Covenant Tasks Lecturers on Development of Excellent Teaching Skillset
Academics in Covenant have been charged to invest their time and energy in developing their expertise in specific subject areas. This was the thrust of a presentation titled, ‘Cultivating Teaching Excellence in a World-Class University’, given by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Covenant University, Professor Akan Williams, at the just concluded Executive Advance Programme for the 2018/2019 Academic Session.
They were also advised to improve their instructional and didactic skillset, enhance their communication skill, develop a student-centered mentorship scheme, and remain systematic and continual assessors if they hoped to emerge as excellent teachers who would contribute positively to the learning environment.
Professor Williams stated that excellence in teaching entailed providing a robust academic process that would motivate students to learn in sustained and substantial ways, thereby positively influencing how they think, act, and feel.
He viewed teaching as a two-way interaction, which would demand educators to go beyond the delivery of content to understanding the learning domains. It would also require them to cater for diverse learning styles through various kinds of testing methodologies.
The Deputy Vice-Chancellor described lecturing as a one-way method of delivering contents to self-regulated learners in a classroom, while teaching had more obligation than lecturing. “We must be willing to pay a world-class price to become world-class teachers,” he added.
Professor Williams highlighted attributes that an excellent teacher should exhibit in driving excellence in teaching. Some of them include possessing a thorough knowledge of the subject matter and demonstrating a contagious enthusiasm for it; embarking on researches to develop important and original thoughts on the subject; and following regular, intellectual developments in the discipline and related fields.
Also, he emphasised that tutors should set appropriate learning goals/ objectives and communicate them clearly. They should continually demonstrate a positive attitude towards the students; work to overcome obstacles that might subvert learning; and evaluate students’ works fairly and promptly to become a pedagogical expert in their calling.
In addition, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor said that encouraging students to think and become creative would go a long way to advance the teaching culture. He said students should be provided regular, constructive and objective feedback. While maintaining an atmosphere of integrity, civility and respect, a wide range of ideas should be promoted and students should be guided successfully through critical thinking and problem solving processes, thereby helping to propagate students’ self-discovery. Teachers should also not neglect to pursue teaching and learning as scholarly activities.
Professor William said that teachers, who strive to achieve excellence in the business of teaching, must be ready to demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication and help students to acquire same. According to him, “To become an excellent communicator, one must listen attentively, be available, approachable, utilise effective teaching tools, simplify or clarify complex subjects, as well as bridge language and cultural barriers in delivery”.
He highlighted some impediments to excellence in teaching. They included teacher-centered teaching approach, dearth of requisite skills for effectiveness in teaching, low staff-student ratio, poor attitude to learning by students, inadequate learning resources, economic distraction, and poor learning conditions.
He tasked participants to cultivate teaching excellence by embracing certified teaching training sessions, continuous self-development, engaging in research-outcome teaching, which would engender robust background knowledge of the subject being taught, and employing problem-based learning approach to teaching.
Furthermore, Professor Williams called for an empowering learning environment achieved with modern teaching aids such as smart boards, podia, and multimedia devices. He added that induction programme for new and young faculty should include a teaching session, embracing standard and approved staff-student ratio balance, and continuous addition of quality learning resources.
Using the ADDIE (Assess, Design, Develop, Implement, and Evaluate) curriculum design circle, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor urged those saddled with the responsibility of teaching to always Assess and analyse the intellectual needs of their students, Design teaching plans that meet their needs, Develop a curriculum based on the designed teaching plan, Implement the developed curriculum, and Evaluate the teaching programme to determine if the needs of the students have been met.