The Art of Teaching

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<ul><li><p>IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, VOL. E-13, NO. 4, NOVEMBER 1970</p><p>The Art of Teaching</p><p>ANTHONY B. GIORDANO, FELLOW, IEEE</p><p>Abstract-Effective teaching for effective learning is of basicconcern to everyone involved in the process of teaching. Yet, areminder is often necessary to focus attention upon objectivesand techniques to achieve such effectiveness.Points of views are presented to stimulate concern with the</p><p>teaching function. These views are attempts to summarize a vastbody of literature generated by individual efforts and groupefforts. In this regard, special mention should be made of theinitiatives being exerted by the American Society for EngineeringEducation through its regional Workshops on Effective Teach-ing to promote awareness, an initiative which began in 1960 as aSummer Institute.</p><p>INTRODUCTIONC ICERO, about twenty centuries ago, stated-"Not</p><p>only is there an art in knowing a thing, but also acertain art in teaching it"-and we are still uncer-</p><p>tain about that "certain art of teaching."Curiously, little time has been spent in academic circles</p><p>discussing the techniques and refinements of that art oreven defining it satisfactorily-although it is well recog-nized that the prime responsibility of every college profes-sor should be to motivate effective learning in the class-room and in the laboratory.</p><p>Ideally, the college professor should seek to establish apositive contact between each student and himself. Heshould apply a variety of techniques all aimed toward stim-ulating understanding and creative attitudes. He should bemindful at all times of the importance of motivation, rein-forcement, evaluation, and feedback in the process oflearning.</p><p>In former years college degrees were supposed, in somemiraculous manner, to qualify one for teaching. Now it isevident that knowledge of subject matter alone does notprovide complete qualifications. Very often a good scholarfinds himself unable to win and hold his students, to in-spire and challenge them. Indeed, the need for free discus-sion to motivate teaching effectiveness has been long ne-glected.</p><p>College teachers seem to be involved in a very strangeprofession. It might be called the "hidden profession" be-cause it is practiced as a secret rite behind closed doors andnever alluded to in polite academic society. Why is it thatin any faculty gathering you will frequently hear a groupof experts arguing about their subject, but almost neverabout the best way of teaching it?</p><p>It is really strange that there are professors who neverbother to study teaching as a skilled process and very often</p><p>Manuscript received June 17, 1970.The author is with Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, Brooklyn,</p><p>N.Y.</p><p>oppose programs for achieving good teaching, the assump-tion being that effective teaching cannot be taught. Such aninsidious attitude is difficult to understand. The quality ofteaching as a whole would certainly improve if members ofthe academic teaching profession took a more direct atti-tude toward their teaching, and if they discussed the artand its techniques freely, and if they invited others to criti-cize their own work.As we attempt to answer the question-"How Effective</p><p>am I as a Teacher ?"-we soon learn that effectiveness var-ies from year to year and from class to class. This factgives urgent rise to the need for reinterpretation, reevalua-tion, reexamination, and reconstruction of content andprocedure. It is this urge for intense absorption towardbetter performance that keeps the good teacher alert andalive.Each one of us has experienced the stimulation that</p><p>comes with challenging instruction. But to analyze the situ-ation and extract those qualities that made it memorable isindeed difficult. In essence, there is no one way to teachand no one way to learn. The proper method depends onthe character of the teacher, the class, and the subject, andeach teacher must find out with reference to each class, andeach subject, and indeed each part of the subject, what isfor him his best method.</p><p>THE TEACHER SPEAKSBasic to teaching is speaking. Your ideas are transmitted</p><p>as words with your voice. Through your voice, you alsoindicate whether you are bored, tired, irritated, impatient,and indifferent. This is particularly true when you are un-der stress. At that moment, you may unwittingly convey aspirit of anger, dislike, or irritation with your voice, farfrom the impression you intended. However, students donot ask for reasons or motives. They interpret the commu-nication as it takes place at the moment, reflecting the neg-ative attitude toward the subject or toward them. On theother hand, a warm, confident, friendly, pleasant voicearouses a positive response.</p><p>If you talk too slowly, the student, who can listen muchfaster than you utter your words, becomes bored or dis-tracted and his mind wanders. On the other hand, if youtalk too rapidly, you are likely to slur your words so thatthe student is unable to understand them. Ordinarily, oneshould speak approximately 140 to 160 words a minute.</p><p>If you are talking to classes of 40 or more students, youshoul(d use a microphone. It is easier for everyone to hearyou, takes less effort on your part, and allows you to bemore conversational and get greater variety in your speech.A lavaliere microphone is best for this purpose.</p><p>196</p></li><li><p>GIORDANO: ART OF TEACHING</p><p>In speaking, you can move as much as you wish as longas you do not move the same way all the time. You canmove from side to side of the room. You can lean against atable or lectern. You can sit on the table, as long as you donot sit there all the time. A general rule, however, is tomove if there is a change in content.Use your hands to show size, shape, direction, or capac-</p><p>ity. There is no pattern, plan, or rule for gesturing. Gener-ally, you cannot gesture too much. But use your hands in aspontaneous manner, not jerky, nervous movements thatmean nothing and distract from your effectiveness. Thisshould be almost an unconscious gesture, not taught, notplanned, not learned but a reflection of what you are say-ing.Nobody likes a sphinx. Even though the material you</p><p>are talking about is objective and not of an emotional na-ture, you are still talking to human beings who have feel-ings and likes or dislikes. So, smile'! Show enthusiasm andfriendliness. Smile, frown, or even sneer at the material ifthe content lends itself to it. Laugh once in a while. Goodteachers are much more inclined to smile appreciativelythan poor teachers.To summarize, effective teachers speak in a logical and</p><p>well-organized manner rather than a rambling or disorga-nized one. They clearly indicate the central points and ade-quately support them with illustrations and examples.They use language the student can understand. The effec-tive teachers' deliveries are direct, confident, lively,friendly, and conversational and are accompanied by ap-propriate actions of the body, arms, and head and yet freefrom distracting movements.</p><p>THE LECTURE AS A METHOD OF TEACHINGCollege teaching and lecturing have been associated with</p><p>each other so long that when one pictures a professor in aclassroom almost inevitably the picture is one of a lecturer.Small wonder, though, because so few college teachers re-ceive any orientation or training in teaching methods. Con-sequently, they very likely resort to copying what theyhave observed most of their lives as students, namely thelecture. This method might be termed a comfortable onefor most instructors because it is familiar to them and alsobecause it provides for careful planning in advance, forcontrol over almost every class session, and for a minimumchance of being put on the spot.The ability to lecture well is a skill which many can de-</p><p>velop if they are convinced of its validity. As already men-tioned, it involves such matters as skill in voice control,modulation, enunciation, projection posture, and gesturing,all of which come unider the heading of skill in delivery. Inaddition, it involves techniques of gaining and holding at-tention; of stimulating and inspiring; of informing, con-vincing, and prodding to action; of commanding participa-tion in the process of stimulating thought by challengingcreative applications and by making the class session andthe course and meaningful and rewarding experience for astudent.</p><p>In preparing a lecture session, the following prescriptionis recommended:</p><p>1) Before assembling for class: a) be aware of the natureof human needs and motive, b) determine the purpose of thelecture, c) be prepared with a lesson plan.</p><p>2) In class: a) indicate what you expect to accomplish, b)make your presentation, c) hold attention, d) maintainflexibility and spontaneity, e) ask questions, f) summarizeyour conclusions.</p><p>In lecturing, the teacher should wear the cloak of humil-ity if he hopes to establish rapport and to communicatewith his students. Any superiority that he may actuallyhave should be manifestedl in the content of his lecture, notin his personal attitudes.</p><p>In asking questions, he will compliment wherever andwhenever he can. He will temper necessary criticism withpatience and understanding. He will never ridicule. Hewill respect even the less well-endowed student as an indi-vidual, knowing that his lack of intellectual capacity is nofault of his own. The wise instructor will recognize that itis often the need for a sense of personal worth that makesthe student make audacious statements, draw prematureconclusions with an absoluteness that is sometimes admira-ble, and be more intent on winning an argument than ondiscovering a fact.Use questions to stimulate interest, encourage student</p><p>participation, clarify understanding, spot-check the effec-tiveness of your lecture, and maintain attention. Your pur-pose is to stimulate the student's thinking rather than totest his knowledge. Force yourself to concentrate on everystudent in your classroom. Think about their reactions,watch for sleepiness, lack of attention, boredom or bewil-derment.</p><p>Students are critical of instructors who read long tractsor entire lectures, or who refer to their notes too long.Some authorities maintain that one should never refer tonotes. They say that the use of notes creates a barrier incommunication because the lecturer's attention is focusedon the material in front of him rather than on thestudents; that it encourages inadequate preparation, be-cause notes take the place of practice; and that it restrictshim in the use of visual aids because he must either stayglued to his notes or wave them before the class with onehand while trying to handle chalk, signs, or a projectorwith his other hand. Necessary notes underlining key ideasshould be on inconspicuous cards.One self-evaluating tool for the instructor is a simple</p><p>checklist to ascertain if the lecture plan is adequate for thepurposes desired. One could easily argue that teaching isnot simply a mechanical process and overemphasis on plan-ning might remove the vitality of teaching and the personalrapport between student and teacher. However, a checklistcan, at least, give the instructor guidelines toward individ-ual lecture preparation.The following list is representative of the kind of checks</p><p>the teacher might use in lecture planning. It is neither ex-haustive nor applicable to all types of lectures. These ques-</p><p>197</p></li><li><p>IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON EDUCATION, NOVEMBER 1970</p><p>tions can be answered only by the instructor planning thelecture and will be of use to him only if he takes a personalinterest in lecture planning.</p><p>1) Does this lecture fit in with the general objectivesof the course?</p><p>2) Can you state the objective of the lecture to the stu-dent and show at the conclusion of the lecture howthe material presented points toward this objective?</p><p>3) What do you want the student to learn from thelecture ?</p><p>4) Does this lecture have an introduction which ties itinto previous lectures ?</p><p>5) Can you motivate the students by giving them apreview of this lecture during the introduction andshow why it is worthwhile to learn the material ?</p><p>6) Is the alloted time sufficient to get your materialacross?</p><p>7) Is the development of the lecture adequate for thestate of training of the students ?</p><p>8) Have you built slack into the lecture in case thestudents have difficulty in following you?</p><p>9) Have you allowed time for questions from the stu-dents, time to sum up, and time to make assign-ments ?</p><p>10) Are all the visual aids and other teaching aid equip-ment ready ?</p><p>11) Does the lecture have a logical progression-fromthe known to the unknown, from the simple to thecomplex?</p><p>12) Ts it possible to vary the teaching method and thekind of learning required of the student (assimila-tion, generalization, critical evaluation, etc.) for thematerial presented ?</p><p>13) Do you have an "attention getting" interest arouser-analogy, example, or demonstration to pick upthe class during a lull which might arise?</p><p>14) Do you have an idea of what blackboard sketchesand illustrations you will use (if appropriate) ?</p><p>15) Do you have all the facts you need for the lecture-reference material, etc. ?</p><p>16) Do you have notes on specific facts, mathematicalprocedures, etc. in case your memory should sud-denly fail you?</p><p>17) Have you arranged to hand out assignments, dis-tribute class material, and handle other mechanicalaspects of the lecture in such a way that it takes aminimum amount of valuable classroom time?</p><p>18) Can you review the material covered by a "newview" toward it instead of simply repeating thehighlights ?</p><p>19) Have you made arrangements to measure how wellyour material has gotten across-have questionsabout lecture content ?</p><p>20) Have you established the bridge to the next lectureor at least given the students a sneak preview?</p><p>21) Can you show how this lecture ties into the readingor problem assignments?</p><p>These considerations form the basis for evaluating theeffectiveness of instruction.</p><p>In most courses, there is a portion of the content whichlends itself to presentation through lecture; whereas otherparts might better be taught in discussion, demonstration,laboratory, or seminar sessions. A careful analysis, coupledwith experience, should provide guidelines in determininghow often lectures should be scheduled in a given course.</p><p>LEARNING BY DISCUSSIONProcedures of teaching by discussion have been widely</p><p>acclaimed in educational circles as most effective from thestandpoint of motivating active learning processes. Whilethe lecture method is very efficient in developing informa-tion about a subject, discussion techniques are seeminglysuperior when the object is to develop understanding in theimplications and applications of facts and principles.</p><p>In discussion techniques, since opportunity is providedfor a good deal of student participation, essential feedbackresults. Such techniques tend to develop a keenness for ex-tracting essential facts, formulating broad hypotheses, andevaluating conclusions. Although the process is ratherslow, results are gratifying because of the inherent stresson critical thinking.There ar...</p></li></ul>