Against the Grain: 'Students need to feel valued and trusted'


Alan Mortiboys is Professor of Educational Development at Birmingham City University. He argues that university lecturers should teach with more emotional intelligence.

If you want to be an effective teacher in higher education, the assumption is that you need to know a lot about your subject and have technical skills that you pick up from teacher training courses or your own experiences – such as how to use your voice, how to plan a session, or how to get your students to be more active. But what's overlooked is the emotional dimension of learning and teaching.

To be fully effective, you need to teach with emotional intelligence. Emotions are bound up with learning, and lecturers need to acknowledge that they can have a significant effect on how learners feel, and how successful their learning experience is. In a lecture, things happen on an emotional as well as a cognitive level.

The way to do it is to shape an emotional climate that's conducive to learning. You need your students to feel the kind of emotions that are going to help them learn: they should feel valued, trusted and curious.

The larger the group the more difficult this is, but the key thing is to establish a good relationship between yourself and the students. This can be done simply by putting more energy into things such as the way you respond to questions.

I've been involved in teacher training for many years, and I've done a lot of teaching observations. On many occasions, the teacher was an expert in their subject and had all the technical stuff in place, but there was something missing. They weren't paying attention to how the group was feeling, or doing simple things like using people's names, so the value of their expertise in the subject and their pedagogical skills was reduced.

Some lecturers are intuitively emotionally intelligent, but others make no attempt to connect with the audience. They assume that their value to their students lies solely in their subject knowledge, and completely ignore the potential for engaging with the students.

Typically, a lecturer will put all their energy into organising the content, but none into the one thing you can't prepare for, which is the audience's response. And if the students aren't engaged, it doesn't matter what you're saying.

Some academics say that my approach is too touchy-feely and waters down academic rigour. But they're not recognising that strong feelings are involved whenever you teach. If you're someone who thinks this emotional stuff isn't for you, that in itself is going to have an effect. It's not about being nice to students: it's essential to challenge their ideas, but you have to respect them as people.

Alan Mortiboys' latest book, 'Teaching with Emotional Intelligence', is published by Routledge

News
peoplePaper attempts to defend itself
Voices
voicesWe desperately need men to be feminists too
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

Year 2 Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Bognor Regis!

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: Year 2 Teacher currently need...

Primary Supply Teachers needed in Cambridge

£21552 - £22552 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

DT Teacher - Graphics

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Part time Design and Technology...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum