Facilitating Learning: The Teacher

Mastery of the subject

This is so obvious, but so important that it can hardly be over-emphasised. A good teacher must keep abreast of his/her subject, and this is where research and teaching can be mutually enhancing.

Pedagogical assumptions and practices

  • The teacher’s role is to facilitate.
    Learning may be facilitated by such means as:
    • logical sequencing of content;
    • providing structure and a conceptual framework;
    • directing students’ attention to objectives;
    • encouraging learners to relate information to their own experiences and pre-knowledge to promote understanding and long-term retention;
    • posing questions and problems, which may be the single most important tool in facilitating learning; an effective teacher encourages questions and asks the right ones.

  • The teacher’s attitudes/expectations impinge significantly on students’ performance.

    Educational psychologists call this the ‘Pygmalion effect’, after G.B. Shaw’s play where the heroine, Eliza Doolittle, observed:

    ...the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.

    Researchers have shown that teachers invariably convey their expectations, intentionally or otherwise, and create self-fulfilling prophecies. It is therefore important to set high expectations of success.