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Small Group Teaching in Higher Education


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Advice for new university lecturers on teaching in seminars, from an event run by the Economics Network of the Higher Education Academy

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Small Group Teaching in Higher Education

  1. 1. Seminar and Small Group Teaching
  2. 2. How does the role of the seminar leader differ from that of a lecturer? <ul><li>More interactive </li></ul><ul><li>Important to get to know students quickly </li></ul><ul><li>Recognising and responding to students with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities; need to be flexible – re-arranging groups? </li></ul><ul><li>Making expectations clear </li></ul>
  3. 3. Who are your students? <ul><li>Different backgrounds and goals </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in international students </li></ul><ul><li>Fees - students as customers </li></ul><ul><li>Reluctance – quantitative subjects </li></ul>
  4. 4. Passive vs. Interactive Teaching <ul><li>Passive teaching : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Boredom…deadly silence! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor attendance, lack of preparation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of student participation weakens understanding of material </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interactive teaching: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students less likely to become discouraged/bored </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deeper understanding </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Transferable Skills <ul><li>Interactive classes can improve: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Confidence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ability </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Performance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Employment prospects </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Planning your classes <ul><li>Make classes independent events </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Aims and objectives </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Structure </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Purpose </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Introduce interactive techniques that take account of: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Varied student abilities and learning styles </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Encourage participation </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Transferable skills </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. Class Teaching <ul><li>Teaching style: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clarity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction and Motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Introducing activities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Teaching challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Some pointers for a successful class </li></ul>
  8. 8. 1(a) Provide Structure <ul><li>Give an overview </li></ul><ul><li>Outline the key questions/issues </li></ul><ul><li>Work through the material – why is it interesting? </li></ul><ul><li>Identify important references/links to lectures </li></ul><ul><li>Summarise key arguments and conclusions at the end of the class </li></ul>
  9. 9. 1(b) Clarity <ul><li>Lay out solutions clearly on board </li></ul><ul><li>Work step-by-step – outline methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Provide handouts for equation-intensive classes </li></ul><ul><li>Provide ‘discussion tree’ outlines </li></ul><ul><li>Anticipate problems and questions </li></ul><ul><li>Resolve confusion if the discussion takes wrong turn </li></ul>
  10. 10. 1(c) Interaction <ul><li>Learn students’ names! </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage participation </li></ul><ul><li>Face the class, pick up ‘signals’ -adjust the pace and content to meet students’ needs </li></ul><ul><li>Link theory to real-world events to generate interest </li></ul><ul><li>Friendly but in control </li></ul>
  11. 11. 1(d) Class Activities <ul><li>Individual </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Problems/case studies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pairs/small groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Activities/discussion/student teaching </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Whole group </li></ul><ul><ul><li>debate/presentation/review </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. 2. Challenges <ul><li>Quiet classes… </li></ul><ul><li>…and rowdy classes </li></ul><ul><li>Students with poor attendance or effort </li></ul><ul><li>Classes with students with diverse backgrounds </li></ul><ul><li>Students with disabilities e.g. dyslexia </li></ul>
  13. 13. Top Tips for Exercises <ul><li>Keep notation consistent and explain it </li></ul><ul><li>Make steps in the reasoning explicit </li></ul><ul><li>Use questions to guide students through the reasoning </li></ul><ul><li>Provide intuition – plan examples </li></ul><ul><li>Identify possible pitfalls or cases </li></ul><ul><li>Give students ‘ the bigger picture’ </li></ul>
  14. 14. Top Tips for Motivation <ul><li>Learn students’ names early on </li></ul><ul><li>Take an interest in students’ goals, problems etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Take time to offer feedback and keep an eye out for problems </li></ul><ul><li>Be approachable and contactable </li></ul>
  15. 15. Always… <ul><li>Introduce yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Plan ahead but stay flexible </li></ul><ul><li>Contextualise and structure material </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage participation </li></ul><ul><li>Make the most of your experience and enjoy it! </li></ul>
  16. 16. Never… <ul><li>Skip parts of explanations </li></ul><ul><li>Rush (but keep an eye on the clock) </li></ul><ul><li>Ignore problems </li></ul><ul><li>Hide errors </li></ul><ul><li>Follow do’s and don’ts lists ... look for what works for you! </li></ul>
  17. 17. Thank you