Peer Observation 4/6

Peer Pre-Observation Form

For my peer observation I chose to observe Dhang Zalu teach a session on the fixed rate exchange system to 43 learners. In my action plan put together at the start of the module I aimed to research methods for delivering theory based lectures to large numbers so I thought observing this session might provide me with some focus in this area (UKPSF A5). Dhang wanted me to concentrate on his talking speed and clarity of explanations so I paid particular attention to these points. He spoke with confidence and a clear projection during his introduction, I was sitting at the back of a large classroom and could still hear his speech clearly. The students were talking amongst themselves prior to the start of the lecture but became instantly attentive as soon as Dhang began speaking in a commanding but not overbearing manor. This made me reflect upon how I use my voice when teaching, Exely & Dennick (2009, p.50) describe the importance of considering this aspect of our delivery:

“It remains our most valuable lecturing device and tutors need to learn how to look after their voice, project properly and consider how we choose to use it to best effect in the lecture. Too quiet, mumbled and poorly articulated, too fast, monotone – the common criticisms relating to voice use are easily recognizable.”

This the first year that I have taught large classes (40 +students), most of my teaching up to this point has been in small groups where my talking style is more conversational and informal. When I think about how I use my voice in lectures it’s possible that I have been using an inappropriate style of delivery based on my small group teaching as Gibbs, S.Habeshaw & T.Habeshaw (1992, p.53) explain:

“The informal lecture, with its impromptu explanations and humorous asides delivered in an intimate tone, is wasted on a large audience. Students at the back of the room are not able to assimilate – or perhaps even hear – what is being said. As classes increase in size, so lectures need to be modified. They need to be structured more thoroughly, scripted more carefully and delivered more formally.”

The use of voice will play a big part in adapting my approach for large lectures so I decided to undertake some research in this area, through this I became aware of how the following factors can have a negative impact on teaching: using a monotone and flat delivery that doesn’t hold attention, the volume and clarity of intonation dropping off, the failure to use emphasis and pauses to stress important points and reading from notes whilst looking away from the students (Exely and Dennick 2009). I audio recorded myself giving a lecture and discovered that some of these traits were evident in my own delivery, as a result of this I now practise how I intonate important passages of speech and try to be more conscious of how I’m using my voice during a lecture (UKPSF V3 & A5). It was noticeable that Dhang stood in front of the projector screen and didn’t use notes throughout the lecture, his body language was relaxed and exuded confidence. Sometimes I feel more anxious when giving large lectures and this is probably reflected in my movements. Knight (2002, p.114) points out why body language should be considered when delivering a lecture:

“Students are sensitive to the teacher’s enthusiasm, something that is carried by gesture, inflection, eye contact, posture and appearance, as well as by the words we speak. An implication is that if we wish to be rated as a good presenter, then we would do well to work on voice, posture and body language in general.”

I intend to video record some of my larger lectures so I can analyse my body movements and maybe start to approach my lectures as a performance in some regards. Commonly used methods by performers, such as Alexander Technique, may help improve my presentation skills as Knight (2002, p.113) states, “Alexander Technique, which is widely learned by actors, singers and other performers, attends to the bad habits we have developed in holding and moving our bodies” (UKPSF A5 & V3). The extra consideration I will afford to my presentation skills as a result of this observation will hopefully help me keep students more engaged in larger lectures.

 

 

References

Exley, K., & Dennick, R., (2009) Giving A Lecture. Oxon: Routledge

Gibbs, G., Habeshaw, S., & Habeshaw, T., (1992) 53 Problems with large classes. Bristol: Technical and Education Serives Ltd

Higher Education Academy. (2011). The UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supported learning in higher education. https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/downloads/ukpsf_2011_english.pdf

Knight, P.T. (2002). Being a Teacher in Higher Education. Buckingham: Open University Press

 

 

 

 

 

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