Research conducted by the University of Sydney’s Department of Linguistics has revealed that the word ‘interesting’ is the most-used adjective in undergraduate classes.
The findings, published in a work called Interesting: Student Communication in Tertiary Contexts, required Faculty members to analyse recordings of tutorials and sit in on classes.
Lead researcher Professor Jeanette Faith said that the word ‘interesting’ was most-often cited by students who were hyper-aware of the participation element of a unit of study’s assessment scheme.
“These students aren’t necessarily contributing anything new,” she theorised. “They’re just trying to make their voices heard.”
The findings indicate that the term – dubbed “the I-word” by Faith – is uttered every three minutes in the average university tutorial. The most devoted users of the descriptor are Philosophy and Gender Studies students, while in Engineering tutorials the word is invoked, on average, only seven times per hour. According to Faith, this is because Engineering content “simply isn’t very interesting for most students”.
When asked for comment, Associate Professor of Philosophy Damien Routh called the results “int – I mean, surprising”.
The words ‘important’, ‘ironic’, ‘different’ and ‘Foucauldian’ are also key descriptors, according to the study. Faith expressed disappointment that only one word from the “noice, different, unusual” mantra of Kath & Kim ranked highly. “Unusual” was the seventeenth most common adjective, but “noice” was only spoken once during the Department of Linguistics’ research process, when a first-year Cultural Studies student cited the term in a presentation on the relevance of Sharon Strzelecki to contemporary Australian society.