In universities, the scholarship of teaching and learning is oftentimes determined by how our instructors teach and facilitate our students for them to thrive in academia. Our instructors’ educational backgrounds, work and research experiences, and scholarly teachings play important roles in our students’ learning, academic achievements and success in academia. By encouraging our students to take the steps to follow simple ways to create content, work collaboratively, and take responsibility for their own learning, our instructors can both focus on performing teacher-centred roles and put effort into ensuring the quality of teaching to achieve the desired outcomes, and pay attention to many opportunities to facilitate and support our students to develop understanding and knowledge as well as academic and career skills in order to achieve learning and teaching excellence.
Personally, I graduated from Master of Education Program in Teaching English as an Additional Language at Simon Fraser University. When I was studying for my Master of Education degree, I taught 100 Introduction to Japanese I and Chinese 100 Mandarin Chinese I courses as a Teaching Assistant for Language Training Institute, and also taught IELTS workshops for Linguistics Department. The Language Training Institute, or the Department of World Languages and Literatures, which is a department that offers language and literature courses at Simon Fraser University, required Japanese 100 Teaching Assistants to collect personal profile cards from our students at the beginning of every semester. This gave our TAs a chance to understand our students’ educational backgrounds, academic strengths, questions and concerns, and respond to them in practice throughout the semester. Our students could thus have a safe space to develop and improve linguistically and academically.
Our students will benefit more if our instructors can raise their own awareness of the importance of instructors’ roles and student-centred teaching practices, such as acknowledging students’ academic strengths and understanding their questions and concerns, answering the questions and concerns accurately and precisely (Lo, 2022), addressing the questions and concerns in practice, encouraging students to study diligently with learning content and engage in socially interactive language and practice with instructors and peers, and offering extra help for students after classes and during office hours. I think encouraging our students to create review questions with accurate, precise and full answer key is an excellent way to facilitate our students to be able to accurately and fully understand their learning content and materials in order to achieve excellence on their quizzes and exams and in their courses. When creating review questions, the following questions can be considered:
1. Meanings of unfamiliar words, sentences and paragraphs in the reading materials, textbooks and assignments, etc., and how to understand them.
2. Questions about key concepts and concepts which need to be explained and elaborated upon for clarification, and accurate and full comprehension.
3. Questions about study tips and how to prepare for and excel on quizzes and exams, etc.
Our instructors can first organize opportunities for our students to create review questions (e.g. weeks after the start of the new semester, and prior to midterm exam and final exam). Our instructors can then read our students’ review questions, mark the answer key, and if necessary provide accurate, precise and full answers and responses for our students to study with, and count the completion of the review questions as part of the course grade (e.g. 30%).
According to Community of Inquiry Model, interaction with instructors, interaction with content and interaction with peers all play important roles in helping, facilitating, promoting and determining academic and educational excellence (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007). One interaction-with-peers and student-centred approach was the socially interactive pair/group work in Japanese 100 classrooms. Other than the instructor lecturing and transferring knowledge to the students, the students were encouraged to develop understanding and language skills with the support of their peers. The students were responsible for their own learning as well as the learning of their peers. The TA’s task was to promote an environment in which the students could build both their language skills and team work skills through supporting each other. In summary, by encouraging and promoting creating content, working collaboratively, taking responsibility for own learning, and offering extra help for our students after classes and during office hours, the notion of open access to education and inclusivity can play an important role in determining the scholarship of teaching and learning, and go a long way towards achieving teaching and learning excellence in higher education and academia.
All the best,
Lo, S. (2022, March 28). When Active Learning Fails: Faculty Beliefs, Student Outcomes, and Opportunity Gaps [Presentation]. Simon Fraser University 2022 Teaching Matters Seminar Series, Burnaby, BC, Canada. https://sfu.lwcal.com/event/28428-when-active-learning-fails- faculty-beliefs-student
Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. The Internet and Higher Education, 10(3), 157–172. doi: 10.1016/j.iheduc.2007.04.001