In 2015, the government introduced the Teaching Excellence Framework to try and drive up the quality of teaching in higher education institutions.
The Higher Education Green Paper outlines several proposals, but at its core is the Teaching Excellence Framework. This, you could say, is like shorthand for: universities need to up their game because students are paying a lot more for their education and want to know what they’re getting for it. Basically, the government will be monitoring and assessing the quality of teaching in England’s universities.
As you can imagine there is a lot of controversy around this proposal and a lot of (well documented) resistance too. However, it is hugely important to plug the communication gap between academics and students, especially when the reputation of the institutions themselves are at stake.
Student forums, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram are just some of the platforms that have helped shift this landscape. These communication channels can instantly affect the reputation of many organisations and individuals.
There are three ways to approach the Teaching Excellence Framework.
Firstly, it’s important to look at Input, specifically at the content and delivery of teaching. Evaluating and improving this will enhance the wider academic experience of students.
Naturally, Output is the next thing to consider, there needs to be a demonstrable measure that a student has gained knowledge and improved on their skills during their studies.
Finally, a Peer Review should take place, as feedback and views of the quality of teaching.
Ultimately raising and enhancing learning and teaching is at the heart of the Teaching Excellence Framework. One way of directly affecting Input and Output is to improve lecture delivery and presentation. Understanding what you want to say and who you want to say it to, and the best way of doing it.
So, how can we improve academic delivery? Perhaps a training programme will help evaluate and challenge the mind-set of academics when performing and delivering lectures.
Improving delivery can be done with a variety of practical exercises, split in equal measure between theory and practicals
Improving lecture delivery
Performance and presentation when in a corporate environment can be quite a laborious task. A stream of suits pitching (often via PowerPoint) to an audience who may have more important things to do. Whereas, in a lecture hall the audience is mostly keen to learn and absorb the information presented – a captive audience (although it may not feel like it sometimes) – so half the battle is won.
If a student is in attendance, it’s the lecturer’s job to stimulate the mind, not only with content but more often than not with style and presence.
It’s important that lecturers are encouraged to think about their lectures and the way they deliver them. Improving delivery can be done with a variety of practical exercises, split in equal measure between theory and practicals.
What must be kept in the back of the mind throughout, is that the main point is to focus on the retention of information. Our ability to recall information after a short period of time is sketchy at best. Helping students to improve in this area is vital, as is performance and presentation.
So, academics should film, dissect, and analyse to improve their delivery style and think about how they present material. There is usually a plethora of delivery styles with academics, some calm and composed; some very animated; some extremely passionate, but all perfectly good ways of presenting.
The presenter needs to project, use intonation, use pace and poise for impact and employ many more tips and tricks to ensure that the audience consumes and mostly remembers the main points made in the lecture or seminar.
Teachers shouldn’t change their personality, but they should make the most of what they have and, most importantly, ensure that what they say resonates with any audiences and is remembered. It’s important that the purpose of lecture delivery training is not to cast every lecturer into the same mould, but to add to their repertoire of delivery methods. It can be an intense but ultimately rewarding for all involved.
To promote excellent teaching, the industry needs to openly engage positively and constructively with initiatives, such as improving presentations skills.
Sukhi Hayer is Head of Communications and Training at Broadcast Media Services