blog

Elene Japaridze

Introduction

A few years ago, when I was studying at the Faculty of Psychology, I couldn't even imagine myself in the role of a lecturer and delivering a lecture to an audience about the feminist theory and research methods, the more soin the English language. Although the lecture I'm talking about was asimulated one and my audience consisted of my close colleagues, the fact that I was supposed to prepare the lecture material and then convey it as clearly as possible for the audience to assess my teaching methodology required quite a serious effort, and it made me think of many things I had never thought about before.

When I was taking my BA and MA degrees, I made a list of my favorite lecturers for myself. This list contained all those lecturers whose lectures were interesting, interactive, dynamic, and student-oriented. Unfortunately, there were not many of such lecturers, though I can say that I still remember the names of all of them, as well as the names and contents of the subjects they taught, and I was always very motivated to acquire knowledge from such lectures.

I have also thought many times that I disliked some subjects only because the lecturer didn't try to make students interested in the subject. The lecturer's style of delivering a lecture was not student-oriented, and I could argue that it was completely authoritarian. However, this fact didn't cause surprise either in the students or in the academic staff themselves, because the Soviet school of education was mostly guided by an authoritarian style of teaching in which a lecturer's knowledge played the leading role and the student's involvement in a lecture was minimal. In the course of time, alongside a number of political and social changes that have taken place in Georgia, a lot of "innovative" changes have been made in the education system, and, accordingly, the significance of the student in the system of education has also taken its due place. I think that more or less attention has been paid to the fact that conveying particular material by a lecturer is not sufficient for the student to learn and that ready-made information is only one of the components of the learning process. I also think that it is very important by which method you convey this or that information and whether you limit yourself to verbal conveyance only or also use other methods [PowerPoint presentation, discussion, video showing, etc.] to get the maximum effect enabling students to obtain knowledge and helping them to form certain ideas about the lecture material. But, in my opinion, as a doctoral student and future lecturer, the most important thing is to help them develop independent thinking. And thinking is not developed by merely listening to lectures.

Teaching Goals

One of the main goals of a lecture is to help a student understand the main ideas of the subject being taught, which implies creative and active perception of the lecture material being taught. At the same time, it is necessary to pay attention to the main theses, explanations, and assumptions of the lecture material being conveyed. It is important that the main issues, facts, and ideas are analyzed critically. A lecture should ensure that the main ideas of the subject being taught are explained in a scientific and logically consistent way without overloading it with too many details. For this reason, it should be logically complete. At the same time, facts, examples, schemes, charts, tests, and other visuals should serve to explain the main idea of the lecture. And this is not at all easy to fulfill.

After I found myself in a lecturer's role, I realized how difficult it is to be a lecturer and how much competence and knowledge it requires. And not only the knowledge of the subject you talk about during a lecture, but also the knowledge of how, for whom and why you talk. Having information on a certain issue does not at all mean that you can convey it successfully and achieve your aim.

I think I have received very important experience as a result of the assignment/experiment that implied delivering a simulated lecture. In addition, during those 30 minutes when I talked about the feminist theory and research methods, on which I had read a number of theories, explanations, papers, articles, and reports, and had attended a number of workshops and seminars, I realized that I felt a different, stronger responsibility in the capacity of a lecturer.

When the lecture was over, I was more or less content with myself, and I was especially happy that I had received a good assessment, though the most difficult test was yet to come. The simulated lecture had been video-recorded, and my next assignment was to watch my own "performance" and write a self-reflection essay. Only after I had watched the video, did I recognize all my strong and weak sides/points.

First of all, I saw clearly how other people perceived me as a lecturer. I noticed that I was in a hurry and was focused on encompassing the entire topic in 30 minutes, which, I think, was a serious mistake. In theory, I understand that it is the quality rather than the quantity of information that matters, though, in practice, I was oriented to conveying a lot of things in a 30-minute time frame, and if I make a mistake like this during a real lecture, I will definitely be unproductive.

The second shortcoming, in my opinion, was that I allotted little time to discussion. One justification of this fact is that if I had spent on a lot of time to discussion, I wouldn't have been able to talk about the issue comprehensively. But generally, I think that a discussion is one of the very important components of a lecture, because it enables you to learn what students think about a concrete issue. The process of discussion significantly enhances the degree of students' involvement and activity.

The third shortcoming that the video made me clearly see was that sometimes I forgot that I was supposed to convey the information as simply and clearly as possible and allot more time to explaining certain concepts. Accordingly, one of the remarks I got was that a student who is not informed about the issue may get confused and find certain aspects hard to grasp.

On the whole, an experiment, which implies conducting a simulated lecture and then watching/analyzing oneself on a video tape, is one of the best methods for one to perfect one's teaching and conveying skills, analyze one's actions, and improve the teaching method.

The video, which has performed the function of a mirror, has illustrated me my strengths and weaknesses and made me actively think about my role as a future lecturer. Put simply, in the first place, my teaching philosophy aims at making students interested in the issues I will deliver lectures about and encouraging them to ponder on them. Students' opinions on what they agree or disagree to from the information I provide and their well-argued debates and discussions generate new ideas and issues for further discussion, which, in turn, is a precondition for generating new knowledge. I think that my activity as a lecturer will only be successful if I manage to contribute to the new knowledge generation.