The Faculty of Business and Economics recently hosted a workshop for casual teaching staff on how to make your teaching R.E.A.L.
Facilitated by Economics lecturer and Teche Insights guest, Prashan Karunaratne, the purpose of the workshop was to provide a space where academics could share their teaching experience and develop a sense of belonging, whilst also providing some take home tools for creating an inspiring educational environment.
“Learning and teaching is a two-way street between the learner and a teacher; [it] is a conversation that utilises different learning styles… One great way to enhance your conversation skills is to be on both sides of these workshops – you as a teacher, but also, you as a learner,” said Karunaratne on the workshop.
Prashan’s version of R.E.A.L reflects his personal approach to teaching, initially developed as a structure to help learners, but it has since grown into a model to help teachers.
R.E.A.L refers to:
R – Relatable as a person
E – Enthusiastic about the discipline
A – Aware of the students
L – Life with them (Tutorial is life, right)
R.E.A.L. also refers to a framework Karunaratne created as an adaptation of Bloom’s taxonomy. Here, R.E.A.L. gives both students & teachers a systematic framework to learn & teach a unit’s content. You begin with “R” and journey all the way to “L”:
R – Re-cap & Remind
E – Everyday Examples to Engage
A – Application & Awareness
L – Learning Life Lessons
While all lecturers and tutors have their own teaching preference and style, a personal sense of what works and what doesn’t, discussion at the workshop concluded that getting to know students is a great place to start.
Somebody even suggested (no names here) sacrificing the first tutorial to build a personal relationship with the students. Academics agreed, fostering a sense of belonging for the students within the course, and the university as a whole, definitely provides a more inspiring space in which to learn.
“Don’t pre-suppose the students have any knowledge on the topic” said Karunaratne. Teachers may be experts on their chosen subject matter, but if the students have no pre-acquired knowledge on the topic they will have difficulty getting up to speed with the material, and the course as a whole. Also be aware students will learn and engage in different ways across all courses and units. Karunaratne tackles this with enquiry based learning – gauging what the students already know.
“Provide stimulus material and ask students to brainstorm where the unit fits in with this stimulus material. The stimulus can be a newspaper, magazine, an actual product, anything,” says Karunaratne.
The workshop also touched on the Threshold Concept, an approach that ‘focuses on concepts which are foundational, fundamental or core to the respective discipline’. The “threshold concept approach addresses both the way of thinking as well as the way of practice’“, says Karunaratne, quoting Alexandra K. Trenfor’s explanation of this concept, “the best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see”.
The workshop was very well received by those who attended. Contact Lilia Draganov for more information about future workshops.