Friday, 20 October 2017

Ten Top Teaching Characteristics

Dr Maryellen Weimer edits the Faculty Focus newsletter, published by Magna Publications. I have been following this for some years now, as it focuses on teaching AND learning practice.

In a recent edition, Maryellen condensed eight key teaching characteristics for good teaching from a range of research done in the field. These are things which repeated studies show made a real difference in the classroom: whether in the flesh or virtual. Some I agree with (Weimer, 16 August 2017):
  • Responsive: "has compassion, is helpful, sincere, friendly, and sensitive to student needs"
  • Clear: "presents content in ways that students can understand, answers questions, has clear course objectives"
  • Relevant: "uses examples, explanations, and exercises that make the course content relevant to students’ careers and personal goals" (though I would reword this to "Applied")
  • Competent: "is a content expert, intelligent, and knows how to teach"
  • Trustworthy: "honest, genuine, and abides by ethical standards"
  • Caring: "cares about students, understands them, and has their best interests at heart"
  • Immediate: "nonverbal behaviors are expressive; the teacher smiles, nods, uses gestures, makes eye contact, and doesn’t speak in a monotone"
  • Discloses: "reveals an appropriate amount of personal information when it’s relevant to the topic"
And some I have reservations about (Weimer, 16 August 2017):
  • Humorous: "uses humor frequently".
    Humour can be dangerous. If we turn appropriate humour on ourselves, and help others laugh at our own mistakes, it can work. However, if we laugh at others it can go bad very quickly. 
  • Assertive: "a strong personality, independent, competitive, and forceful".
    I am doubtful about this one: I suspect this is a cultural element. US citizens appear engaged by extroversion, while people from other cultures find extroversion wearing. I have experienced many quiet teachers, who lead humbly, from within. Their personalities emerge slowly, like a developing print. I personally would replace this with collaboration. Partnership - learning together - is more important than assertiveness; to me, anyway.
What did your favourite teachers do? What's on your list?


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