Published on March 7, 2014
Teacher's communicative style in sustainable education Teemu Ylikoski Susanna Niinistö-Sivuranta www.laurea.fi
1. Interpersonal competence Justifications sustainability experts are change agents, working in interdisciplinary teams, influencing attitudes and knowledge: communication is critical Laurea’s pedagogical approach emphasizes working life skills. The ability to communicate, act and influence in a working life environment is pivotal. 2
Developing interpersonal competence Interpersonal competence arises from learning by doing. It requires facilitation, guidance, and cocreation. The role of the teacher is critical in creating a communication environment that fosters the development of communicative skills. For some educators, there is a substantial shift involved. 3
Teacher competences The traditional discourse of teaching emphasizes proficiency, expertise, and communication power. Knowledge, logic and argumentation are the building blocks of this traditional discourse. However, it falls short from the point of view of interpersonal competence development. In the new culture of learning the educational discourse of expertise transforms into a discourse of tutoring and joint learning. 4
A paradox? What initially interested us is the paradox of ”good teaching” If the teacher’s job is to ensure students’ professional growth as interactive communicators, is this goal best acheived through a. b. The traditional discourse of an expert teacher, powerful lecturer, and skilled speaker Or the new discourse of the teacher-coach, who stands back when needed, letting students fill the communication space In short, what is the example we show our students in terms of communication style? 5
2. Analysis We have analyzed actual student feedback data from a Finnish university of applied sciences. Using qualitative coding, we looked for themes relating to teacher communicative styles; themes pertaining to the teacher’s attitudes of lecture vs. interaction 6
3. Results The results revealed something we didn’t anticipate, but which makes perfect sense nonetheless: the discourse of lecture vs. interaction is more complex. There are two groups of student discourse relating to interaction vs. fact-based lecturing 7
Early phases of learning Students in the early phases of their studies tend to emphasize ”correct data”, ”straight facts”, and the grades they receive. This seems to border the discussion on external motivators in learning. Students have still to see the purpose of their studies. The ”good teacher” in this discourse is a person who is clear in assignments, delivers facts straight and ”true”, and leaves preferably no space for interpretation. 8
Later phases of learning Students with a longer history in studying start to emphasize different issues in their discourse. This is where the talk of interaction, participation and co-creation starts to arise. Students seem to approach the intrinsic motivators in learning, where learning itself becomes important, not the attached grades. In this discourse, the ”good teacher” is one asking questions and encouraging discussions. 9
A path of professional growth content interaction motivators grades learning facts 10
4. Conclusions The path of professional growth towards interpersonal competence starts from fact-based learning and progresses towards interaction The role of the teacher is complex; it is not only about supporting communicative skills and coaching interaction, it is also a question of guiding the student through the process of socialization It seems the teacher needs to ”grow” on a path parallel to the student’s path. Interpersonal competence needs to be coaxed carefully, building on small steps first and then speeding up later. 11
Conclusions Students’ professional growth consists of several simultaneous paths: Students need to become socialized in the university, learning how to act They need to learn to manage their time and the demands of school They need to build their own expertise They need to learn how to interact and present their skills, capabilities and knowledge While these can happen in parallel, there is also a sequence involved. The teacher needs to adapt into the needs of the student in the student’s present stage in the growth process 12
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