"Teaching works best when the activity engages and inspires students."

Dominic Furniss, UCL Interaction Centre

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Five key areas of 'good' teaching

When Professor Carmel McNaught first began working at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) in 2002, she was tasked with proving that Western active learning was relevant in the context of a Chinese university. She decided to investigate how the best teachers at CUHK operated and how their beliefs about teaching and learning were translated into action. Based on 18 interviews, McNaught and her colleagues identified 17 principles which could be clustered into five main areas:

Planning teaching and courses

1. Planning for teaching includes articulating expected learning outcomes, selecting learning activities and seeking feedback for evaluation from students, as well as determining content.

2. When planning courses it is necessary to anticipate the needs of the students.

3. Teachers should make a detailed plan of each lesson, including learning activities, but then be prepared to flexibly adapt the plan in the light of students’ responses.

What is taught

4. Teachers should concentrate on teaching key concepts, rather than detail, and make the fundamental points explicit.

5. Teachers should select content which students can perceive as relevant and show how it is relevant.

6. What is taught should take into account students’ need to develop the ability to learn for themselves. Self-managed learning ability can be nurtured through student-centred approaches to teaching.

7. Exposing students to conflicting theories helps develop more sophisticated beliefs about knowledge, and this facilitates the development of important graduate capabilities.

How it is taught

8. Good teachers develop a relationship with their students by getting to know them as individuals.

9. A vital constituent of excellent teaching is interaction in class between the teachers and their students, and the promotion of discussion among students.

10. Excellent teachers use a variety of teaching methods appropriate to the desired learning outcomes.

11. Exemplary teachers use a variety of methods of assessment which are valid tests of the planned learning outcomes. These assessment strategies are also consistent with encouraging the development of these outcomes.

Motivating students

12. Excellent teachers accept that they have a responsibility to motivate their students.

13. Good teachers have high expectations of students.

14. Strategies for motivating students include: the teacher displaying enthusiasm; employing a variety of active learning approaches; making classes enjoyable; using relevant and interesting material; and praising students when high expectations are met.

Development as a teacher

15. Good teaching can be developed through learning from past teachers; exchanging ideas with colleagues; and attending workshops about teaching.

16. To improve teaching it is necessary to gather feedback, reflect upon it and then act on the reflections.

17. The tension between teaching and research can be handled by recognising the importance of teaching, and seeking synergies between teaching and research.

Page last modified on 08 dec 11 11:04


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