We would not dream of allowing doctors or pilots to do their work without formal training related to their major work activities, yet this is exactly the situation regarding teaching in higher education in most of our universities today.
Lecturers tend to be employed based on their academic ability but we all know that some highly decorated lecturers are terrible teachers.
I know of many who don’t deserve to teach students at all. They provide students with outdated notes and handouts they’ve used for decades; repeat exams questions year in and out, and some of them cannot even produce professional PowerPoint slides for their own lessons.
Having a mastery of specialist knowledge does not imply that a lecturer knows how to communicate that knowledge to students. In other words, PhD holders in particular fields of knowledge are not necessarily experts in teaching. It is one thing to know something, and it is another to know how to deliver it appropriately.
In its very crude meaning, many lecturers think their role as lecturers is to lecture—to spoon-feed students with expert knowledge and asses their ability to memorize content at the end of the course.
Sadly, times have changed; likewise teaching methods. Gone are the days when knowledge used to be content-based. Today, knowledge is a competence-based. It is no longer an issue of content coverage, but the acquisition of lifelong skills.
Teaching in a digital age is challenging as the constantly changing technology requires instructors to be on their heels in learning to choose and use technologies appropriate for their lessons. For instance, many faculty members with little to no online experiences are often asked to teach online and face the challenge of converting their traditional courses to online formats.
There is therefore a a need for lecturers to undergo a training course to develop their teaching and presentation skills.
Although having a piece of paper in the name of a teaching certificate is important, more to it is the desire for academic leadership to embrace professional development as a key to success for faculty members.
If the process of acquiring a teaching certificate cannot be embraced by academic leadership for one reason or the other, at least effective mentoring and support programs should be put in place to help lecturers.
In conclusion, teaching and learning must challenge the core beliefs of the students, cause them to think out of the box, and also motivate their learning through a practical or project-based model of learning.
For this to happen, the instructor must start with the “why.” Why am I delivering this information or concept to students? If you can’t answer the “why,” question, your lesson wouldn’t motivate the students.
Lecturers are encouraged to take personal development courses in teaching and learning to improve their teaching methods.
If no one is ready to implement change because of administrative bottlenecks, as a lecturer, do what is right even if no one is doing it.
If you agree or disagree with me, shoot me a message on the comment section below. I’m eager to hear your take on this issue.