Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Committee Member

Carl R. Steinhoff

Number of Pages



Students bring preconceived beliefs and attitudes to their initial college experience. These predispositions influence their communication and interaction with faculty and others in the higher education environment. Previous research identified family, school, and peers as sources that contribute to the formation of students' predispositions. This study was designed to explore television as a fourth medium to college students' predispositions; Drawing from the perspectives of social cognitive theory and cultivation theory, portrayals of professors were analyzed in 15 episodes across three television programs. The content analysis employed both quantitative and qualitative techniques. Personality categories for the quantitative portion were adapted from the Syracuse Activity Index. The qualitative ethnographic questions were formulated from items on the Syracuse Organizational Climate Index. Both indexes were constructed from modifications of Murray's (1938) personality typology, which ensured compatibility of findings when combining quantitative and qualitative techniques; The transcription process yielded 561 lines of text from episodes of "Boy Meets World," 817 lines from "3rd Rock from the Sun," and 406 lines from "Two of a Kind." The results showed that much of the work performed by real-life college instructors was omitted from the television representations. Of the 1,784 lines of text coded, only 136 lines reflected teaching, 70 advising, 28 research and 72 service. Attributes of media portrayed professors were highly associated with aggressive, dominant, emotional, and sexually oriented behaviors. Repeated themes emerged in the qualitative analysis. (1) Professors were upset by the success of their peers. (2) Professors were not consistent in their academic relationships with students. (3) Professors spent more time pursuing personal relationships and socializing than in academic endeavors. (4) Professors depended on students for advice in their personal (significant-other) relationships. (5) Students, especially those overwhelmed in their first year of college, criticized professors; With the focus of this dissertation on portrayals of college instructors on television, the research adds to the current body of literature describing inaccuracies of television teachers at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels. The purpose of this study was to investigate and describe the media depictions of professionals in higher education. Results of this study suggest that television portrayals of professors are not worthy models for students to use in their interactions with counterparts in the real world.


College; College Students; Cultivation Theory; Medium; Media Portrayals; Portrayals; Predispositions; Profession; Students; Social Cognitive Theory; Television

Controlled Subject

Education, Higher; Mass media; School management and organization

File Format


File Size

4536.32 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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