“I teach, therefore I am?”

Exploring the Teaching Personas of College Professors

  • Kristel M Gallagher Thiel College
Keywords: personality traits; persona; college professor; emotional labor; teacher burnout


This exploratory study sought to identify the existence of a “teaching persona” in college professors. Specifically, an examination of self-reported differences in traits displayed as teachers versus in everyday life was conducted. Also investigated were feelings of job satisfaction and burnout in relation to these differences. Findings suggest that professors see themselves as more extraverted, emotionally stable, caring/supportive, professionally competent, and better communicators as teachers than in their everyday lives. However, adjunct professors lacked distinctiveness in all areas. Social science professors were less open to new experiences as teachers than in their everyday lives, while natural science professors were more open. In a few instances, larger differences between one’s teaching persona and everyday life were significantly related to more burnout and less job satisfaction. Being more conscientious, feeling more capable, and perceiving oneself as a better communicator in the teacher-role was associated with more job burnout.