Buldu (509 Buldu, M. 2006) identified the perceptions as the feeling or the capability, or the condition of being aware, or the state of knowing. Myers, on the other hand, (510 Myers, S.A. 1995) explains the perceptions as a scientific procedure where stimuli and knowledge are passed on to the brain using intuition and the five human senses. According to these definitions, a person is able to be aware of things, people, thoughts and events. Moreover, the perceptions may also be explained according to physical, physiological and psychological point of view.
For instance, Eggen and Kaucha’s (511 Eggen, P and Kauchak, D. 2001) explain the perceptions as cognitive aspects by which people give meanings to the experiences in their lives. However, the perceptions cannot be performed in oblivion. Since, they depend upon the background information that triggers reaction.
Allport(1966) (512 Adediwura, A.A. and Tayo, B. 2007) proposed that perceptions is the way we see or think about people around, or the method used to assess people who are around daily. The perceptions of the students depend significantly on the ideas they were taught in the university by their professors and lecturers. Furthermore, it is possible that their heads are already filled with reflections and reactions that inventories for the information determine.
The way the students perceive their university teacher differs with cultures. Each society possesses its own culture. For example, students in Saudi Arabia or Libya differ from students in Asia. It means that the idea of a good university teacher in the West may not be the same as in the Arab world. Finally, even the students of the same religion or country may have different ideas about personal traits of a good university lecturer. All these peculiarities will be described next.
The Way Students Perceive Their University Lecturers
Chireshe (513 Chireshe, Regis. 2011) conducted a survey in Zimbabwe and studied the way university students’ perceive their teachers and the image of an effective lecturer. Seventy-seven students took part in the survey. A form with questions was used to collect information on this topic. Later, content analysis was applied in order to analyze the information. The collected data allowed to make the following conclusions: there is a set of characteristics typical for the effective lecturer: well organised, knowledgeable, involves students, sociable and easy to communicate with. Moreover, the survey showed that effective lecturers are fair in grading. Furthermore, ineffective lecturers are not ready for the class, are often late, are incompetent in their subject, and are not interested in involving students in various activities and discussions.
Another study was conducted by Rosle et al. (514 Mohidin, Rosle 2009). The aim of the survey was to study the way the accounting students perceive their lecturer and his characteristics, which contribute to the studying process of the students. One hundred fifty students took part in the survey at University Malaysia Sabah. The results of the study showed that the students favoured a lecturer who was positive in communicating with his students. In addition, the majority of the participants stated that the personality of a lecturer plays an important role in their mutual communication without any obstacles.
Aregbeyen (515 Aregbeyen , Omo 2010) also carried out a survey at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. Six hundred and two students participated in the study. The objective of the study was to examine students’ perception of the characteristics of a good teacher. The results of the study showed that the students would prefer such characteristics for the effective teacher as sensible, polite, easy to approach, stimulating, patient, and consistent.
Similar survey was carried out by Barnes & Lock (516 Barnes, Bruce D. 2010) at the University of Korea. They asked the students to write the attributes for an effective lecturer. The results were thoroughly analyzed, and the attributes were grouped according to different criteria. Finally, students expressed a desire and preferences for the number of characteristics, which would contribute to creating the atmosphere of respect and dignity in the class. Among them are enthusiastic, tolerant, friendly, knows and uses students’ names, is eager to share personal experience and knowledge.
Trice & Hriss (517 Trice, Ashton & Charless, Hrris N/D) conducted their study at the American University in Bulgaria. Sixty two American students, who specialize in prerequisite psychology and are going to become teachers at a state university, and fifty one Bulgarian students also participated in the study. The survey was aimed to examine the students’ perception of their teachers’ qualities. The results showed that the American students preferred ‘enthusiasm’ as the most important quality while Bulgarian students put ‘knowledge’ for the first place and ‘enthusiasm’ for the last. American students put ‘knowledge’ behind ‘the good relationship with students’ and ‘enthusiasm’.
17,000 students at the University of Newfoundland, Canada participated in the survey conducted by Delaney et al. (518 Delaney, Jerome 2010). The objective of the study was to explore the students’ perception of the features of an effective university teacher. As a result, the students stated that such characteristics are typical for an effective university lecturer as: sociable, organised, erudite, professional, humorous, engaging, tolerant towards his students, and receptive.
The studies described above show that university students’ perceptions were used as the basis for these surveys. The results of the surveys prove that there are similarities in students’ perception of the characteristics of an effective university lecturer. However, students’ points of view differ concerning personal characteristics of the lecturer. It is obvious that students’ education and cultural background influences their perceptions of the characteristics of an effective university lecturer.
The sections given below will show the way the students’ from the Arab world perceive their university lecturers. It is widely known that there are similar features in cultural and educational system of the Arab countries. However, these similarities do not deny the existence of some differences between these countries. As long as the current survey was conducted in Libya, it had to stress on the details of the previous studies, which related to the same research subject and were carried out in the Arab countries. Moreover, these details aim to find out the aspects of their similarities and differences, and how can they contribute to the current research.
The Way Arab Students Perceive University Lecturers
In spite of the fact that the majority of the studies in the Arab countries were conducted in a few areas, it is necessary to state that both teachers and students were asked to participate in the study of the characteristics of the university lecturers or express their preferences as for the ideal university teacher. These studies formed an entity of characteristics typical for a university lecturer including professional, personal or other features. Moreover, the results focused more on personal characteristics. Thus, the results were not reliable concerning the classification of the university teacher characteristics. These findings concluded the next: the following chapters of this paper are given in four sections: to study the divergences based on the students’ gender (1.1.1), their academic level (1.1.2); study the effect of the students’ regions (1.1.3), and, last but not least, the differences based on the academic subjects(1.1.4).
1.1.1 Divergence of Students’ Perception of the University Lecturers Based on Their Gender
The studies above showed inconsistency among students on the basis of gender, concerning the determination of the characteristics of the university teachers. For instance, a survey carried out by Abdurrahman Al-Eysawy (1984) with one hundred seventy five undergraduate students at the University in Cairo explored students’ perception of the characteristics of an ideal teacher. The results showed that there were differences based on students’ gender. Men preferred such characteristics, which contribute to the quality of the class, positive attitude and the ability to solve students’ problems. Women favoured such traits of character as tolerance, sympathy, and concern.
The results of the previous survey were similar to the results of the study carried out by Obydat (77 Obydat. Soliman 1991). He aimed to explore the most prominent traits of a good university lecturer using the responses of four hundred forty four undergraduate students at Jordan University. The results of this study showed the difference in the students’ responses on the basis of their gender. Men favoured such traits as knowledge, the ability to help students with their difficulties, and respect. Women, on the other hand, preferred pleasant appearance, modesty, and respectful attitude towards students.
The survey carried out by Alshokiby (81 Alshokiby, Ali 1992), on the contrary, did not show significant differences in male and female responses. Seven hundred forty eight undergraduate students of Ain Shames University and Suez Canal University participated in the study. They were also asked to say what traits they preferred in their university teachers.
1.1.2 The Divergence in Students’ Perception of the University Lecturers on the Basis of Their Academic Level
It is necessary to find out if there is a difference in students’ perception of their lecturer on the basis of their academic level. According to this criterion, most of the studies showed completely different results. Some studies showed significant divergence in the results of the surveys, where students of various academic levels participated and expressed their preferences as for the traits of their university lecturers. For instance, Obydat (1990) intended to find out the most prominent traits of a good university teacher as perceived by four hundred forty four undergraduate students at Jordan University. The results of this study varied according to the students’ academic level. In particular, the students of the first and second years of study preferred such traits as modesty, good organisation, and positive attitude towards students. The students of the third and the fourth years of study emphasized such characteristics as being sensible, fair, and able to explain and teach the material (77 Obydat. Soliman 1991). Other surveys, on the contrary, showed no significant differences in the responses of students of different academic levels. For example, a survey carried out by Mandira Das (143 Das,Mandiras 1996) intended to explore the traits of a good teacher working in the class. There were one hundred twenty undergraduate students’ responses from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) University, which were made on the basis of a questionnaire with three groups of questions. There were twelve characteristics in each group. The results of this study showed that students of different academic levels have similar points of view on the research subject. All students emphasized such traits as willingness to assist students, showing profound knowledge of the subject, teaching the material in a logical manner, and acting fairly. These results were similar to the results of another study carried out by Anbar (79 Anbar, Mahmod 2006). Four hundred seventeen undergraduate students participated in the survey at the King Saudi University and were asked to express their preferences as for the characteristics of the teacher. Eventually, the results showed no divergence in the responses of the students of different academic levels. The majority of students emphasized such traits as respectful attitude towards students’ opinions, telling Islamic greetings when meeting the students, and contributing to the students’ activities and development.
1.1.3 Does the Cultural Background of the Students Influence Their Perception of a University Teacher?
Social aspects significantly affect students’ identification of the characteristics of the university teachers. The local culture and religion of a particular area have a strong impact on the students’ preferences for the traits of their university lecturer. Motwally carried out a study with one hundred eighty nine undergraduate students at Omdurman Islamic University. The objective of the study was the determination of the traits of a university lecturer on the basis of the Islamic thought. The results proved that the students had a formulated set of traits as no drinking during the class, tidy clothes, and no loud laughing (80 Motwally. Nabeil 1990). It is obvious that all these characteristics emphasised the appearance, which is prevalent in a particular culture. In addition, these results are similar to the results of the study conducted by Anbar at the King Saudi University. Four hundred seventeen students participated in the study and were asked to express preferences as for the characteristics of the university lecturer. The survey showed that students preferred: respectful attitude towards students’ opinions, telling Islamic greetings when meeting the students and contributing to the students’ activities. The most significant for the students was the beginning with an Islamic greeting (79 Anbar, Mahmod 2006). This peculiarity may be as well considered as a dominant in a particular culture.
1.1.4 Divergence According to Academic Subject
Differences in the subjects, students specialize in, may also play a significant role in identifying the preferences for the traits of the university lecturer. Every subject differs in content and teaching methods. So, it is possible to assume that there will be differences in the students’ perceptions of their university teachers on the basis of their academic subjects. For instance, the study, conducted by Motwally (80 Motwally. Nabeil 1990) at Omdurman Islamic University, focused on the way the students perceive their university teachers according to various academic subjects. As a result, there were differences in students’ determining the traits of a university lecturer according to their subjects. Social science students emphasized appearance, clothes, the use of the Arabic language, and knowledge. These traits appeared the least important for the physical education students.
Obydat (77 Obydat. Soliman 1991), on the other hand, intended to determine the most significant characteristics of a good university lecturer using the responses of four hundred forty four undergraduate students at Jordan University. The results showed that there was no difference in their perception according to their academic subjects. Moreover, the findings proved that all students agreed upon such characteristics as respect, the ability to present the material, sincerity and friendly relationships with students. These results were supported by another survey conducted by lshokiby (81 Alshokiby, Ali 1992) at Ain Shames University and Suez Canal University. This survey had to identify preferred characteristics of a university teacher according to the students’ subject area. Finally, there was no divergence between the responses of the students who specialized in different academic subjects and all of them emphasized such traits as the mastery to teach, strong personality, fairness to every student, and punctuality.
Despite the fact that numerous studies were conducted in the Arab countries in order to explore the preferred traits of a university lecturer or to figure out the ideal image of a teacher, no survey focused on personal traits of a university teacher as an inseparable part of the educational process. Personal traits of character play an important role in positive mutual communication and studying, which contributed more to the students’ development and education. However, many of these studies are being criticized. For instance, all the studies described above, do not have sufficient in-depth analysis of the information. Moreover, they lack other factors or variables, which may also have an impact on the determination of the ideal university lecturer’s traits. For example, the majority of the studies omitted or paid little attention to the factor of demographic variable, such as the level of study or gender. Furthermore, they did not consider the learning style of students, which differs significantly (199 Graf,Sabine 2009). Such mistakes might have influenced the results of the studies and particularly, the determination of the preferred traits of a university teacher. What is more, these studies were limited to the specific area where they were carried out. It concerns the Libyan example, which was not thoroughly studied. Such findings may assist the officials and university management staff to review their policy and methods of hiring university lecturers. Consequently, this may lead to positive cooperation, which would help the lecturers reconsider their methods of teaching, preparation and presenting the material in a way student would benefit from. Finally, it is an urgent problem in Libyan universities, where there are no criteria for the selection of the faculty members (171 Mohammed &,Muzher 2005).
The factors described above encouraged the researcher to carry out this survey to avoid problems in student-teacher interaction by exploring personal traits of the university lecturers. Laslty, the study was conducted using several variables such as gender, academic levels of students, learning style, and personality.