Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Teaching in Higher Education: A beginners guide

It can be daunting starting off as a new lecturer in HE, there is so much to know and plan before you get near a classroom.
The key starting point for all lecturers  is...

  • Initially manage your expectations, don't be overly ambitious. you probably wont cover everything you plan to but that's ok. 
  • You need to factor in time to explain concepts that might be obvious to you but students may have little knowledge of.
  • Make sure you clarify new topics at the beginning and end of class 
  • Remember what it was like to be a student.
  • Reflect on how each class went and do a written self analysis at the end of each module to investigate what went well and what didn't.
  • Take student evaluations seriously, but don't worry about every negative comment, (everyone gets some) just work on the constructive ones, the ones you can do something about.
  • Seek advice from mentors in your department and/or join a learning and teaching research group (like the PRF)
  • Be prepared to work long hours until you have all your planning and materials down, after that you can just work on updating and improving material for future courses not starting from scratch each time.
  • Read pedagogy blogs and articles. It will help filter to useful information from the mass of the internet.
  • Try to stick to a schedule as much as you can, focusing on one task at a time. 
  • Try to use educational technologies to make class more interactive and easier on you. Speak to your learning development unit, or learning technologists.
  • Find your own teaching style and what works for you.
  • Find staff development courses/ workshops to top up any skills you might need. Most of which will be provided in your institution. Speak to your Teaching and Learning Development Unit or HR. Universities in the UK are in the process of making teaching qualifications mandatory in HE.  (Teaching Toolkit and PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education) 
Not all these points will be applicable to you but some might be invaluable.
There are numerous books and journal articles around improving your teaching and the student experience, but the best thing to do is get recommendations from knowledgeable staff members and from your teaching research group, based on the issues that are affecting you.

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