Credibility and Consulting – Donna Ellis

My once-a-term posting isn’t as contentious as the title may suggest. Yes, it’s about credibility and consulting, but it’s not about “credible consulting”. Rather, the focus is on identifying facets of teachers’ credibility that can help when doing teaching consultations. Having taught public speaking for many years, I’m aware of the power of speaker credibility. If your audience members do not see you as a credible source of information or if you struggle to communicate clearly, they are less likely to be attentive. How might this translate into the teaching context?

Dr. Arletta Bauman Knight, formerly at the University of Oklahoma’s teaching center, developed a model of “teacher credibility” with input from small group consultations with faculty members who wanted to improve their teaching. She based her model on previous writings from the fields of communication and leadership, and labeled the three key components of teacher credibility as: competence, trustworthiness, and dynamism. Teachers who are seen as being competent can explain material well, can answer student questions, and have good classroom management skills. Trustworthiness stems from actions such as giving immediate feedback, providing rational explanations for grading, and not embarrassing students. And dynamic teachers are seen as using various teaching methods, adding their own personality to their classes, and relating positively to students.

The research basis for the model could be more rigorous and more characteristics of credible teachers need to be included, such as ones that help demonstrate a positive attitude towards teaching. However, the model still has merit. It provides a good starting point that can help those doing teaching consultations. Putting the focus on demonstrable teaching behaviours provides a reasonably concrete foundation from which to engage in further explorations or possible changes. When helping someone with their teaching practices, it can sometimes feel like you’re trying to complete a puzzle without knowing if you have all the pieces. A model like Knight’s can provide a framework for doing a thorough analysis and creating as complete a picture as possible.

It’s not just CTE teaching consultants who can use this model, though. Individual teachers can use it when analyzing the open-ended comments on their course evaluations. Or departmental or faculty-wide teaching mentors can also use such a model. At recent meetings with Department Chairs and Faculty Deans, I have been advocating for more such faculty teaching mentors across campus. We can build an even stronger teaching community with more resources and support.

So take a few moments and reflect on your own teaching. How credible are you? Can you find any missing pieces that can help clarify the picture of who you are, or want to be, as a teacher? Let me know if you want to explore this one further.

Teaching Excellence Academy 2009 – Trevor Holmes

This year marks the fifth time the Teaching Excellence Academy (TEA) has run at the University of Waterloo. Fifteen faculty members at a variety of career stages were nominated to attend this four-day course redesign workshop, culminating in an event to which their Chairs, Directors and Deans are invited to see the results, displayed as posters showing “before and after” course outlines. Continue reading Teaching Excellence Academy 2009 – Trevor Holmes

CRAM the right way: How to improve student learning practices – Sara Ashpole

506769516_aece6182df_mImagine one of your students comes to your office door. It’s just before their midterm examination, and full of anxiety the student claims to have studied the wrong material.  As the instructor do we have any responsibility in this situation?  I believe as instructors, one of our responsibilities is to teach in a manner that promotes  effective learning practices that will support a student in a cram scenario.  As such, the instructor provides students with all the necessary tools to facilitate higher academic achievement. Continue reading CRAM the right way: How to improve student learning practices – Sara Ashpole

From Practice…to Research…to Practice – Sally Heath

Struggling to find a topic for my blog entry today, I decided that I’d write about my how teaching practice has informed my research, which has, in turn, re-informed my practice! Last winter, CTE colleague Sheila Hannon and I conducted a survey of all UW students who had taken an English course through Distance Education within the past year. Our motivation for undertaking this research stemmed from our own experiences co-ordinating Distance Education courses within our department. The goal of our survey was to determine whether students were satisfied with their distance learning experiences in the areas of interaction and assessment. Continue reading From Practice…to Research…to Practice – Sally Heath

Spring Forward: Circadian and Cognitive Shifts – Nicola Simmons

The spring clock change. For me, it’s a time of shifts and re-framing, some of it good, like stargazing for another few weeks on my early morning walk, and some of it challenging, like waking up an almost 14 year old daughter who’s sure it’s not time yet. There’s no question that it also disrupts our patterns – sleep patterns and cognitive patterns (Kamstra, Kramer, & Levi, 2000; Kuhn, 2001)(if you don’t have a teenager you may have noticed these changes in your colleagues or yourself!). Continue reading Spring Forward: Circadian and Cognitive Shifts – Nicola Simmons

“If you keep your mind open, stuff will fall in” — Mark Morton

“If you keep your mind open stuff will fall in” — that excellent adage is the invention of Tommy Hunkeler, a grade-six student  at Elizabeth Ziegler Public School in Waterloo. Tommy, along with more than a hundred other people (ranging from elementary school students, to undergraduates, to university faculty members), participated in a contest that was part of the 2009 Loving to Learn DayContinue reading “If you keep your mind open, stuff will fall in” — Mark Morton

The Imposter Phenomenon in Academia – Sally Heath

“I am nothing but an impostor and a fake. I don’t deserve my success; I haven’t really earned it. I’ve been fooling other people into thinking I am a lot smarter and more talented than I really am.”

Does the above quotation sound familiar to you? Have you ever felt that your academic success was undeserved, or the result of luck? In the spring of 2008, I facilitated a workshop called The Imposter Phenomenon in Academia. The Imposter Phenomenon (IP) is a term coined in the 1970s by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes to describe a psychological pattern associated with fears and fraudulence and undeserved success. Common experiences associated with the Imposter Phenomenon include feelings of phoniness and self-doubt, the fear of being “unmasked,” a fear of making mistakes, and difficulty in taking credit for one’s accomplishments. Continue reading The Imposter Phenomenon in Academia – Sally Heath