How to teach: 13 top teaching tips for university lecturers

Respondents to the 2017 THE Teaching Survey give their words of lecturing wisdom

February 14, 2017
Illustration of people talking with speech bubbles above their heads (16 February 2017)
Source: Runeer/iStock

For the 2017 Times Higher Education Teaching Survey, we surveyed more than 1,100 university staff to find out what they think about the state of teaching in higher education. The full results will be published on Thursday 16 February.

In the meantime, many of the respondents took the opportunity to offer some teaching words of wisdom. Here, we’ve pulled together some of those top teaching tips.  

‘The majority of the “work” of learning should be done by the student. A teacher is there to make sure they are (vaguely) going in the right direction’
Postdoctoral researcher and part-time lecturer at a Russell Group university in London

‘Allow for thinking time and silences; give everybody a chance to speak (even it’s just reading out a bit of text)’
Arts and humanities lecturer at a Russell Group university

‘Eliminate second marking if second markers cannot change marks; otherwise it’s a waste of time’
Arts and humanities lecturer at a Russell Group university

‘Don’t lower your standards in pursuit of “student satisfaction”. Set the bar high and students will thank you for it in the long run’
Social sciences lecturer at a medium-sized pre-92 university

‘Be friendly, speak more slowly than normal, repeat key points at least three times and insert silence gaps to allow students to catch up’
Medical sciences lecturer at a Russell Group university

‘Be honest with your students about expectations from the beginning. Lay ground rules for email (for example, “I will respond within 24 working hours – between 9-5, Monday to Friday and certainly not at weekends”)’
Arts and humanities lecturer at a pre-92 university in the Midlands

‘Make a point that [the lecture theatre] is your space, not theirs. Students should be facing the front, taking notes and respecting their peers. Don’t be afraid to kick people out for being disruptive or to disallow latecomers from entering’
Science lecturer at a large post-92 university in south-west England

‘Your teaching persona can change everything. Don’t pretend to be more serious than you are in real life just because that is how you think most teachers are. Students will see right through it’
Arts and humanities lecturer at a US university

‘Stop allowing students to think they are experts on what they should be learning, and teach them to better respect the skills, education and authority of teaching staff’
Senior lecturer in creative arts at a large university in south-east England

‘If you allow your passion for learning and guiding young people towards discovery to shine through, it will become contagious and infect your students for the rest of their lives’
Head of department at a Canadian university

‘Have a good teaching qualification: one in which you have been challenged to develop and rationalise the how and why of what you do as a teacher, and in which your conception of teaching and learning has been discussed and deeply thought about’
Senior lecturer in education at a large modern university in north-west England

‘Don’t call it “teaching”. Call it “facilitation of learning”’
Medical science lecturer at a post-92 university in south-east England

‘Turn off your mobile notifications and check email at set times. Don’t waste energy resenting late-night student emails: ignore them until you start work’
Administrator at a large Russell Group university in London

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