Principles of Effective Teaching
“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” Albert Einstein
Reliability engineers, FMEA team leaders, and other quality and reliability professionals are often called upon to teach the principles of reliability or FMEA. This article is the beginning of a new series called “The principles of effective teaching.”
If you want to convey knowledge to another person, you are teaching. If you want to learn from another person who is teaching, you will benefit from learning these principles.
As always, let’s begin with definitions.
What is a teacher?
The definition of “teach” is “to show somebody how to do something so that they will be able to do it themselves.” A teacher is someone who shows another person or persons how to do something so they can do it themselves.
Teaching is the action of imparting or conveying knowledge or skills to another person or persons. It is a dynamic process. The teacher has knowledge or skills, and conveys them to others.
What is the venue for teaching?
Teaching can be informal or formal. It can be as simple as a discussion about a subject, where another person learns from you. It can be a one-on-one training session, where you convey knowledge or skills to a person. Or, it can be more formal, such as a classroom. The principles are the same.
What content can be taught?
In Accendo Reliability, we share anything to do with reliability engineering or management, including FMEA and other reliability methods. So, the focus of teaching would be the content of reliability. However, the principles of teaching apply to all content, in any body of knowledge.
What is effective teaching?
Effective teaching results in the target knowledge and skills being conveyed to the student(s), with the end result of student(s) having a working knowledge of the content, and able to apply the subject matter successfully. One of the expected outcomes is that each and every person who attends a class achieves a working knowledge and skills. You have successfully taught a subject when the students understand the material and have attained the ability to apply the skills for the subject being taught.
What is NOT effective teaching?
Effective teaching is NOT a teacher presenting the course material or merely telling the student(s) what to do. You have not taught a subject merely because you completed the slides from course material.
What are the primary principles for effective teaching?
The following are key principles that should be understood and applied in all teaching. This is not an exhaustive list, but encompasses important elements for effective teaching. Learned well and practiced consistently, the results are truly amazing.
1. Understanding: The instructor demonstrates a solid understanding of fundamentals, speaks directly to students (not reading slides)
2. Connection: The instructor maintains a genuine connection with each of the students.
3. Attention: The instructor keeps each student’s attention on the course material, and minimizes distractions.
4. Passion: The instructor uses personal interest and passion to help convey the training material.
5. Clarity: The instructor speaks clearly and confidently, with sufficient volume so that every student can hear and understand.
6. Stories: The instructor uses stories and personal experiences to deepen learning.
7. Pace: The instructor keeps the class moving efficiently through the course material at a good teaching pace (but, doesn’t skimp on FMEA fundamentals).
8. Questioning: The instructor frequently asks questions of students, and uses questioning to stimulate discussion.
9. Constructive Feedback: The instructor provides meaningful answers to student questions, and positive critiques and feedback to student’s exercises.
10. Application: The instructor reads student body language ensuring every student “gets it,” and has students demonstrate their ability to apply the material.
Each of these ten principles will be the subject of an article in the series.
The next article in the series is the teaching principle of Understanding. Teaching a subject requires that you know the content being taught well enough to understand the underlying principles. I will also share guidance on how to attain and implement this skill.