounds. Her experience includes management positions in a Fortune 500 company; directing and teaching in a prominent Organization Development master’s program in Mexico; a vice presidency in Research, Evaluation & Organizational Effectiveness with a large non-profit in Los Angeles; and other adventures along the way. Dr. DePorres earned an Ed.D. in Organization Change and a Master of Science in Organization Development from Pepperdine University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from Chicago State University.

Image Credit: Bells Design/Ryan McGuire