What’s your best tip for keeping students engaged?
You must establish a human relationship with them between Week 0 and Week 2. Once students see you as a relatable person and that you genuinely care for their well-being, you can get away with any pedagogy.
They realise that they may not see the value of a certain task, but through the relationship you have built with them, they realise that you must see the task’s pedagogical value and thus they are willing to partake in the task to its fullest worth.
What’s your favourite technology or tool to use in teaching?
The visualiser! Economics has lots of graphs that students need to manipulate and use for predictions. However, the textbook presents a static graph, and technology can make the graph seem exactly that – technological. The visualiser allows you to use your human hand to draw the graph and the students can see it built step-by-step. The visualiser conveys the message: “hey, you can do this yourself too” and “hey, this is not just a fancy graph that you need technology to manipulate”. It conveys the message of economics in your hands, and thus it facilitates economics, literally into students’ hands.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about teaching?
The most common feedback from students and staff for a decade-plus is that I am very clear in my communication and that I can lead the students by example. While the following was not a conscious motivation to improve teaching: perhaps this has been sub-consciously been engrained in me by reading and viewing resources on leadership by John Maxwell, Rick Warren and Brian Houston. I may have implicitly taken on board their communication styles and expertise on leadership and motivation.
Please tell us a bit about what you’ll be presenting at Learning & Teaching Week.
I’ll be presenting research from my PhD which includes a paper on transforming the economics curriculum by integrating threshold concepts; I will also be presenting two nano presentations: on assessments for learning as opposed to assessments of learning, and on training your team to come on board a new curriculum. #mqecon111 – lets get it trending!
Prashan Karunaratne teaches in Macquarie University’s Department of Economics. Connect with Prashan at his Learning and Teaching Week presentations:
A Relevant Economics Curriculum for a Dynamic World – Moving from Content to Concepts
Monday 14 September, 11am-12.30pm
Assessment for Learning rather than Assessment of Learning in Economics
Your Own Academic Team – a Challenge when Transforming a Syllabus around Threshold Concepts
Wednesday 16 September, 12.30pm-1.30pm