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1 Seminar and Small Group Teaching

2 How does the role of the seminar leader differ from that of a lecturer? More interactive Important to get to know students quickly Recognising and responding to students with a wide range of backgrounds and abilities; need to be flexible – re-arranging groups? Making expectations clear

3 What makes a bad seminar/class? Which aspects of small-group teaching worry you the most? Quiet students –Be patient? –Reiterate the question; rephrase it; break it down –Pick a card? –Discuss it with your neighbour and come up with an agreed answer –Use rewards not penalties –Reassure students that they should have a go, even if they get it wrong; that not everyone else understands –Use seminars to discover new things and not just to go through or test what they should know –Have some easy questions to get weaker students to contribute –Find out what their problems are: unpick problems How to get students to come prepared –Use of contracts –How seminars are perceived by students Dominant students –Allocate questions –Form small groups –Variety of activities can bring out different students –Give harder questions to dominant students? Poor attendance Avoid students coming to the front to write on the board –Poor presentation; bad for other students What works in one group may not work in another –Need to be flexible –Be up-front if things arent working Problems of group dynamics –But this is an important learning experience for students Time management; running out of time

4 Who are your students? Different backgrounds and goals Increase in international students Fees - students as customers Reluctance – quantitative subjects

5 Passive vs. Interactive Teaching Passive teaching : –Boredom…deadly silence! –Poor attendance, lack of preparation –Lack of student participation weakens understanding of material Interactive teaching: –Students less likely to become discouraged/bored –Deeper understanding

6 Transferable Skills Interactive classes can improve: –Confidence –Ability –Motivation –Performance –Employment prospects

7 Planning your classes Make classes independent events –Aims and objectives –Structure –Purpose Introduce interactive techniques that take account of: –Varied student abilities and learning styles –Encourage participation –Transferable skills

8 Class Teaching 1.Teaching style: a)Structure b)Clarity c)Interaction and Motivation d)Introducing activities 2.Teaching challenges 3.Some pointers for a successful class

9 1(a) Provide Structure Give an overview Outline the key questions/issues Work through the material – why is it interesting? Identify important references/links to lectures Summarise key arguments and conclusions at the end of the class

10 1(b) Clarity Lay out solutions clearly on board Work step-by-step – outline methodology Provide handouts for equation-intensive classes Provide discussion tree outlines Anticipate problems and questions Resolve confusion if the discussion takes wrong turn

11 1(c) Interaction Learn students names! Encourage participation Face the class, pick up signals -adjust the pace and content to meet students needs Link theory to real-world events to generate interest Friendly but in control

12 1(d) Class Activities Individual –Problems/case studies Pairs/small groups –Activities/discussion/student teaching Whole group –debate/presentation/review

13 2. Challenges Quiet classes… …and rowdy classes Students with poor attendance or effort Classes with students with diverse backgrounds Students with disabilities e.g. dyslexia

14 Top Tips for Exercises Keep notation consistent and explain it Make steps in the reasoning explicit Use questions to guide students through the reasoning Provide intuition – plan examples Identify possible pitfalls or cases Give students the bigger picture

15 Top Tips for Motivation Learn students names early on Take an interest in students goals, problems etc. Take time to offer feedback and keep an eye out for problems Be approachable and contactable

16 Always… Introduce yourself Plan ahead but stay flexible Contextualise and structure material Encourage participation Make the most of your experience and enjoy it!

17 Never… Skip parts of explanations Rush (but keep an eye on the clock) Ignore problems Hide errors Follow dos and donts lists... look for what works for you!

18 Thank you

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