Lunchtime Dialogue with Faculty Members on “How to Improve

II. Lunchtime Dialogue with Faculty Members on “How to Improve
Teaching Skills for the Best Results"
Dr. Angus D. Munro (Vice-President for Academic Affairs)
with inputs from Song Sophoat (Deputy Director, AFD)

On August 2, 2012, UC hosted a lunchtime session with Professor Marshall in Room 407 for full- and part-time faculty members on “How to Improve Teaching Skills for the Best Results”, chaired by Dr. Angus D. Munro, Vice-President for Academic Affairs.
After a brief overview of her ongoing work at Georgetown University and her research here in Cambodia, Professor Marshall shared some of her experiences and ideas on how to improve teaching skills for the best results. Her observations and insights were that the best teachers:
 Are organised at all levels, from planning courses down to individual classes as well as what needs to be done outside classroom hours
 Set clearly-defined learning objectives for the course as a whole and for each class
 Recognise that different students have different learning styles, and vary their teaching methods accordingly
 Are creative and introduce an element of novelty and ‘surprise’ into the classroom
 Give models of term papers and exam answers, so that students are clear about expectations and how they will be evaluated
 Check for understanding throughout the course and adapt teaching styles as and when necessary
 Rigorous about their ethics and expectations of students
 Bring personal experience and insights to the material being covered, and act as inspiring mentors
 Are aware of the technological revolution and different students’ aptitudes.
More generally, what people remember is based on:
 70% from body language; and
 23% from facial expression.
Thus presentation is very important: what is actually said contributes only the remaining 7% (Ed: presumably the study was one in an experiment where notes were not being taken by the respondents?).
Regarding the design of courses and the presentation of material, there is the need to avoid overload through selective information presentation: there should be a maximum of 5-7 important points.
Students learn best by active engagement, with the analysis of relevant material. Thus:
students talking amongst themselves about what they have just 1. heard helps to reinforce what they should learn; and
learning by doing and gaining practical experience from relevant 2. case studies or, more broadly, case material where detailed studies are not available or not appropriate.

Arising out of this, she noted that it is good to encourage teamwork: there are many advantages of working in groups, provided that care is taken to ensure that the work done does not ‘decrease to the lowest common denominator’ (i.e. the weaker members of a team should not hold back the progress of the better ones).
 In the subsequent dialogue session, Ms. Gina Lopez (Associate Dean, College of Management) raised the point that Cambodian students not like work in groups: her solution is to make a contract in the first class with the students that there is the need to share and thus help motivate each other ; and that the teacher needs to facilitate groupwork through, for example, having buzz groups.
Professor Marshall noted the need to encourage time management by class-members, another increasingly important soft skill. Finally, she observed that, increasingly, there are complaints thatt what is being taught is not relevant. This is a problem of rapid progress and not knowing what will be needed by the time that students graduate: the response should be that students need to develop their creative right brains and also their learning-to-learn abilities, as further essential soft skills in today’s world of life-long learning.



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