The physical layout of the classroom plays an important part in learner engagement. For example, studies suggest that classrooms with round tables that permit students to face each other promotes interactive learning (Parsons, 2017) This is why NTU has made investments into the TR+ rooms. For more information on how to use the TR+ rooms, contact the Faculty Development Team
Suggestions to make lectures more productive
- Begin and end with the learning outcomes.
- If you are using powerpoint slides, ensure that they are well designed
- Link lectures to assessment.
- Use a microphone. Ensure that you can be heard.
- Get students to focus on you now and then by not keeping slides up for too long.
- Get students to do things in the lecture (for example, asking them questions, encouraging them to ask you questions, solving problems, hypothesising on possible causes of a certain phenomena, making decisions and so on.)
- Be mindful of information overload. It is often better for students to think deeply about a few important concepts.
- Break the monotony by adding some humour or some interesting anecdote.
- Keep in mind that the "What's In It For Me?" (WIIFM) question that is on any audience's mind.
- Keep to time. Start on time, end on time.
Source: Race (2009)
The learning environment, however, goes beyond the layout and facilities of the classroom. It also includes instructors' relationships with their students (Zpeke & Leach, 2010). While we have little or no control over the physical layout and facilities we do have much greater control over the learning climate of the classroom. The literature suggests that learners become more engaged within a supportive learning environment where instructors respect them and appreciate their responses. (Dallimore, Hertenstein & Platt, 2004; Mottet, Martin, and Myers, 2004)
10 tips to improve student-teacher relationships
- Get to know the students by name as quickly as possible.
- Get to know some personal things about each student.
- Conduct a values analysis discussion about some current event or topic.
- Provide positive comments when appropriate.
- Be positive and enthusiastic when teaching.
- Show students that you are not only interested in them but also that you care about them.
- Avoid the use of threats and punishment.
- Do not play favourites.
- Create a supportive classroom environment
- Create an environment where questions and answers-even wrong answers-are encouraged and valued.
Source: Marganett (1995)
Links on building positive relationships with your students
Boynton, M., & Boynton, C. (2005). The educator's guide to preventing and solving discipline problems. ASCD.
Dallimore, E. J., Hertenstein, J. H., & Platt, M. B. (2004). Classroom participation and discussion effectiveness: Student-generated strategies. Communication Education, 53(1). 103-115. doi: 10.1080/0363452032000135805
Dotterer, A. M., & Lowe, K. (2011). Classroom context, school engagement, and academic achievement in early adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40(12). 1649-1660.
Mottet, T. P., Martin, M. M., & Myers, S. A. (2004). Relationships among perceived instructor verbal approach and avoidance relational strategies and students' motives for communicating with their instructor. Communication Education, 53(1). 116-122. doi: 10.1080/0363452032000135814
Parsons, C. S. (2017). Reforming the Environment: The Influence of the Roundtable Classroom Design on Interactive Learning. Journal of Learning Spaces, 6(3). Available at: http://libjournal.uncg.edu/jls/article/view/1516 Accessed on 28 Feb 2018.
Race, P. (2009) In at the Deep End (2nd revised edition 2009). Leeds Met Press.
Zepke, N., & Leach, L. (2010). Beyond hard outcomes: 'Soft' outcomes and engagement as student success. Teaching in Higher Education, 15(6). 661-673.