Written By Gregory Fischbach

July 12, 2023
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Gerard Dericks (center) with HPU students at the HPU College of Business

Gerard Dericks (center) with HPU students at the HPU College of Business.

HPU Director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Education Gerard Dericks, Ph.D., has recently co-authored an article entitled, “Are satisfied students simply happy people in the first place? The role of trait affect in student satisfactionin the journal Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education.

The term “trait affect” refers to the innate personality trait responsible for differences in the way individuals tend to experience positive and negative emotions across time, circumstances, and stimuli.

“Student satisfaction ratings of educational experiences are embedded into government policy, university rankings, and are a focus of many institutions of higher education,” Dericks said. “However, there is an on-going academic debate about how relevant student satisfaction assessments are in actually evaluating beneficial educational outcomes.” 

The article demonstrates that around a quarter of measured student satisfaction is due solely to unalterable aspects of their personality, and therefore cannot be affected by changes to their educational environment.

“While I personally think student satisfaction ratings can be useful, this study will help educators to make better judgments about what can and should be drawn from them," Dericks remarked.

Dericks joined HPU in 2021 and leads all aspects of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Economic Education. The Center’s primary focus is its “Economics for Hawaiʻi Teachers” course that is taught by Dericks as a free resource for all Hawaiʻi teachers. The course was designed to give teachers the opportunity to strengthen their economic understanding and impart effective pedagogy to integrate economic principles into their lesson plans.

Dericks obtained his doctoral degree in real estate economics from the London School of Economics. He has held teaching positions at the London School of Economics, University of Bath, and University of Oxford. During his time at the University of Oxford, he served as the lead economist for the NaturEtrade project and worked as a post-doctoral research fellow. His research has been featured in publications such as The Economist, Financial Times, Nikkei Business, BBC, CBS, Science Magazine, Nature, Physics World, BizEd, Psychology Today, and Times Higher Education. Additionally, he is the founder and director of the World Scholars Academy, an academic summer school based in Hawai‘i.



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