What is good teaching? Many academics in reflective moments have asked
themselves this question. Administrators in institutions of learning struggle
with this question as they attempt to meet students’ needs and create
reward schemes for their teaching staff. But the answer is elusive, one
possibility being: “It depends.” But who is asking the question
in the first place: the student, the teacher, or the administrator?
From reviewing past students’ feedback over the last few years,
I would like to share some of their perceptions of what makes good teaching.
The students’ qualitative feedback can be broadly categorised into
two groups, A and B.
Let’s look at the teacher’s perception of these two broad
categories. Some will look at Group A and conclude that this is good teaching.
But is this really what a teacher would like see in his feedback?
What about Group B? It would seem that teachers in this group are not
only are good, but also effective teachers, able to enthuse their students,
stretch them and make them think. However, can all administrators see
the difference between Groups A and B?
Consequently, both teachers and administrators must address the issue
of good teaching vs. effective teaching. If we simplify the equation such
that effective teaching = good teaching, could we also say that good teaching
= effective teaching?
Students seem to have a problem differentiating good teaching from effective
teaching. In looking at nominations for good teachers, the majority of
students nominate teachers in Group A as good teachers, and only the discerning
few would nominate Group B teachers. Teachers in Group A often are very
good at mentoring students and meeting their emotional needs. After studying
student feedback, I have come to the conclusion that students have great
difficulty differentiating a good mentor from an effective teacher. In
fact, many see the mentor as their ally and the effective teacher as the
Thus, it is important for administrators to get the right message across:
does the administration require effective teaching or only good teaching?
Unfortunately, in this less than perfect world, reward schemes play a
significant role in modelling behaviour. Thus, setting the right criteria
for teaching standards is important.
While reflecting on teaching, we should consider another point: is bad
teaching really detrimental? After all, what does bad teaching do? It
often drives learners to the library. The outcome: independent learners.
Isn’t this one of the outcomes of effective teaching?
So, what are the expectations of teaching?
Whose expectations are to be met: the students, the teachers, or
Is there a match among these groups?
Who is right?
Does it matter if there is no match?
I would like to share some personal thoughts: What happens if there is
no match in expectations? Each individual teacher should then ask himself/herself
Having answered the above honestly, each teacher should develop a strategy
so that all parties concerned are aware of the individual teacher’s
goals and expectations. When the various parties concerned are aware of
your own expectations, they will understand your actions better and misperceptions
can be avoided. Therefore:
So… Good teaching: Whose point of view? Your point of view matters