Science said "Come to my classroom"

Last week, Prof. James Harland and the School of Science, invited some of the ADG staff and other academics to some open classrooms. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to get back into a classroom and connect with the everyday issues that affect academics as they go about their jobs. It was great to be back at the coal face and reflect on the challenge of inspiring students to learn. I’d like to offer some insights and great ideas I was lucky enough to witness in those sessions and share them with you all.
Some great teaching ideas from the School of Science

  1. Have a fun and engaging video or activity in the first 5 minutes to provide time for the stragglers to get into the lecture theatre and settle down
  2. Put aside 5-10 minutes in each lecture time to handle student queries and problems. Purposeful time set aside will assist in providing students with a sense of belonging and that you care about their problems.
  3. Frame new learning in a context that relates somehow to students’ lives.
  4. New and difficult concepts should be scaffolded to ensure students get it. Move on in small steps and build on the learning, moving from familiar to more abstract concepts.
  5. Don’t be afraid to use humour, it will break up the lecture time and students will come to know you as a person.
  6. After in-class presentations by students,  assign each speaker to a class group to check that all students understood the concepts. This can be captured on two sheets of butcher’s paper or in an online cloud document, with two key headings ‘Got it’ and ‘Still Fuzzy’. Students should take a moment or two on their own to brainstorm answers under these two headings then transfer their answers to the provided sheets. Time then should be allocated for the groups to work with each presenter on their ‘still fuzzy’ questions. Each presenter rotates the groups to clear up outstanding questions.
  7. Have  a ’Missed the mark’ sheet at the front, or a cloud document, for students to add any outstanding questions by the end of the session. These can be handled either at the start of the next class or in a short video response in Canvas.
  8. Invite guest speakers; students love it.
  9. Contextualise  service courses to the disciplines you are teaching in and provide lots of relevant examples and short problems to solve in class.
  10. Use GoSoapBox to field questions in class and get feedback from students as they are learning.
  11. Get feedback online from the previous week’s session and address the problems immediately in class. If students know problems will be addressed in the first 5-10 minutes they may come on time. It also means you clear up any misconceptions before moving forward.
  12. Tell stories. Lots of them. Make learning relate to real life. Watch the news, read the papers, what can you tie into your teaching?
  13. Every 20-30 minutes build in a practical activity for students to apply the theory. Over a half hour of listening they will be at saturation point so plan an activity, or have students recap through a mind mapping activity or by doing a short sharing of notes.
  14. Do a 3-2-1 activity at appropriate points in a lecture as you are finalising the lecture or the topic for students to recap learning e.g.

We would like to thank the School and in particular our Science Superstars, Prof. James Harland, Dr Samantha Grover, Prof. Ewan Blanch, and Dr. Jessica Danaher, for the invitation and inspire other Schools to take the initiative which is helpful for new academic staff to learn from more experienced staff. Bravi!