Imaginative and well-planned teaching is at the heart of a transformative student experience. Today Associate Lecturer Linda Nguyen from RMIT Vietnam’s School of Communication & Design talks to us about how she draws on contemporary instructional design to create the best possible learning outcomes for her students.
What is your approach to teaching?
I believe students learn best when they feel engaged and comfortably activated. Therefore, I am an advocate of active learning and have always attempted to use a variety of methods to encourage student discussion and interaction rather than just giving one-way lectures. I always try my best to apply a student-centred teaching approach.
What is something you do in class to inspire students to achieve the best possible learning outcomes?
After years of teaching different types of learners, I realise the importance of setting learning objectives and understanding students’ expectations. One of my research interests is student expectations, so my day-to-day teaching practice is informed by my research. We need to know what the students expect from the course, in other words, what they hope to achieve so that we can help them reach their goals.
Sometimes what they hope to achieve might not be suitable for the course. For example, in my Introduction to Advertising course, a lot of students expect to learn in depth about all components of an ad campaign, which is overly-demanding for an introductory course. In this situation, the role of the teacher is to guide students in the right direction, how the students would benefit the most from the subject.
How do you use feedback in class?
One of the key focuses of my teaching practice is giving feedback. I always think that we can grow and improve so much based on constructive feedback so that’s something I’m always committed to giving my students.
My feedback is given at different times throughout a semester, and in different formats – verbal or hand-written feedback for hard-copy drafts in class, and electronic feedback via Google drive. I also encourage and create opportunities for students to get feedback from their peers and sometimes, from industry guests. Many students have personally acknowledged my feedback to their learning progress which makes me very happy.
What else do you do in the classroom that has a positive impact on students?
One of my goals is to help students stimulate creativity and enhance autonomy, especially when teaching in a Vietnamese context where students are more accustomed to a passive, rote learning approach. To make their learning style more positive, I prefer to incorporate various formats of activities – individual, pair, and group – to maximise students’ interactions with each other. This hones their communication skills and benefits their construction of knowledge.
I also try to make students understand that in reality, there are various ways to tackle a problem so that they can put their creativity to good use, embrace possibilities, and find the best routes to more innovative problem solving.
I also keep in mind that my students are not the same. They have different backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses, as well as preferred modes of learning. Therefore, I always attempt to design varied learning activities with the help of digital technology so that they are suitable for different type of learners: visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.
Story: Howie Phung