Teaching Methods: Small group teaching

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Faculty of Arts

Managing the personal side of small group teaching

Duration: 2 minutes : 2 seconds

Pam Bishop (School of Education), Hamish Forbes (School of Humanities), Michael Humphreys (Nottingham University Business School).

You have to draw distinctions very much between the teacher and the assessor, and I think all of us have to change hats from time to time. You want to be supportive, you want to be encouraging you have to understand that somebody is having a bad day, that other things are happening in their lives in a small group, which you don't have to in a lecture theatre.

You can't pretend that those don't happen, but that is good teaching because you are now thinking about the individual learner rather than yourself as a transmitter. So that is good. Having said that, there has got to become a point where you have to say "Now I'm assessing". I think those sorts of ground rules, about your relationship and your role is part of getting to know the group and being clear.

So ground rules are an important part for their perspective. We are all here to contribute, to pull our weight, to do our preparation. I am here to facilitate but I am not available 24 hours a day, so I think that is all part of setting that up which you referred to earlier on.

Hamish: I deal with dyslexic students, there are a lot of them, I see a lot of students who then turn out to have other problems. If a student comes to me it is usually because there are three problems all getting them down at once, one or two they can cope with.

I find there is no barrier between my teaching work - there is with my assessing work, yes, I agree with you, but there is no barrier between my teaching work and my pastoral work because they all run in to each other and I get help from my Head of Department because I will not turn these students away if they come to me outside office hours.

With large numbers the technology can help. Questions from students can go on the web page, so you answer one student you answer them all and that is happening in the Business School if you have a look at the Business School web pages.

So for matters of coursework and the student wants to ask when do I hand this in, how do I do this essay? They can be helped by technology.

Small group teaching resource 2 of 16
Extracts from a panel discussion on small group teaching at the January 2004 PGCHE Introductory Event. Produced January 2004.
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