Posted in Education Help and Advice, Life as a Research Student, PhD Journey

What I Learnt from my Teaching Observation.

As part of my PhD I have to do a couple of hours teaching a week to students. Due to this, I had to undertake a short week long course as well as engaging in a number of assessments in order to gain the qualification. One of these assessments was to observe a lecturer and to write about the techniques they use and I wanted to share some of the things that I learnt from observing.

I’ll start off by saying that the lecture I observed was for Level 5 Psychology students and the lecture focused on individual differences in learning styles. The lecture itself was incredibly engaging, well-structured and prepared, which is why I particularly wanted to write about my experience.
1. Recap on previous week.
I noticed that the lecturer not only recapped what had been learned in the previous week, but he also related his content to both previous and future lectures so that students’ were able to grasp where they were within the course and how it all fits together. I have not long finished my undergraduate degree myself, and I think that this is particularly important because it helps to stop the feeling of “what is the point of this” or “am I even going to need this information”. If the student is constantly reminded as to why the content is being taught and how it all fits in, then it also helps with engagement as they will realise that the information that is being given to them is important.
2. If you can give the lecture/lesson without students being there; you’re doing it wrong.
This sentence itself is something which was said whilst I was doing the teaching course and it is one that has completely stuck in my mind and which I will definitely try to follow. I definitely saw this within my teaching observation. The lecturer constantly asked questions to the students’ to keep them involved and to guide the content of the lecture. This can also be done by giving the students’ an activity such as discussing a topic in groups or in pairs.
3. Humour = engagement.
This is something which some people are going to be scared of, it’s almost like performing. But, if you can, putting humour into your lessons can really help with engagement. I found that the lecturer I watched would often crack little jokes, some so bad it made people tut and some that actually did make people giggle. It’s worth giving it a go, it also makes you more likeable and approachable meaning that students are more likely to answer your questions!
4. Use real life examples.
This applies especially to more difficult/boring topics. I found that the lecturer would often use small little anecdotes and stories to bring the teaching to life. Not only will it help students to understand the topic, but it also means that they are more likely to remember it if you are able to put it into context.
5. Don’t just read off the slides.
This is something I learnt myself from being a student and hating it, but was reinforced by the teaching observation. If you are literally just reading off the slides, then what is the point in the students being there when they could simply read the slides themselves? In my observation, the lecturer would more use the slides as visual aid rather than for what he would say. This is why you need to be prepped for a lecture and ready to teach the subject.

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