Students at university: my teaching vision and approach

Students at University should be treated with a warm welcome when joining and feel they have been provided with the platform to develop and build strong relationships for their career progression. No student should feel left behind in teaching, and when I am teaching, my ultimate aim is for all my students to feel comfortable approaching me with any problems or queries, regardless of whether it is course-related or personal. Therefore, creating a solid foundation of trust and respect between the lecturer and student is key.

Natalie Quinn-Walker
Public Health Lecturer

Students' learning curve has changed over the last twenty years due to technological advantages, and I feel the need to ensure this is incorporated into their learning objectives and the learning methods. Teaching students factual information will not directly result in progression; students need to feel encouraged and supported to solve their problems (See et al., 2017; Chroninin, 2013). Consequently, they need to build on their experiences and explore case studies and real-life examples.  

Relationship building between students and lecturers is one core element of the development and progression of students. From my own experience as a student having an open dialogue with a lecturer has inspired me to progress further. Thus, allowing my thirst for my research to develop further. Providing a supportive network for students enables growth and confidence, leading to academic success. Building a conversation with students via the preferred methods, emails, or meetings could allow for the resolution of any issues the student may be experiencing. As a previous student, it is essential for fellow students to feel they have a visual presence to ensure students can notify their lecturer of concerns and know whom to direct queries towards. 

Teaching aims to provide students with ample opportunities to explore themselves, feel empowered, and continue to have a thirst for knowledge post-education. By developing a blended learning approach, a visible teaching sphere of influence within their subject area will inspire the next generation of students. Thereby providing students with the opportunity to be exposed to relevant information and concepts that could assist them in their future careers. In essence, the relationship between students and lecturers relies upon effective communication, whereby the lecturer can share their knowledge by fostering a more productive, integrated approach to teaching (Kirby, Keary, and Walsh, 2018; Herman et al., 2015). 

Providing feedback is essential; however, the students must engage with the feedback and expand upon it. Too much feedback must not be provided, for example, by commenting on every sentence, as it does not allow the students the opportunity to develop their points. Sadler (1989) explains that feedback is the ability for students to re-focus their thoughts on the gaps in their work and aim to redefine these and understand the importance of why these gaps need to be addressed. Furthermore, providing quality feedback encourages the student to focus on their learning and develop their writing skills rather than fixate on their current task (Gibbs and Simpson, 2004). Therefore, I tend to avoid the use of comments such as 'nice work' for students; I prefer to state, 'this is a good start to your assignment; there are additional areas which you could build upon such as…'. This then encourages the students to review the feedback and begin to expand on the areas discussed. Providing comments such as 'nice work,' 'you have smashed it,' does not encourage the students to expand their assignments. Instead, I feel it inhibits the students, as they may believe they are not required to add or review their work. Peergrade (2016) argues that comments such as 'nice work' ensure the student is not in doubt; however, it provides little constructive feedback. 

Bellon et al. (1991) believe feedback needs to be consistent across all students and focus on empowering and building student confidence. However, it can be difficult if students provide a limited sample of their work. Therefore, when providing feedback, I break it down into sections to allow the students to understand how they need to develop. I use phrases such as 'You have explained the …. theory well, to enhance this further, you need to provide supportive references' or 'That is an excellent point; how would you further expand this?' This prompts the students to review these critical aspects of the assignment. Gibbs and Simpsons (2004) emphasise the importance of quality feedback, as it allows the students to focus on areas that they have missed or need to further expand upon, which I believe I provide with my suggestive comments. 

Rimm-Kaufman and Sandilos (2019) recommend constructive feedback, as it results in a positive relationship with students, as students feel their lecturer is empowering them to improve themselves. Furthermore, Rimm-Kaufman and Sandilos (2019) state that lecturers need to praise their students rather than criticise their work. My one to two positive, one improvement approach is essential. I use sentences such as "The topic you have selected fascinating, and you have read around the topic well. To further support your arguments, I recommend reviewing additional journal articles from the last five years". Furthermore, I provide encouragement rather than criticism. Other comments I have used are, "You have grasped a good understanding of the topic, and can you gain additional marks source further references to argue your point across." 

Thus, in doing so, succeeding in creating an engaging class. Eriksson et al. (2017) explain that the feedback's complexity could affect the students' understanding of the feedback. Subsequently, affecting their ability to act upon it. Chroninin (2013) suggests that lecturers need to ensure they develop assessment strategies that focus on the students receiving good quality feedback. Without precise feedback, students will struggle to progress further successfully. A strong bond between students and lecturers is essential to allow them to share any concerns or worries they may have about their home life. Thus, providing an over-arching supportive network. Effective communication is an essential part of teaching, as poor communication will affect students' engagement levels (Kirby, et al. 2018; Herman et al., 2015).  

Furthermore, this feedback should assist in future planning and ensure that their lessons meet the needs of their students. Eriksson et al. (2017) suggest there are challenges for lecturers to maintain the quality of teaching and provide helpful feedback if there are additional challenges within the classroom. For instance, if the class is overprescribed, lecturers may have limited time to engage with the students at total capacity, affecting the overall feedback quality. Lecturers are under immense pressure due to the increasing pupil numbers and the long demanding hours in popular courses. The lack of professional recognition, poor support, and disruption within the classrooms has increased teachers' and lecturers' burnout syndrome (Mearns and Chain, 2010: Antoniou et al. 2012). Their role's chronic stress has the potential to lead them to emotional exhaustion, consequently leading them to resign from teaching (Antoniou et al. 2012).  

Providing student feedback is a vital part of their learning and development. In the first lesson of each module, I spend time discussing the module assessment and begin to address any questions that the student immediately has. This is extremely important, as these questions may fester, and students may become more nervous as time lapses. My role is to provide guidance and information to the students and provide an introductory lesson into the marking scheme. Introductory lessons are vital for students to allow them to understand what is required in their assignments (Rolfe et al. 2001). 


Antoniou, A.,S., Ploumpi, A. and Ntalla, M. (2012) Occupational stress and professional burnout in teachers of primary and secondary education: The role of coping strategies: Psychology. 4(3A).

Bellon, J.J., Bellon, E.C. & Blank, M.A. (1991) Teaching from a Research Knowledge Base: A Development and Renewal Process. Facsimile edition. Prentice Hall, New Jersey, USA. 

Chroninin, D. (2013) Implementing formative assessment in primary physical education: teachers' perspective and experiences. Physical education and sport pedagogy. 18(2). 

Eriksson, E., Bjorklund Boistrup, L. and Thornberg, R. (2017) A categorisation of teacher feedback in the classroom: a field study on feedback based on routine classroom assessment in primary school. Research Papers in Education. 32(3). 

Gibbs, G. & Simpson, C. (2004) Conditions under which assessment supports students' learning Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Available at 

Herman, J., Osmundson, E., Dai, Y., Ringstaff, C. and Timms, M. (2015) Investigating the dynamics of formative assessment: relationships between teacher knowledge, assessments practise and learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice. 22(3).

Kirkby, J., Keary, A. and Walsh, L. (2018) The impact of Australian policy shifts on early childhood teachers understanding of intentional teaching. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal. 28(5).  

Peergrade. (2016) Can negative feedback drive students? Available at: 

Mearns, J. and Cain, E., J. (2010) Relationships between teacher's occupational stress and their burnout and distress: Roles of coping and negative mood regulation expectancies. Anxiety, Stress and Coping – An International Journal. 16(1). 

Rimm-Kaufman, S. and Sandilos, L. (2019) Improving students' relationship with teachers to provide essential supports for learning. Available at: 

Rolfe, G., Freshwater, D. and Jasper, M (2001) Critical reflection in nursing and the helping professions: a user's guide. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan 

Sadler, R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science. 18. 

See, B., H. , Gorard, S. and Siddiqui, N. (2017) Can explicit teaching of knowledge improve reading attainment? An evaluation of the core knowledge curriculum. British Educational Research Journal. 43(2). 

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