Chapter 5: Microteaching

Tanja Gavrilović, Maja Ostojić, Dario Sambunjak, Michael Kirschfink, Thorsten Steiner, Veronika Strittmatter

1. Introduction

Why microteaching?

Medical teachers most often do not receive a special training in pedagogic techniques, as it is usually not considered necessary for their recruitment or for an efficient continued performance. Their ability to teach therefore largely depends on self training, either by trial and error while teaching or by observation of colleagues, who may or may not be helpful examples.
Getting in front of students is a trying experience for a budding teacher. One may earnestly try to prepare him or herself: read books about teaching methods, attend lectures and take courses on didactics. Yet, in theory everything seems much simpler than in practice. The complexity of a teaching situation can be overwhelming. To deal effectively with it, teachers must not only have a good knowledge of the subject in hand, but also some communication skills such as ability to observe, supervise, lead a discussion and pose questions. Furthermore, a teacher should be aware of how students perceive him or her. This perception is sometimes quite different from the teacher's self-image. It is difficult to self assess one’s own abilities and we benefit from colleagues’ feed back to recognize our strength and identify areas for possible improvement.
Evaluation of teaching by students is becoming a common practice, and a constructive feedback could be an effective way to improve one's rating as a teacher. Even the experienced educators may sometimes reflect about strengths and weaknesses of their teaching style.

What is microteaching?

Microteaching is an excellent way to build up skills and confidence, to experience a range of lecturing/tutoring styles and to learn and practice giving constructive feedback. Microteaching gives instructors an opportunity to safely put themselves “under the microscope” of a small group audience, but also to observe and comment on other people's performances. As a tool for teacher preparation, microteaching trains teaching behaviors and skills in small group settings aided by video-recordings. In a protected environment of friends and colleagues, teachers can try out a short piece of what they usually do with their students, and receive a well-intended collegial feedback. A microteaching session is a chance to adopt new teaching and learning strategies and, through assuming the student role, to get an insight into students' needs and expectations. It is a good time to learn from others and enrich one's own repertoire of teaching methods.
A microteaching session is much more comfortable than real classroom situations, because it eliminates pressure resulting from the length of the lecture, the scope and content of the matter to be conveyed, and the need to face large numbers of students, some of whom may be inattentive or even hostile. Another advantage of microteaching is that it provides skilled supervisors who can give support, lead the session in a proper direction and share some insights from the pedagogic sciences.

Historic context

The history of microteaching goes back to the early and mid 1960's, when Dwight Allen and his colleagues from the Stanford University developed a training program aimed to improve verbal and nonverbal aspects of teacher's speech and general performance. The Stanford model consisted of a three-step (teach, review and reflect, re-teach) approach using actual students as an authentic audience. The model was first applied to teaching science, but later it was introduced to language teaching. A very similar model called Instructional Skills Workshop (ISW) was developed in Canada during the early 1970's as a training support program for college and institute faculty. Both models were designed to enhance teaching and promote open collegial discussion about teaching performance.

In the last few years, microteaching as a professional development tool is increasingly spreading in the field of medical education.

2. Planning a Microteaching Session

The duration of a Microteaching session depends on the number of participants. Microteaching should take place in two separate classrooms where the second room is required for videotape viewing. It is helpful to organize professional videotaping, although this can also be done (taken over) by the participants upon instruction.

Equipment for Microteaching session:

One-day plan for Microteaching (an example):

3. Steps in Microteaching and Rotating Peer Supervision

I. Preparation

Each participant of the session prepares a teaching segment. The presenter gives a brief statement of the general objectives of his/her presentation to be addressed. The group may be asked to focus their attention to particular elements of the lesson or of the teaching style. This may include pace, clarity of explanation, use of media, voice and body language, level of group interaction.

II. Presentation and Observation

Each participant presents his/her 10-minute teaching segment. He/she is allowed to use the media available. During the presentation, other participants serve as members of a supervisory team and take notes for the group feedback. Special assessment forms (Tables 1 and 2) may be helpful in standardizing the observation and feedback process. Each lesson is videotaped. Although the lesson is short, objective and procedures should be clear to generate useful discussions.

III. Videotape Viewing

The presenter watches the tape of his/her presentation and decides whether or not the objectives were accomplished. He/she also makes a list of strengths and suggestions for personal improvement. Then he/she again joins the supervisory team. In the meantime the supervisory team discussed and made conclusions about the teacher’s lecturing.

IV. Discussion and Analysis

While the presenter goes to another room to view the videotape, the supervisory team discusses and analyses the presentation. Patterns of teaching with evidence to support them are presented. The discussion should focus on the identification of recurrent behaviors of the presenter in the act of teaching. A few patterns are chosen for further discussions with the presenter. Only those patterns are selected which seem possible to alter and those which through emphasis or omission would greatly improve the teacher’s presentation. Objectives of the lesson plan are also examined to determine if they were met. It is understood that flexible teaching sometimes includes the modification and omission of objectives. Suggestions for improvement and alternative methods for presenting the lesson are formulated. Finally, a member of the supervisory team volunteers to be the speaker in giving the collected group feedback.

V. Giving and receiving feedback

Under the guidance of the professional supervisor, the presenter is first asked to present a self feed back of his mini lesson. With this new information taken into account, the supervisory team member who volunteered to be the speaker summarizes the comments generated during the analysis session. This part of the session is intended to provide positive reinforcement and constructive criticism. The presenter is encouraged to interact freely with the team so that all comments are clarified to his/her satisfaction.

The way in which feedback is given and received contributes to the learning process. Feedback should be honest and direct, constructive, focusing on the ways the presenter can improve, and containing personal observations.
The following is a series of suggestions on how to give and receive feedback in a microteaching workshop.

3.1. Giving feedback

When you are giving feedback, try to:

  • Be specific rather than general. For example: rather than saying “You weren’t clear in your explanations”, tell the presenter where he/she was vague, and describe why you had trouble understanding him/her. Similarly, instead of saying: “I thought you did an excellent job!”, list the specific things that he/she did well.
  • Be descriptive and specific, rather than evaluative. For example: you would avoid starting the sentences with “you”, it is better to start with “I”, so you can say: “I understood the model, after you showed us the diagram”.
  • Describe something the person can act upon. Making a comment on the vocal quality of someone whose voice is naturally high-pitched is only likely to discourage him/her. However, if the person’s voice had a squeaky quality because he/she was nervous, you might say: “You might want to breath more deeply, to relax yourself, and that will help to lower the pitch of your voice as well”.
  • Choose one or two things the person can concentrate on. If the people are overwhelmed with too many suggestions, they are likely to become frustrated. When giving feedback, call attention to those areas that need the most improvement.
  • Avoid conclusions about motives or feelings. For example: rather than saying: “You don’t seem very enthusiastic about the lesson”, you can say “Varying your rate and volume of speaking would give you a more animated style”.
  • Begin and end with strengths of the presentation. If you start off with negative criticism, the person receiving the feedback might not even hear the positive part, which will come later.

3.2. Receiving feedback

When you are receiving feedback, try:

  • Not to respond to each point, rather listen quietly, hearing what other’s experiences were during their review, asking only for clarification. The only time to interfere with what is being said is if you need to state that you are overloaded with too much feedback.
  • Be open to what you are hearing. Being told that you need to improve yourself is not always easy, but as we have pointed out, it is an important part of the learning process. Although, you might feel hurt in response to criticism, try not to let those feelings dissuade you from using the feedback to your best advantage.
  • Take notes, if possible. If you can, take notes as you are hearing the other people’s comment. Than you will have a record to refer to, and you might discover that the comments that seemed to be the harshest were actually the most useful.
  • Ask for specific examples if you need to. If the critique you are receiving is vague or unfocused, ask the person to give you several specific examples of the point he/she is trying to make
  • Judge the feedback by the person, who is giving it. You do not have to agree with every comment. Ask other people if they agree with the person’s critique.

In total, be practical, tactful, constructive critical, open toward other’s ideas and opinions in the microteaching workshop and in your classes as well.

4. Appendices

Characteristic growing plants with HPS grow light hydroponics uk birmingham Aim Observed
Duration of presentation Approx. 10 minutes Start time.......
Finish time........
Total duration...........minutes
Comprehensibility The presentation should be given in comprehensible language. The presentation is sufficiently comprehensible.
Comprehensibility should be improved.
Visualization The presentation should be accompanied by selected elements of visualization. The following forms of visualization have been used:

  • slides
  • handouts for the participants
  • pin board
  • flipchart
  • white/black board

The visual elements assist the understanding.
The visual elements should be improved.

Density of information Density of information should be high. However, it must not overtax the learner. The density of information seems to demand too much of the learner.
Density of information is rather high.
Density of information is rather low.
The density of information seems to demand too little of the learner.

Further observations - -
Table 2. Characteristics of a good quality presentation. (Tick Yes or No when assessing)
Is the presentation comprehensible?
- speaks freely yes no
- short sentences yes no
- terminology is comprehensible yes no
- presentation is well-structured yes no
- conciseness yes no
- use of examples yes no
Is the presentation stimulating?
- eye contact yes no
- speaker varies his position yes no
- participants are encouraged to contribute yes no
- use of humor to create a relaxed atmosphere yes no
- presented with commitment yes no
- friendly/respectful behavior yes no
Is the visualization helpful?
- visualization is clear and well-structured yes no
- includes graphic elements and optical stimuli yes no
- easily legible writing yes no
- colors help to focus on the important aspects yes no
- comprehensible visualization yes no
- affectionate layout yes no


5. Literature

Books:

Articles: