The university rounded up 131 students in their 20s—86 women and 45 guys—and administered the same online lesson on introductory physics. Half of the students heard a male voice, and half heard a female voice. As the students listened, 69 participants saw a video of a very attractive teacher, while the rest were stuck watching an unattractive teacher—as determined by a separate student panel. They weren't allowed to take notes, and they had to take a 25-question quiz following the lesson.
Researchers found that not only did the students with the attractive professor score better on the test, they rated the professor higher than the not-hot one, even though the lesson was the same.
The study suggests that students, regardless of gender, pay more attention and are more engaged in a lesson when the instructor is good-looking—suggesting that the connection isn't necessarily sexual in nature.
"The failure of either instructor gender or participant gender to influence this performance suggests that this effect is driven by processes independent from human sexual attraction, such as attention and motivation," the study reads.
While having more attractive teachers in classrooms might make for a more titillating school day, R. Shane Westfall, lead author of the study, told the Washington Post that more training and elevated staff experience would probably be more beneficial for students than just a slew of hot ones.