I think my professor is a democrat: Considering whether students recognize and react to faculty politics

Matthew Woessner, Penn State Harrisburg
April Kelly-Woessner, Elizabethtown College


Notwithstanding political science professors' concerted efforts to remain politically neutral in the classroom, we find evidence that students are able to successfully identify the partisan loyalties of their professors. Furthermore, we find that there is a tendency for students to drift toward the Democratic Party over the course of the semester, yet the direction of the shift appears to be unrelated to either the instructor's actual political loyalties, or to the student's perception of the professor's partisan preferences. Given that political science professors appear to exert no real influence on students' party loyalties, it is unclear whether efforts to diversify the field by hiring more Republican professors would actually reduce the liberalizing effects of higher education. © 2009 The American Political Science Association.