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What students can tell about lecturers when they are teaching: manifestations of confident and under-confident lecturers

What students can tell about lecturers when they are teaching: manifestations of confident and under-confident lecturers

Street, Paul (2009) What students can tell about lecturers when they are teaching: manifestations of confident and under-confident lecturers. In: Abstracts for Theme Papers, Symposia and Posters. NET2009 Conference, the 20th International Networking for Education in Healthcare Conference. Jill Rogers Associates Ltd., Cambridge, UK, pp. 123-124.

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Abstract

Delivering a lecture requires confidence, a sound knowledge and well developed teaching skills (Cooper and Simonds, 2007, Quinn and Hughes, 2007). However, practitioners who are new to lecturing large groups in higher education may initially lack the confidence to do so which can manifest itself in their verbal and non-verbal cues and the fluency of their teaching skills. This results in the perception that students can identify the confident and non-confident teacher during a lecture (Street, 2007) and so potentially contributing to a lecturer’s level of anxiety prior to, and during, a lecture. Therefore, in the current educational climate of consumerisation, with the increased evaluation of teaching by students, having the ability to deliver high-quality, informed, and interesting lectures assumes greater significance for both lecturers and universities (Carr, 2007; Higher Education Founding Council 2008, Glass et al., 2006).
This paper will present both the quantitative and qualitative data from a two-phase mixed method study with 75
nurse lecturers and 62 nursing students in one university in the United Kingdom. The study investigated the notion that lecturing has similarities to acting (Street, 2007). The findings presented here are concerned with how students perceived lecturers’ level of confidence and how lecturers believed they demonstrated confidence. In phase one a specifically designed questionnaire was distributed to both lecturers and students and a response rate of 91% (n=125) was achieved, while in phase two 12 in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with lecturers.
Results suggested that students in a lecture could identify if the lecturer was confident or not by the way they
performed a lecture. Students identified 57 manifestations of non-confidence and lecturers identified 85, while 57
manifestations of confidence were identified by students and 88 by lecturers. Overall, these fell into 12 main
converse categories, ranging from body language to the use of space within the room. Both students and lecturers ranked body language, vocal qualities, delivery skills, involving the students and the ability to share knowledge as the most evident manifestations of confidence. Elements like good eye contact, smiling, speaking clearly and being fluent in the use of media recourses where all seen as manifestations confidence, conversely if these were poorly executed then a presentation of under confidence was evident. Furthermore, if the lecturer appeared enthusiastic it was clearly underpinned by the manifestation of a highly confidence lecturer who was secure in their knowledge base and teaching abilities:
Some lecturers do appear enthusiastic but others don’t. I think the ones that do know what they are talking about, you can see it in their voice and in their lively body language. I think they are also good at involving the students even. I think the good ones are able to turn boring subjects into lively and interesting ones. (Student 50)

Significantly more lecturers than students felt the lecturer should appear confident when lecturing. The lecturers stated it was particularly important to do so when they did not feel confident, because they were concerned with appearing capable. It seems that these students and lecturers perceived that expressive and apparently confident lecturers can make a positive impact on student groups in terms of involvement in lectures; the data also suggested the reverse, for the under confident lecturer.
Findings from phase two indicated that these lecturers assumed a persona when lecturing, particularly, but not
exclusively, when they were nervous. These lecturers went through a process of assuming and maintaining this
persona before and during a lecture as a way of promoting their internal perceptions of confidence but also their
outward manifestation of confidence. Although assuming a convincing persona may have a degree of deception about it, providing the knowledge communicated is accurate, the deception may aid rather than hinder learning, because enhances the delivery of a lecture. Therefore, the deception of acting a little more confidently than one feels might be justified when the lecturer knows the knowledge they are communicating is correct, unlike the Dr
Fox Effect where the person delivering a lecture is an actor and does not know the subject in any detail or depth
and where the deception to be justified (Naftulin, et al., 1973).
In conclusion, these students and lecturers perceive that confident and enthusiastic lecturers communicate their
passion for the subject in an interesting and meaningful manner through the use of their voice, body, space and
interactions in such a way that shows confidence in their knowledge as well as their teaching abilities. If lecturers,
therefore, can take a step back to consider how they deliver lectures in apparently confident ways this may
increase their ability to engage their students and not only help them being perceived as good lecturers, but also
contribute to the genuine act of education.

Item Type: Conference Proceedings
Title of Proceedings: Abstracts for Theme Papers, Symposia and Posters. NET2009 Conference, the 20th International Networking for Education in Healthcare Conference
Additional Information: [1] Paper T78, in Theme Sessions - Global Challenges in Healthcare Education (8 September 2009). [2] Published in Abstracts for Theme Papers, Symposia and Posters - for NET2009 Conference, the 20th International Networking for Education in Healthcare Conference, held 8-10 September 2009, Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Uncontrolled Keywords: confidence levels, body language, lecturers, delivery skills, role play
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Health & Social Care
School of Health & Social Care > Department of Acute & Continuing Care
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:04
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/1635

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