Teaching: on the front line

February 14, 2003

What is your experience? Pat Leon asks teachers how they manage

Name: Maria Konstantaki

Age: 33

Job: Lecturer in exercise physiology, sports science and sports psychology, Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College.

Salary: £22,191 a year.

Qualifications: BEd physical education (National and Capodistrian University of Athens, Greece); MSc science of sports coaching (Sheffield); PhD in exercise physiology (De Montfort).

Experience: I worked as an aerobics, fitness and swimming instructor after my first degree. In 1996, I won a scholarship to study in the UK. While doing a PhD, I taught sports science part time. I began full-time teaching six months ago.

Hours teaching: 15 a week plus the usual preparation, marking and answering student queries. I also supervise nine final-year students on their projects.

Hours on red tape: 15-20 a week, including emails, letters, preparing exams, assignments or courses, liaising with library and IT services on resources.

Hours on research: One day a week. My main focus is lab-based ergometry to assess physiological changes in swimmers. I am also looking at the effects of exercise on diabetics, aviation medicine and arm versus leg exercise.

Teaching bugbears : Lack of resources, poor student attendance and behaviour such as talking and leaving mobile phones on in lectures.

How would you solve it? I make it clear at the start of the semester that attendance is compulsory and will be considered when marking assignments. To keep students attentive, I make regular breaks. I might crack a joke, start a conversation or walk up and down the lecture theatre. Practical sessions in the laboratory or fitness suite are less of a problem.

Teaching pleasure: When students thank me after a lecture for having had an enjoyable session that spurs them on to study further and show genuine interest in my module.

Career high points: Winning the 1998 Archimedes prize, Eighth International Symposium of Biomechanics and Medicine in Swimming, in Jyvascyla, Finland, for the best contribution as a young investigator.

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