Being a Teacher in Higher Education

By Peter T. Knight | Go to book overview

Part 1
People, times and places

It is easy to assume that being a good teacher is a personal responsibility, dependent on whether you prepare thoroughly, speak well, read books on teaching, use the right technology, smile a lot, give sensitive feedback to students and so on.

There is something in that. Teaching well does depend upon the individual and these first six chapters contain plenty of suggestions about things that you can do to enhance your teaching. But not upon the individual alone: rather, upon the individual in the community. Part, but only part, of the explanation is that teaching is not just performance in the presence of students. I use 'teaching' to refer to all the planning, preparation and other activities that teachers do to help student learning. Most teaching, in my sense of the word, happens out of contact with students. This backstage work is shared work in a way that classroom performance is not because course and programme design, assessment plans, module evaluation arrangements, resource decisions, admissions and teaching policies, for example, are teaching activities that implicate teams. (I am using 'course' and 'module' interchangeably and using 'programme' to refer to the whole curriculum that leads to an award.)

Besides, while our doings, thinkings and feelings are individual, we do, think and feel with scripts that are shared with others. What we understand about being a teacher in higher education is very much a personal understanding and it draws upon shared ideas of what teaching and higher education are, ideas that will vary from department to department and between now and then. Our expectations as teachers, the practices we take for granted and our beliefs about what is good are influenced by the contexts in which we are. In one setting it is easy to be a good teacher because normal practices sheepdog everyone into teaching well. In those departments it would take a perverse talent not to teach well. In others, it takes grit to teach well, although it is easy to get by with informationpeddling and plenty of testing. Being a good teacher is about personal skill deployed in an environment rich in appropriate affordances.

-1-

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Being a Teacher in Higher Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Part 1 - People, Times and Places 1
  • 1: Being at Work in Higher Education 3
  • 2: Learning Teachers, Learning Students 22
  • 3: Being a New Teacher 37
  • 4: Feeling Motivated 54
  • 5: Maintaining Teaching Vitality 72
  • 6: Part-Time Teaching 86
  • Part 2 - Teaching Practices 99
  • 7: Instruction 104
  • 8: Learning Tasks 124
  • 9: Creating Feedback 143
  • 10: Designing for Learning 160
  • 11: Getting Good Evaluations 178
  • Part 3 - Times of Change 187
  • 12: Change, Experiencing Change and Making Change Happen 189
  • 13: Managing Your Career 199
  • 14: Being a Teacher in Higher Education 215
  • References 220
  • Index 233
  • The Society for Research into Higher Education 246
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