Communication in Science and Academic Skills
I was recently teaching Academic Skills at the Communication in Science department at Leiden University Medical Centre. [from October 2019 - August 2021].
My teaching methods are interactive, reflective and communicative. Please take a look below to see the types of skills and language I have gained teaching experience in.
Communication in Science, LUMC
October 2019 to August 2021
Taught Medical and Bio-Medical courses to support learning in scientific writing, presenting academically and referencing. Contributed to staff meetings on creating interactive and engaging activities and workgroup sessions both face-to-face courses and to switch to online blended learning programmes. Worked to time-pressured deadlines to meet teaching and grading schedules. Established positive relationships with students in workgroups and thesis tutorials. Supported students to create effective strategies to manage thesis assignments and engaging in a critique of scientific texts. Managed students concerns and conflicts through tutorials and effective feedback.
Academic Reading and Writing Lecturer,
BAIS, Leiden University
September 2019 - December 2019
Lectured in academic skills 3 courses drawing on materials from Global History. Adapted curricula to need students’ needs with a learner-centred approach. Support students through workgroups and one-to-one sessions as required. Built students skills in criticality, argumentation, referencing and close analytical engagement with texts. Worked to tight deadlines for assessment of assignments.
Freelance Tutor, Academic Language Center Leiden University
September 2019 - June 2020
Created, prepared and planned interactive and learner-centred bespoke courses according to student-directed learning objectives. 1. Provided 10 2-hour sessions in Business English for the management team of journalists and editors. 2. BKO (teaching qualification) exam preparation individual course focused on speaking fluency and pedagogical concepts for an Assistant Professor.
English for Academic Purposes Lecturer in Presessional Courses in Birmingham City University (BCU), Coventry University and University of Birmingham
June 2010 - November 2014
In this period taught in 5 intensive Presessional Programmes in BCU. In addition, lectured on the BCU in-country programme in Beihang University, Beijing, China April 2014 - June 2014 and the BCU in-country programme in Nanjing University of Science and Technology in Nanjing, China, May 2013 to July 2013
November 2013 to December 2013 Academic Skills Lecturer at Coventry University
August 2013 to September 2013 Academic Skills Lecturer at Birmingham City University
Duties as an Academic Skills tutor in all courses:
Conducted diagnostic assessments in reading, writing, speaking and listening in accordance to IELTS level testing procedures. Created interactive and reflective sessions in an intensive teaching schedule (20 hours+ per week) based on learning objectives on academic skills curricula. Supported students develop criticality in argumentation and engaging in academic texts in a range of disciplines from Journalism, Business to Engineering. Conducted and assessed final exams for linguistic competency in reading, speaking and listening and academic writing competency essay assignments
Academic core skills are fundamental to student learning in higher education. Without these skills, students would have difficulty engaging in and successfully completing their BA or Masters degree courses. Further, practice in these improves student ability to communicate and produce critical scientific and academic research, principles, theories and concepts. Below I have outlined the types of academic skills I have taught and are most important for students to learn and practice.
Academic writing is essential to achieving a university-level degree. This means not only learning grammatical structures but a specific set of interrelated skills. This is not only important for essay writing but also if you plan a career as an academic.
These skills included (and are not limited to);
Note-taking and Academic Reading Comprehension,
Using Subject-specific Vocabulary,
Researching & Planning,
Writing Cohesion and Structuring,
Hedging and Signposting,
Integrating Academic Texts,
Referencing and Citing,
Editing and Revising,
and not least Critical thinking.
Reading Academic Texts
Academic reading is essential to building up a core bank of knowledge in an academic field. Identifying writing features such as hedging and signposting, and building up reading methods & strategies are important to be able to cope with a large amount of (course) materials.
QU - question, A - be Active, S - systems, A - analyse
R - reflect (Quasar) method
Survey, Question, Read, Recall and Review (SQ3R) method
Reading Strategies - Skimming and Scanning
Academic skills are meant to support not only students achieving their degrees but also academic research.
I have a passion for learning and teaching research qualitative and participatory research methodology.
Much like academic writing, there is a structure and style to academic presentations. These skills take patience and practice. This is important not only for courses but also in academic careers.
Making engaging openings,
How to improve Intonation and word stress
Structuring and signposting,
Using subject-specific vocabulary more effective,
Referencing and citing orally,
Fluency and accuracy in Speech,
Using narrative structures,
Engaging the audience
Practice, Practice and Practice,
and not least Critical thinking.
Listening to Lectures
Listening to lectures for second language speakers is a challenge and requires as much practice and due diligence as any of the other academic skills. Lectures contain key information to structure courses and build knowledge.
Preparing for Lectures
Listening for Structure
Note Taking at Speed
Following up to Lectures
Building Notes for Review
Connecting to Key Theories
Adapting to another university and academic culture can be difficult. As is knowing how to connect to peers or ask questions in lectures. A lot of the time this is due to differences in academic cultures and differing expectations on students.
Understand Course Expectations
Engage in Critical Thinking and Plagiarism
Speaking and Working in Tutorials
Teaching Academic Core Skills
Efficient teachers and trainers use multiple modalities when teaching. Whether this is using the didactic method and developing a program of structured lecture series for a larger number of students to follow or using a reflective approach that encourages criticality for a small group. The key is being able to assess the situation that best certain learners needs, assets, environment and time constraints. In my career, I have had to deliver classes using various methods; didactic, reflective, learning-centred and experiential. I have a fascination with teaching strategies and approaches. Below I speak about some of the teaching experience that required me to break from my norm and develop approaches suited to the students.
Lectures and Discussion Groups
Lectured-based learning is an important aspect of university learning. However, this doesn't mean there isn't space for blended learning. During my academic skills teaching, I discovered in order to make it more efficient for students we needed to train and prepare them to listen actively and develop notetaking strategies.
Active listening and reading are both key skills required for a student to make didactic learning successful and preparatory activities such as dictagloss are useful. However, it is important for lecturers to speak in an engaging manner and provide opportunities within the tutorials for debate and discussion of the main principles raised in the lecture. While this method is thought to benefit primarily auditory learners, I learnt lecturers can engage students through integrating concept-checking mini-tests, asking critical questions, having students rephrase, summarise the lecture at the last ten minutes or having the student apply the principles in the lecture in a particular scenario. Bloom’s Taxonomy and Webb’s Depth of Knowledge proved useful to push students to achieve higher levels of criticality in their discussions and writing.
Online & Blended Learning
Recent events related to the pandemic has meant many universities having to switch to online teaching and making better use of virtual practices. It has been interesting to switch our methods in facilitating and guiding collaborative discussions with students through an online learning experiences opposed to face-to-face methods.
I have had an interest in using blended methods in teaching (please see the prezis and online methods I have used below).
See the following Prezis I created on the topic of key skills*
Listening to Lectures and Note-Taking
Zoom for tutorials
Prezi for in-class teaching and home-based preparation
Moodle and Blackboard/Canvas for organising courses and facilitating interactive sessions
Integrate short news clips from sites such as BBC News for English Learning, Songs or other appropriate authentic materials
Encourage the use of Apps to improve pronunciation such as ELSA
Google Docs to increase peer to peer learning with home-based activities
Using software to record and edit short teamwork activities to improve listening and speaking
Use of blogging for reflective learning
Reading for a Purpose and Note-taking
Learner - Centered
Putting people at the centre and being reflexive forms a key part of my teaching methodology with vulnerable communities or for one to one tutorials. Core to my teaching has been to empower students to use language as a tool to further their goals and their careers. To be able to de-code and critically assess the systems they wish to study and put forward their own thoughts and reflections. I introduce students to reflexive logs to understand their own learning processes and put forward solutions to the learning challenges they face. This can also act as a future bank of ideas and strategies going forward.
Furthering this my training with ESOL such as my 3-day training with London South Bank University in 2009 focusing on language experience and special educational needs, made it clear that all of us are learners with our unique abilities and limitations. Much of the training I encountered focused on experiential learning. Adapting materials and teaching methodologies as appropriate to the learning level and context of the student is essential.
Reflect-ive: Teaching and Researching
During my early years as a language teacher, I was introduced to Freirean reflect methodologies and the importance of allowing learners space to take control and direct the vision of their own learning.
Learning language and literacy allows one greater critical awareness of the systems and provide the potential ability to create social change.
Teaching has been fundamental to my PhD and MSSc in how I designed my research and developed relationships with my participants in the field. Realising that I learned as much as I taught during lessons, I knew that providing training to empower the forced migrants could be a viable data collection method. Teaching offered an opportunity to better connect with communities and still allow them space to take control.
Refugees and Asylum seekers create an visual representation of their skills and talents for their entrepreneurial activities
Using Reflect in Empirical Research