Some teaching tips from University of Virginia

I came across a website that has a lot of teaching tips for the university. I’m hoping that I could put into practice what I’ve learned.

* Instructors should break down lessons into manageable chunks, and couple each lesson with practical application.
* Students appreciate it when instructors relate their own experiences, through anecdotes. It provides both real world examples and personal touch that students find appealing.
* Students would exert effort for the course if they perceive that effort spent on preparation yields a corresponding payoff in the final grade.
* To keep students thinking, begin the course or the lecture with questions that will help you understand what they are thinking.
* To introduce new topics and find out students’ assumptions, ask them to jot down their answers on their own and combine answers later in a small group.
* When a student asks a question, instead of answering it yourself, ask for an answer from other members of the class.
* Ask questions throughout the class, to motivate students to participate.
* Allow time for questions at the end of the lecture.
* Do a one-minute paper at the end of the class. Students can write down what they consider the (a) main point of the class and (b) questions that need clarification.
* One surprising insight: ask questions to which I don’t have an answer. Questions without direct answers come in 3 varieties: a) those that have no answer b) those that have debatable answers c) those that I don’t know yet have an answer

I want to quote this from an article on “Some Answers About Questions”:

Now the teacher becomes a moderator, not a fountain of wisdom, and this demands a whole new set of teaching skills: listening, summarizing, clarifying (only when necessary), and making connections. The teacher listens, and redirects the conversation by summarizing. Not easy, moderating requires a solid knowledge of the subject, perceptive listening skills, tact, diplomacy, and leadership.

A couple of related tips:

* Be willing to admit error – it makes it easier for students to do so.
* Try to help the student feel more and more confident as time goes on – never judge a student’s idea as stupid, even when it proves undefendable. Show interest in each student’s contribution, and be interested.
* Keep thinking about the education process.

I have a long way to go to being the most effective “professor” I wish I can be.

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