Reflections

I have now attended all the courses in «Universitetspedagogikk» and completed all the parts of my teaching portfolio. This text represents my thoughts and reflections on what pedagogical knowledge and development I have gained in the past year and what future directions I see for my development in teaching.

Teaching, no matter level and form, consists of multifarious components and factors and their interaction (we are after all Homo sapiens in a modern society), that all have to be aligned in order to result in the aimed increase in skill level of the students. Such components and factors may very well be dealt with and implemented in the teaching of genetics via the didactic relational model and alignment theory. Using these theories and practices in my teaching will be beneficial for both the development and adsorption of teaching for the students and me. The quality of teaching, in terms of the student’s skill level increase, also greatly depends on my enthusiasm and excitement for the topic, which are only ensured by continues development of my research in genetics.

During the course I have also developed a new awareness of the importance of cognitive processes for skill acquisition in genetics. Especially, the combination of short (20-25 mins) focused lectures, real life examples, and lecturer assisted student discussions appears to be a promising strategy. The importance of aligning the planning, execution, and assessment in teaching also represents a significant skill acquisition for me and will be of utmost importance when planning new courses in genetics. I am aware that much more work is needed for an optimal teaching situation where this strategy is fully developed. Specifically, I think I would need to have “own” course(s), as it is doubtful that, for example, alignment theory will be easy to implement in courses with two or more lecturers. Of course, I will be able to use parts of the constructive alignment approach and the teaching strategy outlined above for “my” bulks of lectures and questions at the final exams.

An important component for me, in all forms of teaching, is the establishment of student–lecturer contact. Only when this contact is formed, I have the possibility for thorough formative evaluation, which is important for how I plan and execute my teaching in genetics. This contact has been easy to establish (so far) in situations of supervision, but harder to form (so far) when lecturing. However, I regard the teaching strategy described above as one possible solution for establishing the student contact, as the examples and discussions softens the atmosphere amongst the students and between the students and me, in addition to activate all students. This was at least one of the results of the specialization project I conducted as a part of my portfolio. Notwithstanding, I feel obligated to establish this contact with the students as it otherwise become difficult to fulfill my wish of providing “good” teaching at a high academic level. Additionally, this contact is needed to comply with the ethical guidelines for teaching at UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

I also found the use of peer-evaluation as a developing and productive activity, since observing others while teaching also enhanced my own reflections and perspectives about teaching. I also obtained valuable inputs about how to improve my own teaching when I was evaluated. For me, it is actually surprising that this exercise is not already an integrated and obligatory part of teaching in academia, when most other scientific output is peer-evaluated before it is published. Surely, we obtain student evaluations of our courses, which are useful for evaluating the teaching from the student’s perspective. But, the students do not have the pedagogical background and scientific insights at the skill level of the academic staff, which justify the use of frequent peer evaluation to ensure continues pedagogical development and renewal in teaching. For example, as a direct consequence of the evaluations I received from my peers, I will in the future try to develop the use of problem based learning in genetics and also search for courses that could increase my oral performance. Additionally, I will continue to use peer-evaluators in my own teaching. I am also considering implementing the use of peer-evaluation among the students in future courses in genetics, for example in the situation of seminars.

When stating at this course in «Universitetspedagogikk» I was asked to provide a couple of pages describing my expectations to the course in terms of learning outcome. When addressing this document again, it is clear that I had too high expectations to what I actually could learn within a single year. But, importantly, I also realize that I now have made a huge leap in my understanding of the pedagogical background for many of the expectations and that continues work with developing my teaching skills eventually will fulfill these expectations.