The answer appears to be: not much. That’s based on research by a trio of European scholars who examined the results at a university in the Netherlands. They wanted to know if students do significantly better when taught by professors versus being taught by grad students or even top undergrads. Their findings were that the latter are nearly as effective as the veteran educators.
This interesting piece of research caught the eye of the Martin Center’s Shannon Watkins and in today’s article, she writes about her interview with the lead researcher, Jan Feld.
Feld summarized the findings this way: “So, we think that our results most speak to those institutions where professors and students teach alongside each other. But it is an empirical question whether in other universities they would find similar effects on student instructors. I hope other studies will follow up on this. I suspect that for these institutions, where professors and students teach alongside each other, using professors is probably not the best use of their time. If student instructors do actually teach well, you would be hard-pressed to find a reason for using a professor — they’re doing the same job.”