Posts Tagged ‘Managing contributions’

My colleague, Denise Megson, observed me delivering a ‘moving and handling’ theory session to a group of about 18 first years, who were also joined by 4 third years, who needed to attend an annual moving handling update.

http://media.storybird.com/embedplayer/bin/StoryplayerEmbed.swfBeing observed teaching Moving & Handling on Storybird

The feedback from Denise was generally positive and constructive – she said that I set the scene well, and used humour appropriately. I answered questions well and she liked the way I used the doughnuts. I used them as a teaching aid, partly to help me explain the make up of the intervertebral discs, and partly to support more experiential learning  for the students. If experiencing something ‘is a linking process between action and thought’ (Beard and Wilson 2002, p15) then my aim was for the group to see and taste the doughnuts, whilst also understanding the physiology and being able to apply knowledge of how a prolapsed disc happens, so that they can take adequate future measures to avoid it happening. (A1; A2; K2; K3)


Denise made some useful suggestions that I will definitely consider implementing when I next do the session – there were a few slides with lists of relevant legislation on them. She suggested doing a question and answer session in place of these slides. She also suggested doing a quiz when I cover the section on statistics – either a pre test or post test. Uutilising teaching methods such as these would have provided more variety within the classroom, essential for effective learning particularly in a group where you have a range of individuals with a range of preferred learning styles as noted by Moon (2010). Moon notes that ‘those experiencing variation learned better’ and that ‘those experiencing variation retained the material better’ (p28-29). As there is limited opportunity to emotionally connect with the material covered within a Moving & Handling session, retention of the facts is a desirable outcome. (K3; V1)

I had one student who rather dominated discussion, and was being a bit of a clown and Denise suggested I make more effort to encourage contributions form others in the group, for instance by saying  something like ‘thanks John, lets hear from someone else’. This is not an uncommon difficulty and Jaques and Salmon (2007) make a number of suggestions including the use of hand signals, body language and gestures; giving dominant students roles (such as note taking); bringing in other students (as Denise recommended); using activities that take away their audience; or introducing ground rules or a card system. (A4; V2)

I felt that being observed by a colleague was an invaluable experience. Denise is a very experienced educator, with many years of experience – in fact she taught me when I did the programme 15 years ago! Equally, I have colleagues who haven’t been teaching so long, but who are passionate, creative and committed, so I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other. Fullerton ( 2000) notes that ‘peer observation’ of teaching within staff teams is becoming more prevalant within higher education. I have had informal discussions with my mentor and colleagues and all seem to agree that peer observation would be beneficial. We have a Team Development day in June, so I intend to put it on the agenda to discuss. One of the many benefits of peer observation is that it can contribute to quality assurance (REF), with a particular focus on teaching (k6).

Beard C and Wilson JP (2002) The Power of experiential learning: A handbook for trainers and educators Kogan Page; London.

Fullerton H (2000) Observation of teaching in Fry  H, Ketteridge S and Marshall S (2000) A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Enhancing academic practice (pp 220-234) Kogan Page; London.

Jacques D and Salmon G (2007) 4th edition Learning in groups: a handbook for face-to-face and online environments Routledge; Oxon.

Moon J (2010)A Handbook of reflective & experiential learning: theory and practiceRoutledgeFalmer; Oxon.


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In memory of an inspiring young doctor who mused about life & death through her terminal cancer illness. Her husband, Chris now keeps the page updated.


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