2021 Best Undergraduate Professors: Stephanie M. Noble, The University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Haslam College of Business

Stephanie M. Noble

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville, Haslam College of Business

“Dr. Noble is one of the few professors in my academic path that really made a large university feel like a small school. I became involved in AMA because of the interest I truly developed in marketing during my studies and really became fascinated in marketing research during my studies in her class. It’s easy to be another student at a large school, but she takes an interest in her students and is a wonderful lecturer and teacher.” – Ashley Paul

Stephanie M. Noble, 50, is the Proffitt’s Professor of Marketing and William B. Stokely Faculty Research Fellow at The University of Tennessee – Knoxville, where she has worked since 2011. She currently teaches Marketing Research at the undergraduate level and Consumer Behavior Seminar at the doctoral level.

She earned her undergraduate and Master’s degrees from Arizona State University and her PhD from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

She is a prolific researcher with interests in customer experience management in retail and service industries. 

 “Dr. Noble is a globally renowned scholar in the fields of services, retailing and marketing. Her impressive publication record including articles in many highly ranked, top journals earned her a strong recognition in multiple sub-disciplines within the marketing field, which is not a very common accomplishment,” writes Sertan Kabadayi, Professor of Marketing at Fordham University. “Her papers are included in reading lists of many PhD programs around the world, and cited by many scholars from different disciplines.”

Her research has been cited more than 5,000 times. She is co-editor of the Journal of Service Research, the top-rated academic journal in the services field, and an associate editor of the Journal of Retailing and the Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science. She has won numerous Best Paper, Outstanding Paper and other research awards. 

In the classroom, she is described as a passionate educator who always takes the time to cultivate her students’ interests in both marketing and research. 

Dr. Noble was one of the most student-focused and engaging professors I had while at the University of Tennessee,” says student Allison Herring. “My favorite part of the class was the culminating project where we completed our own market research on a struggling company. While this project was daunting at first, Dr. Noble made understanding the statistical material easy as she used her own research as examples. To have had a teacher who was the first female marketing professor at UT and a highly accomplished professional in her field was truly an experience that influenced my passion for marketing and ultimate career choice.”


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when… I was assigned as a teaching assistant to a professor during my master’s program and taught a few classes for her. I did not know I wanted to be a business school professor until I started working in marketing research which allowed me to apply my psychology training in research/statistics to explore customer insights. I loved the applied nature of working with clients. This last point has not changed over the years – my favorite research projects, as a business professor, are the ones where my co-authors and I partner with clients (like the scanner project noted below).

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? Much of my research right now explores technology in retail and service settings and its impact on customer spending and store sales. In one recent paper published in the Journal of Marketing Research my co-authors and I find that consumers who use in-store hand-held scanners (vs. not) spend more money when they are on a budget. Despite hand-held scanners increasing the workload for consumers (which might make them buy less), consumers buy more. Scanner use changes bodily movements, which then inform decisions making. Specifically, we find (using eye-tracking data, field, and lab studies) that those using scanners fixate on and touch more products; they feel more in control and enjoy shopping more. The outcome is that consumers make more unplanned, healthier, and impulsive purchases when using hand-held scanners. Our results are a significant discovery for retailers contemplating whether to invest in hand-held scanners.

Article: “The Impact of Using Handheld Scanners on Shopping: Evidence from the Field” with Dhruv Grewal, Carl-Philip Ahlbom, and Jens Nordfält.

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be… I probably would still be working in marketing research or as some other type of researcher. I enjoy most topics in the natural sciences, with earth science being my favorite (e.g., tectonics, paleontology, astronomy) so I would probably be doing research in one of these areas.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? My caring nature. I’ve had several students tell me I’m their academic mom.

One word that describes my first-time teaching:  Overprepared (I probably had 8 hours of material ready for a 50-minute class!)

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor:  This profession is a marathon, not a sprint. I found that out myself over the years but that would have helped me navigate work/life balance issues better, and be less stressed, earlier in my career when I had 4 young children running around.


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? I love their entrepreneurial spirit. I have so many students who have started their own businesses during college, and I’m always so impressed given their age.

What is most challenging? Trying to motivate a student who is disengaged.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student:  Inquisitive 

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Apathetic

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as… Fair and encouraging


What are your hobbies?  I used to have hobbies and then I had 4 kids. Get back to me when I am an empty nester. I will try to remember what hobbies I liked then!

How will you spend your summer? Working on research projects, going on vacation with my family, and driving kids to and from sports when not on vacation.

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I do not usually like to visit the same place twice because there are so many wonderful places to see in this world, although I do find myself going to NYC at least once a year for a girl’s weekend with my older daughter. She loves going to Broadway shows as much as I do. Some places that I have been that I really loved (and would highly recommend to others) are Egypt, Alaska, Kenya, China, the DACH region in Europe (for places outside the U.S.), Mount Rushmore and Niagara Falls (for places in the U.S.)

Favorite book(s): “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. It is an old one, but it is still on my shelf, and I would recommend it to anyone (male or female).

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? The only show I watch with regularity is NOVA given my interest in the natural sciences. My youngest son likes to watch NOVA with me, which is a bonus. Other than that, my kids like HGTV so I will watch a random show here or there with them. 

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I do not have one type – my playlist is very eclectic. It ranges from pop music to disco to songs from musicals. I seem to listen to Dolly Parton when cooking/doing the dishes, so I guess that is a nod to living in TN. 


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this… Smaller classes for more 1-on-1 time with students

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at… Although the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee is great at promoting women and minorities and encouraging them to take on leadership positions, not all organizations have such a great track record and need to do a better job in this area.  

I’m grateful for… 

  1. My husband and kids. Life would not be as rewarding without them by my side.
  2. My friends (both academic and non-academic) who are supportive and encouraging and make work and life fun. 

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