Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Action Research Project Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom? Western New England University

Kristen Dailey ED 601 Research for Teachers June 8, 2013
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Research Question: This study sought to pursue the correlations that exist between teacher's wardrobe and the relationships and perceptions that they maintain. The basis of this study was formed around one key question, specifically, does a teacher's dress code have any influence upon student and teacher relationships? The hypothesis was that clothing shapes first impressions, but that other factors change the dynamics of student / teacher relationships. The core of this project aimed to answer whether or not a dress code for teachers is merited, to examine how the clothing we wear influences the ways in which our students perceive us as professionals, and to explore and develop whether what we wear as educators has a direct influence on the ways in which we interact with our students.

Background: My current workplace has few limitations for faculty dress code, and there are great differences in the ways that the teachers dress. While some of the teachers come to school in dresses, skirts, and collared shirts, others come in flip flops and jeans. I am curious to explore what impression this gives the students about the staff. With no formal dress code for teachers in place at my school, teachers are permitted to wear whatever they like, from Bermuda shorts to flip flops. I was interested to see if I could highlight any direct correlation between faculty dress and student behavior, and to assess whether or not students pay much attention to what their teachers are wearing. Often, rules are difficult to enforce at my school, particularly in terms of the student uniform. Can I reasonably question a student's sandaled feet when some of my colleagues are also wearing flip-flops? Should I challenge a rogue bra strap peeking out of a student's shirt when another teacher is dressed similarly? The students are required to wear uniforms Monday through

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Thursday, and Friday is free dress day. I wonder if the school environment would change if teachers had to adhere to similar rules. This study uses surveys of students and teachers from the International School of Monagas in Maturín, Venezuela. I also solicited responses from teachers I know who are teaching in places other than Venezuela. Several of my past students also completed a survey; they too are located in places other than Venezuela. In total, I received 62 student responses from Venezuela, 11 from the United States, 1 from Canada and 3 from Taiwan. The survey for teachers did not include a question of where they were located.

Review of Literature: Clothing choices lead to personal style. The stores frequented and the purchases made can help distinguish anyone as an individual. Whether a distinct pair of earrings, a penchant for prints or pocket squares, or a bow-tie—most people enjoy a certain level of personalization to a wardrobe. The clothing worn by educators is noticed by the students; this is a point reinforced by numerous studies. With stories of students like Jeff Bliss, the current viral sensation who questions the role of his teacher in a world history classroom, it is important to reflect upon the fact that our students are thinking, breathing people who look to us to guide them through their academic experiences. Perhaps this student presents a valid criticism of his teacher; only those in the classroom can really make a sound judgement. Perhaps he is just a disgruntled adolescent who has fallen into the seemingly easy tendency to blame teachers for his own student apathy. The message we can take from this is a simple one. Our students are watching. They notice our behavior, the work we assign, the materials we present and the clothing we wear. The issue of profession attire in an educational setting is not a new one. Images of high-collared, stocking clad school teachers reference another time; high heeled shoes have
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

given way to ballet flats, and many men have cast aside their jackets and ties for a tucked-in polo shirt and khaki pants. Students seated in teacher-preparation classes are advised to dress professionally, to present themselves in a fashion which will command a level of respect from their own students. Some schools within the United States have adopted formal dress code policies for teachers, while others call into question whether or not it is a violation of one's rights as an individual. In some instances, unions have stepped forward to challenge these policies. Although there has been an ongoing conversation about professional attire and clothing choices for educators, there is little formal research which addresses this specific topic. Some of the research supports the premise that teachers who are dressed formally are viewed in higher esteem than their less well-dressed colleagues, while others suggest that a teacher's wardrobe has little direct correlation to command in the classroom. This review is presented with limitations. Much of the material found speaks to a population of students in university settings, while the subject of this action research project seeks to focus on high school students. Another limitation that manifested during the research for this review was that much of the existing data is dated and consequently unavailable. Much of the literature which exists on this topic supports the premise that teachers who are dressed formally are perceived in the most positive way. According to Morris, Gorham, Cohen & Huffman (1996), a study done by Rollman in 1980 determined that "teachers dressed formally were seen as more organized, knowledgeable and better prepared; those dressed informally were seen as more friendly, flexible, sympathetic, fair and enthusiastic than the other modes of dress. Males were rated as most stimulating in moderately formal attire, and both males and females score highest on perceived clarity in the moderately formal condition(137). This stands as one example among several which support the idea that dressing formally puts forth a greater perception. The disconnect
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

occurs, it seems, in terms of approachability; this study suggests that those dressed more casually gain more friendship points. Perhaps this is what caused faculty attire to yield to more casual selections. Rollman's study, like many of the others referenced, was conducted more than thirty years ago. Today's classroom hosts students quite different from those thirty years their senior. Today's students are unfamiliar with a time before the internet, with card catalogs or VHS tapes. For this reason, one might question how relevant studies conducted with the students of thirty years ago is for today. Have opinions changed regarding whether or not teacher attire is important? In a more recent study conducted by Morris et al (1996), guest lecturers were invited into classrooms wearing various modes of dress from casual to formal. The findings showed that the instructors dressed more formally had the most consistent results for "cool" perceptions, such as competence, composure and knowledge. This study also supports preexisting studies on this topic which suggest that clothing which raises perceptions in "cool" categories creates a greater distance for students and teachers in the "warm" categories, which include sociability, extroversion, kindness, empathy and being interesting. Casually dressed teachers were rated highest in the warm categories. One key distinction between this present study and others before it is that it evaluates perceptions in a live context; studies done previously used photographs. The study found that the effects of attire in a live setting was not as apparent as results found in studies using photographs. It seems impossible to eliminate the notion that the human factor of a live study introduces many more variables than clothing alone. As a way to follow the initial study conducted, Gorham, Cohen, & Morris (1997) sought to recreate and reevaluate their previous findings the following year. Many of the variables remained the same; once again psychology classes were used, with a new year bringing a new pool of students. The modification introduced into this second study was the idea of teacher immediacy, or behavior. The study determined that their "results parallel
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previous findings (Morris, Gorham, Cohen & Huffman, 1996) that have indicated less pronounced effects of attire on personal perceptions studied in a live interaction setting rather than as responses to photographs... behavior was clearly of more importance in influencing rater judgements" (pgs. 18-19). This brings forth a series of questions. Do the clothes truly make the man, so to speak? Could a professional wardrobe guarantee academic engagement while earning respect from the students? Do Birkenstocks and a graphic teeshirt ensure that someone is approachable? In education, there are so many factors which influence the success of a lesson, clothing is just one of them. Gorham, et al., assembled for a third time to evaluate the role of teacher attire on student perceptions, with the framework of the study again altered slightly. "The third principle of attribution concerns homophily, the degree to which two people perceive themselves as similar to one another. Homophily has been found to be related to voluntary exposure to communication and the ability to influence (Morris, Gorham, Cohen & Huffman, 1996, 1999, p. 285). As Gorham et al. (1999) predicted, much of the study reinforced previous findings. In terms of homophily, gender played a large role. "Much of the research on clothing and person perceptions concludes that females are more responsive to clothing cues than are males" (p. 292). Findings suggest that in addition to perceptions formed by one's gender, age was influential in the results of this study. After three studies, the team has determined that conventions of dressing for success do not have a direct correlation to student perceptions of instructors in a university setting; "based on findings...we are convinced that conventional wisdom does not in this case apply" (Morris, Gorham, Cohen & Huffman, 1996, 1999, p. 296). Experts within the field of education suggest that clothing does, in fact, matter. While a great deal of the information is anecdotal, the volume of people speaking to this concept suggests that it is worth reflecting upon. Ronald Lemos (2007), for example, claims that "[f] ormality provides a useful structure for helping students accomplish their academic
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objectives" (p. 46). Perhaps he stands as a figurehead for a time rapidly fading into antiquity. Set against the backdrop of the studies conducted by Gorham et al., Lemos represents the part of academia wishing to hang onto the formality of a classroom. He claims that "[h]ow faculty members present themselves in class influences how students respond to them. Using etiquette in the classroom shows respect for students and demonstrates their importance" (p. 47). After listing an Emily Post-esque list of dos and don'ts for teachers, he reaches his point, [if] "you would not do this when presenting a paper at a professional conference; do not do it during your lectures" (p. 47). Within the field of education exists a vast span of topics which can be debated and disputed; with the material that currently exists regarding the issue of teacher attire, it is possible that this may just come down to personal and professional opinion. Ronald Lemos is not alone in his support of formality in the classroom. Karen Thickstun (2007), a music teacher, reinforces the necessity of dressing as a professional in order to gain the professional respect of others. Sebastian & Bristow (2008) reference studies which reinforce their ideas. They cite others before them who have determined that formality in the classroom has favorable results. They reference Molloy (1988), who "inferred that formal dress strongly affects how people are treated and that formal codes on dress improve performance, motivation, and attendance. 'We are more likely to believe, respect, and obey the man who wears a suit than the man who does not...In any level of society, suits are associated with authority, with position, with power' (Molloy, p. 41)" (Sebastian & Bristow, 2008, p. 196). Research aside, this sentiment is still held by many within the field of education. When Sebastian and Bristow conducted their own studies, they concluded, like Gorham's study before them, that "formal dress led to greater attributions of expertise than did casual dress, whereas formal dress led to lower feelings of likeability on both indexes than did casual dress. It can thus be asserted that either style of dress can be effective,
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

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depending on the professor’s impression management objectives, in university classrooms" (p. 200). Research shows that there are many other factors which play into student perceptions of an educator; perhaps it is nearly impossible to isolate the presentations of clothing alone to gain a complete understanding of how educators are perceived. It is fair to suggest that certain clothing styles immediately lead to a judgement of the type of person someone is. It may result in whether or not people are deemed intelligent or trustworth. In the 1950s, John T. Molloy, America's first wardrobe engineer, claimed that clothing possessed its own psychology. "During his early research, for example, he discovered that the Boston Strangler invariably wore beige or gray repairman-like outfits; the light colors tended to reassure housewives and helped him get into their homes" (Time, 1972). He researched the psychological implications that wardrobe had on others and made an enterprise from it. His interest in this subject was piqued while working as a teacher. Does this same idea still hold true forty years later? While existing research may not support the benefits of a professional wardrobe, many teachers still maintain that dressing up changes the feeling of a school for the better. In 1996, Joe Catalano and his colleagues from Niagara Falls, New York collectively decided to dress up on a daily basis to heighten the level of academic expectations from their students. They chose to do this without a district mandate or suggestion from their administration (Bradley, 1996). It is possible that the key points Molloy was making thirty years earlier still rang true for the students in Catalano's classroom; that his own presentation of himself as a professional who took his work seriously had a direct influence on their behavior and approach to their own educational experiences. Everyone involved in a classroom setting has opinions about certain rules of conduct. In public schools, there are often norms stated in handbooks and teacher manuals that specifically dictate modes of behavior. Prenni and Lord (1992) focus on the differences
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

which exist between school administrators and teachers in the clothing discussion. Much of their findings were anecdotal, articulating the personal preferences of several hundred staff members, including both administration and faculty. Their findings reinforce the work of Butler and Roesal (1989), who "found that while the teacher's attire did play a role in student learning, no single, particular style was better than another" (Prenni and Lord, 1992 p. 581). This supports the idea that clothing style is often a mode of professional and personal preference. Even though the research suggests that attire is secondary to the success of a teacher in a classroom, they point out that "strong differences of opinion between school administrators and teachers on the appropriate dress for effective teaching tend to exist in the nation's schools" (p. 579). Overall, this study found teachers and administrators split on the role clothing plays in the classroom. Million (2004) also found that many administrators support a professional dress code, "teachers should dress for the business of school" (p. 59). In a series of studies conducted by Carr, Davies, & Lavin, the question of perception and attire is again tested. While seeking to determine a correlation between student perceptions of a professor in terms of professionalism and instructional quality, a study was done with students in business classes. They found, similarly to the work of Gorham, et al, that "[i]t has been documented that attire has communicative power and that nonverbal messages may be much more powerful than the spoken word. As educators strive to prepare students for their futures, it is important to be mindful of the fact that all which is conveyed plays a part in the educational process, be it spoken or unspoken" (Carr, Davies, & Lavin, 2009, p. 59). It is clear that other factors reinforce student perceptions of their teachers. To further their research, Lavin, Carr & Davies (2009) sought to examine perceptions of professor attire according to gender. The studies demonstrated that opinions of both males and females were ranked similarly in terms of professional dress. "An examination of the results indicates that in almost all cases, students had a higher opinion of the model female instructor when she was depicted in professional attire" (Lavin, Carr, Davies, 2009a, p. 9).
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Similarly, "results presented in this paper suggest that both male and female students generally had a higher opinion of the model male instructor when he was depicted in professional attire versus casual or business casual attire" (Lavin, et al., 2009a, p. 11). The gender difference was presented in professors dressed in casual attire, "[w]hen the sample was split based on the gender of the respondents, there were significant differences in male and female student perceptions of male instructors dressed in casual and business casual attire" (Lavin, et al., 2009b, p. 10). Overall, the two studies determined that women were more inclined to evaluate a professor favorably, stating that women "rate faculty more highly than male students do, even when the instructor is not of their own gender" (Lavin, et al., 2009b, p. 11). The findings of these two research studies conclude that gender plays a role in student perceptions of professors in the university setting. How much does our credibility impact our capacity to teach well? Does whether or not a student views us as a credible source of information influence the way they behave in class? In a 2010, another study led by Lavin, Carr, & Davies was conducted to examine perception of the credibility of the professor from clothing. "On the surface, this finding suggests that students tend to rate the professor, the quality of instruction and the overall educational experience more positively when the professor's attire is perceived to be professional when compared to a less professional, more casual instructor appearance" (Lavin, et al., 2010, p. 51). It appears that the research throughout these studies is the same, while the points of evaluation change. Additionally, this study focuses upon the other traits and characteristics that may impact student perceptions of their professors, which they determine have a significant impact upon the students. These traits include "the instructor’s level of preparation, knowledge of the subject matter, and ability to prepare students for a career" (Lavin, et al., 2010, p. 56). The findings of this study suggest that professors who are respected and considered more credible than others have less disciplinary issues from their students. Students who behave make any instructor's life easier.
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

What other points of judgement are influenced by the clothing educators wear? Carr, Davies, & Lavin, 2010, reference an earlier study, noting that "Lukavsky, Butler and Harden (1995) studied the impact of attire on the personal characteristics of approachability, inflexibility, and respect. They found significant differences in student perceptions of those three characteristics based on whether the instructor was formally or informally dressed. The instructor who dressed informally was rated most approachable and most flexible but at the same time commanded the least amount of respect" (p. 3). While much of the existing research questions the merits of a professional attire on student perceptions, is it possible that professional clothing does in fact earn a deeper level of respect from students? In the ways that our students make judgements about us based upon the clothing we wear, often teachers make judgements about their students upon these same principles. A different perspective on the influence of clothing and the perception of others is addressed by Dorothy Behling, 1995. In contrast to most of the studies presented in this review, she discusses the ways in which a student's clothing can guide a teacher to make an opinion about his or her potential and capacity to learn. She references Behling & Williams, 1991, who suggest "clothing alone can create [a] 'halo effect'." Research indicates individuals who follow the cultural dress norms (e.g., suits are "good" and ragged jeans and worn t-shirts are not) are viewed more positively, even being perceived as a student with academic potential" (p. 11). Could this same philosophy apply to our students' perceptions of their teachers? Would a well-dressed person not seem more knowledgable and prepared than their flip-flop wearing, tousled colleagues? In an article by Stacey Patton, 2012, Ernest L. Gibson III speaks to a different necessity to dress well. He states, "[a]s a person of color, I feel that I must be 10 times more invested in how I present myself. As one unable to escape the markers and significations of a black body, I am always aware of the role my race plays in coloring people's perception of me, especially as an intellectual" (p. 3). If research is correct and many other factors influence student perceptions of their educators, does Gibson present
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a valid argument? In a profession that is largely represented by people from ethnic backgrounds other than African-American, are his feelings justified in feeling as if he has a bit more to prove? James Lang (2005) directly addresses the motivations for teachers to select the clothing they do in an opinion essay. "I will confess that I wonder about the motivations of the sharp dressers. I wonder whether they use sharp dressing as a means to establish their authority with students: 'Within these pointy shoes are contained the wisdom of the ages. The pointy shoes make me the boss.' I'm tempted, too, to equate sharp dressing with teaching style. According to reports from his students, the sharpest-dressed faculty member I ever knew — expensive suits hanging off a sculpted body — presented his views forcefully in his humanities classes, in lecture form, and expected students to repeat those views back to him on papers and exams" (p. 2). Is it possible that the clothing we wear is in fact reflective of the teachers we are? Is it fair to equate formality with a formalized, more traditional approach to education as a whole? Is this a statement we can make about the selection of clothing across the spectrum? At this point, current research reinforces that the role of clothing on student perceptions of their teachers is a limited scope of vision. Our clothing only plays a minimal role; many other factors determine the relationships we are able to develop with our students. The studies have demonstrated that there is existing support for both casual presentation of clothing as well as a formal presentation; one gives the perception that the subject matter is taken seriously, while the other presents a level of approachability. If the studies demonstrate that other factors are more important to the ways in which we are perceived by our students, it seems that teachers can dress the way they feel best works for them and fill in the gaps later.

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

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Methodology: The data for this study was collected through two online surveys. One was written and drafted for teachers (Table 1) to determine feelings about the clothing they wear and gather opinions on dress codes. The second was written for students. This first portion (Table 2) of the student survey solicited opinions about clothing choices in general; the second portion (Table 3) presented ten models wearing a variety of outfits, and asked students to assess the "teacher" based upon the clothing they were wearing. Two online surveys were used for the purpose of this project. The International School of Monagas has a relatively small number of students; the entire population of the school is under two hundred. Creating a survey that was accessible online allowed for a broader range of students and teachers to provide information, and offered a consistent method of data collection for all participants. Students from Venezuela were taken to the computer lab in groups to complete the student survey. The average time of completion was between ten and twelve minutes. Several of the students were unable to submit their results as the internet failed, which presented difficulties. Teacher surveys were solicited through email and an online posting. The results of both surveys were compiled to try to form an answer about the core question of this project, assessing whether or not the clothing a teacher wears influences the perceptions of that teacher held by the students. The surveys provided an opportunity to conduct research with two populations—teachers and students—around a similar topic, teacher wardrobe.

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

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Table One: Survey
Link to Survey

Teacher Survey: Wardrobe
1. What is your gender? Male Female
18 to 24 25 to 34 35 to 44 45 to 54 55 to 64 65 or older

2. What is your age?

3. What grade(s) do you teach?

K-5, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, Twelfth Yes Sometimes Rarely No Yes Sometimes Rarely No Yes Sometimes Rarely No Yes Sometimes Rarely No Yes Sometimes Rarely No Yes Sometimes Rarely No Yes No 14

4. Do you think that teachers' wardrobes influence the way they are perceived by colleagues? Care to explain?

5. Do you think that teachers' wardrobes influence the way they are perceived by their students? Care to explain?

6. Do you think teachers' wardrobes influence the ways they are perceived by the parents of their students? Care to explain?

7. Do you feel that student behavior can be influenced by a teacher's wardrobe? Care to explain?

8. Do you feel that a teacher's wardrobe can influence student success? Care to explain?

9. Do the clothes you wear influence how professional you feel? Care to explain?

10. Do you support a dress code for teachers?

Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Table Two: Survey
Link to Survey

Student Survey: Teacher Wardrobe, Part One
1. What is your gender? 2. What is your age?
Male, Female 12 or younger 13 to 17 18 to 24 25 to 34 35 or older

3. What grade are you in?

K-5 Sixth Seventh Eighth Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, Senior, Undergraduate, Graduate

4. Where in the world are you? (Country, state, etc.) 5. How often do you pay attention to what the people around you are wearing?

Open Answer Always Sometimes Rarely Never I don't know

6. How often do you pay attention to what your teachers are wearing?

Always Sometimes Rarely Never I don't know

7. When you meet someone new, how much does what they are wearing influence your first opinion of him or her? 8. Do you think the clothes your teacher wears influences the way you think about him or her as a person?

Very much A little Not at all I don't know Always Sometimes Rarely Never I don't know

9. Does clothing tell you about someone's personality? Please explain 10. Do your clothes reveal anything about your personality? Please explain

Always Sometimes Rarely Never Always Sometimes Rarely Never

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For the second part of the survey, students were shown ten individual photographs of models wearing a variety of clothing combinations. For each photograph they were asked to respond to the following questions: Table Three: Survey

Student Survey: Teacher Wardrobe, Part Two
1. What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply) 2. Are there any other adjectives you can think of? 3. Would you like it if your teacher dressed this way? Care to explain? 4. Does this seem like a teacher who would have a good command of his students? Organized, Strict, Kind, Knowledgeable, Distant, Interesting, Unprofessional, Disorganized, Easygoing, Mean, Unprepared, Approachable, Boring, Professional Open Answer Yes No No opinion Yes No No opinion

The images below were presented in the survey. They were created using H&M's online dressing room. They are presented larger in the results portion.

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Table Five: Research Timeline Weeks Action

1. Review literature. Monday, May 6th—Sunday, 2. Create and prepare materials for data collection: sample photographs, survey May 12th, 2013 questions, response forms for teachers and students. Monday, May 13th— Sunday, May 19th, 2013 Monday, May 20th— Sunday, May 26th, 2013 Monday, May 27th— Sunday, June 2nd 2013 1. Contact friends/previous students and solicit involvement from other schools. 2. Prepare final copies of survey questions and materials. 3. Begin administering surveys in school, and post to Facebook. 1. Conduct research and have students complete surveys and response forms. 2. Collect and organize data. 1. Compile and analyze data. 2. Create data representations—charts, graphs, etc. 3. Determine if professional attire influences student perceptions of their teachers.

Results/Analysis: 43 teachers completed the survey on teacher wardrobe; twenty-nine are female, and fourteen male. A majority of the teachers are aged 35-44, and most are high school teachers. The participants are located in Venezuela, Taiwan, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Korea, Oman, Vietnam and the United States. 60.47% of the teachers polled feel that teacher wardrobes influence the ways they are perceived by their colleagues. 39.53% feel that this is true sometimes. Several comments suggest that a professional appearance influences the perceptions made about a person's intelligence and ability to teach and that someone with a professional wardrobe is taken more seriously. Others suggest that clothing can make a teacher appear too uptight, or too liberal. Three people commented that once you know someone, looks can be deceiving. When asked if teacher wardrobes influence the ways that students see teachers, 67.44% chose yes, 27.91% chose sometimes, and 4.65% chose rarely. The comments section revealed that quite a few teachers feel that this is increasingly more important for young teachers, as they can use clothing to distance themselves from students who are close in age. Affirmative numbers rose when addressing whether teachers' wardrobes influence
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the way they are perceived by their students' parents. 74.42% chose yes, 23.26% sometimes, and only 2.33%, one person, chose rarely. Several of the comments pointed to the tendency of most teachers to dress up nicely for parent meetings and Back to School night functions. Others pointed out that adults have a greater consciousness of professionalism and the need to dress appropriately for school. The participants of this study were split on whether or not a teacher's wardrobe can influence student behavior. 32.56% chose yes, 39.53% sometimes, 9.30% rarely and 18.60% no. The comments reflect that personality and rapport with students has a greater influence than clothing, but dressing too casually may convey a message that the teacher is not taking the class seriously, so the students do not need to either. A similar split was demonstrated regarding whether or not a teacher's wardrobe can influence student success. 23.81% chose yes, 30.9% sometimes, 19.05% rarely and 26.19% no. Many of the comments suggested that a teacher is a role model, and that teachers lead by example; quite a few of the participants suggest that there are much better ways to motivate students than the clothing they wear. 68.29% of the teachers polled state that the clothes they wear can influence how professional they feel. 19.51% said sometimes, 2.44% rarely, and 9.76% no. "When I am dressed like a teacher, I feel more like a teacher," said one of the participants. Overall, a greater percentage of participants favor a dress code, with the count coming in 34 to 9. One flaw in these results occurs because there are so few participants. While responses were solicited several times, only 43 people completed the survey. This answers indicative of what was expected. It would be interesting to develop this study and complete it on a larger, more international scale. In Japan, all teachers are required to wear suits to school for a large portion of the year; in the hot months, a "cool biz" dress code is acceptable. In Taiwan, many of the women tend to wear clothing that is tight, and casual. In Venezuela, a nice pair
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of jeans with high heels is considered dressed up. Examining cultural norms of expectation for clothing may help to advance this study and give clarity to cultural differences in clothing style. The student survey had a total of 77 participants from the United States, Venezuela, Taiwan and Canada. The participants consisted of, 16 grade 7 students, 9 grade 8 students, 11 students in grade 9, 10 students in grade 10, 12 juniors, 6 seniors, 5 undergraduates, and 7 graduate students. The survey sought to determine student perceptions of teachers based upon the clothing that they wear. It built upon similar ideas as the teacher survey, while allowing an opportunity to compile data with a practical application. The data was compiled using ten different photographs with the same questions for each. Ten images were used to present both male and female teachers in a range of clothing from very casual to dressy. Since the participants are mostly in grades 7-12, ten images with the same questions may have been too many. The rate of skipped questions increased the further into the survey they got. This age bracket represented the highest rate of skipped questions. Students were asked to complete a series of questions based upon their observations of others based upon clothing. 63.64% of students say that they pay attention to what the people around them are wearing sometimes, and 22.08% said they notice always, 10.39% rarely, and 3.90% never. 49.35% said that they sometimes notice what their teachers are wearing, 25.97% always notice, 15.58% rarely notice, and 7.79% never notice. More females than males chose yes for these two questions, and the only never votes were from males. The hypothesis for this study considered that clothing would have a greater impact for first impressions. Only 18.8 % of the students demonstrate that clothing has a great impact on a first meeting of someone, while a majority of students, 57.14% said that clothing matters a little. 20.78% suggest that clothing matters not at all in a first impression, and 3.90% said that they don't know whether or not it matters. Many of the comments suggested that you can often determine how much wealth a person has according to his or
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her clothing. Others indicated that clothing is a good way to convey style, so clothing provides insight into someone's personality. When asked specifically about teacher wardrobes, 16% of students said that their opinions of a teacher are shaped by the clothing he or she wears, 44% suggest that this occurs sometimes, 24% rarely, and 16% never. The high ranking from sometimes suggests that largely students use clothing as only one component of judging a teacher. In response to a question about the correlations between clothing and personality, 16.88% said clothing always tells about someone's personality, 67.53% sometimes, 10.39% rarely and 5.19% never. Comments from the students highlight the links between clothing choices and style, personality and interests. A few point out that looks can be deceiving. When asked about their own clothing choices in relation to their personalities, 23.38% said their clothing always reveals something about their personality, 58.44% said sometimes, 11.69% rarely, and 6.49% said clothing never reveals anything about their personality. In the comments, students suggest that clothing choices can be indicative of mood; darker colors or comfortable clothing are more appealing when a person is feeling sad, brighter colors or dressing up shows when someone is happy. The charted data below demonstrates the responses yielded from the students regarding each photograph and their stylistic preferences for each. Each student was asked to apply a series of adjectives and an opportunity to add additional comments, as well as to vote whether or not this is how they would like a teacher to dress, and whether or not this teacher appears like someone who could manage a classroom well. There were few common themes to draw from the comments section—often these yielded perceptions based upon other factors and building upon stereotypes, for example Asians are smart. Perhaps with the amount of options provided students had difficulty applying additional terms to each photograph. Also, as the students worked further through the essay, the amount of comments rapidly dwindled.
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Table Six: Male Teacher Results

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What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

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What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

24

Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

25

Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Table Seven: Adjectives for Males

The students determined William One, wearing one variation of casual dress was the least interesting and mean of the teachers presented. They decided that David Two, the most dressed up, was the most organized, strict, knowledgable, and professional, and the least unprofessional, distant, easygoing, and unprepared. William Three, wearing an outfit indicative of the more casual end of business casual dress, had the most preferred style for students, and was voted the least distant and boring of all the teachers. David Four, wearing a business casual outfit, had rankings in the middle of the spectrum, reaching neither maximum highs nor lows for the students. William Five, was the most casual and the least desired from students. He was viewed as the least organized, strict, kind, knowledgable, and professional. Students also determined that he was the most easygoing, distant, unprofessional and unprepared of his peers.
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Table Eight: Female Teacher Results

What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

28

Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

29

Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

30

Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

What adjectives would you use to describe the teacher pictured above? (check all that apply)

31

Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

Table Nine: Adjectives for Females

Claire One, the most dressed up of the teachers presented, was found as the most organized, strict, knowledgable, and professional. She was also perceived as the least unprofessional, distant, easygoing, and unprepared. The students determined that while she may have the greatest command of a class, they would not like a teacher who dresses this way. Leah Two, the most casually dressed of the styles presented, was seen as the least organized, strict, knowledgable, and professional. She ranked highest for unprofessional, unprepared, easygoing and distant. Students determined that she would have the least command of a classroom out of the teachers presented, and also found her look to be the least desirable. Claire Three, in a casual dress with a sweater, had the look most preferred by students. She was perceived as the most kind, interesting and approachable, and the least
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

distant. A great percentage of students also determined that she would have a strong command of her classroom. Leah Four ranked in the middle of the spectrum. Students had the least opinions about her of all the teachers presented. The final teacher was Claire Five. In a pair of jeans and a blazer, students determined that she was the second most professionally dressed. Statistics show that she was in the middle of the spectrum for all categories. A majority determined that they would like a teacher who dresses this way, and that she appears as someone who would have a good command of a classroom.

Conclusions / Interpretations: The results yielded from the male models in this study were varied. According to the students, most would like a teacher who dresses like the third one presented in the series, William Three. Interestingly, this is the clothing style worn by most of the teachers at the International School of Monagas, as a collared shirt and dark jeans are permissible according to the dress code. The least preferred style was that of the last teacher, William Five, who dons flip flops and a tank top. This dress code also yielded negative results about professionalism and preparedness, and although he was ranked as the most easygoing, students determined that he would have little control over a classroom. David Two, who wears a bow tie, was the clear leader in professionalism, knowledge and organization. Additionally, the students found that out of the five teachers presented, David Two was perceived as someone who would have the greatest command of a classroom. This demonstrates that students associate someone who is well dressed with positive character traits. Interestingly, he was not ranked highly for any of the negative traits, although he was voted the least easygoing of the teachers profiled. William Three was ranked as the kindest and the most preferred dressing style, and David Four was ranked in the middle for almost all categories, except he seems the most distant of all the teachers by a small margin.
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

This study yielded a great number of responses from the students who took this survey, and a large percentage demonstrated that when it comes to teacher wardrobe and what teachers choose to wear, they have no opinion. The comment portion of these survey questions indicated that there are many other contributing factors for the way a teacher manages a classroom, so clothing does not play a large role in that. Other comments spoke to the aesthetics of the clothing in general, questioning pairings of shirts and pants, shoes, etc. The results yielded from the female models in this study were less varied than that of the male teachers. According to the students, most would like a teacher who dresses like the third one presented in the series, Claire Three. Just as the most preferred clothing style of the males most resembled the teachers at the International School of Monagas, it was Claire Three who inspired the most comments about how it seems like something several of the teachers at school, myself included, would wear. It is curious to wonder if these added a more personal element to the ranking given by students. The least preferred style was that of the second teacher, Leah Two, pictured wearing tennis shoes, jean shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Students determined that she looked like someone with limited knowledge, preparedness and professionalism. A large percentage of students assessed that she would not have great control over a classroom while determining that she was the most easygoing. Claire One was rated as the teacher with the greatest control over a classroom either male or female, and the least easygoing. There appears to be a correlation with someone being easygoing and having an out of control classroom. The students also determined that David Two had the best command of a classroom; he was also ranked the least easygoing. It is easy to find similarities between Claire One and David Two, as they are paired together as the most professionally dressed of the lot. Additionally, statistics students give strong credence to the idea that a person who is dressed professionally will behave accordingly, and the converse also appears true.
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

From the data collected, it is clear to see that there are limitations to a full assessment of teacher wardrobe and the dynamics of a classroom. There are many other factors which influence student perceptions, and, for that matter, teacher success. The one point that seems most clear from the data collected is that there is such thing as too casual, as the teachers wearing shorts and tank tops were given very little credit in terms of professionalism, preparedness, knowledge and management. Even though personality may greatly influence a teacher's success in the class and his or her students' perceptions, it may be difficult to transcend the opinions formed by students when the teacher dresses in an unprofessional manner.

Reflections: This project may have worked differently at a different time in the school year. It would be interesting to see how the results may have been different if a new teacher at the beginning of the year with students who did not know the teacher manipulated wardrobe to see if it in any way changed the dynamics of the classroom. The results, however, would be difficult to analyze as there are many factors which contribute to classroom management and student behaviors. The goal of this project was to collect as much data as possible to gain insight into the feelings held by both teachers and students about wardrobe. In the future, it would be more beneficial to work with a larger population of students and teachers from different areas, and to try and develop the cultural implications of teacher dress code. With the teacher survey, it would be nice to include a geographical component to determine a point of origin and a current place of residence. This would help to support the cultural norms and boundaries presented in the opinions held by teachers regarding teacher wardrobes. The second survey was a bit long, as the students continued and the photographs of the women teachers began, there were far fewer responses from students in the comment
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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

portions. It is difficult to discern whether this is because the process was becoming tiresome or whether the women teachers inspired students to say less. For future studies, it might be advisable to randomize the presentation of the photographs and questions, to determine if it is order, or the photograph itself that triggers certain responses. Administering this survey to teachers may also help to compile information of the differences between student and teacher perceptions about wardrobe. To do this, a modified version of the second survey would need to be developed, perhaps changing the grade to age, and offering an opportunity to declare whether the participant is a teacher or a student. This project was successful in collecting information about student perceptions about teacher clothing styles and the correlations to personality and skill sets. Although this study was able to yield enough information for analysis, the scale through which it was conducted is limited. It might be beneficial to further research of this nature to manipulate different factors to determine whether results would vary.

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

K. Dailey

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Looking Sharp: Do a teacher's clothes matter in the classroom?

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