How to lose interest and alienate paying customers—we mean—hard-working students.
Kia ora koutou, and welcome to Lecturing 101. In this course presented by the University of Craccum, we’ll outline how to lecture effectively, according to real case studies and student feedback. This paper will cover common techniques used for voice monotony and creating out-dated 2006 powerpoint slides. We will also examine a range of influential teaching methods including reading-off-the-slides, kindergartner-style-handwriting, and self-indulgent-ramblings.
Of course, there are official University of Auckland channels to do this through, but why would you provide useful information to the people who need it when you can just complain and commiserate on the pages of Craccum?
Module One: Good Lecturing Case Studies
Naomii: “I had a lecturer with a thick Irish accent who’s catchphrase was ‘it’s not rocket science!’ when it was, in fact, quite literally rocket science. He was teaching us difficult quantum chemistry concepts, but because he kept insisting it wasn’t that hard he gaslit the class into good grades. As soon as I finished the exam for that paper all the knowledge I had leaked out my brain through my eyeballs. I got an A-, but don’t ask me anything about quantum energy states. Bell curve, that’s all I remember.”
Nancy: “I adore when lecturers are unashamedly nerdy about their subject. For my French Revolution History paper’s intro lecture, the lecturer greeted us by SLAMMING a metre-ruler in half on the table without any warning. Later he explained it was to illustrate how France’s adoption of the metric system was a legacy of the revolution. Other wholesome moments of the History department’s proud nerdiness include the wearing of medieval-artefact themed ties to class and showing tourist pics of themselves at historical landmarks in their lecture slides. Their enthusiasm is very heartwarming and infectious.”
Michelle: “For me, lectures are so much more memorable when the speaker dumbs things down, and if they’re conversational to a certain level. We already get enough jargon and formal language from academic papers and textbooks, after all! Definite kudos to the down-to-earth lecturers from Māori 130G for this.”
Charlie: “A lovely physics lecturer used to play us physics remixes of pop songs before every class to get us in good spirits. People didn’t really appreciate it, but every lecture they put in the effort to find us a relevant tune, and make class seem a little less stressful. It was really sweet, you could tell they actually cared about the class, and it made me want to care too.”
“At least a hint of enthusiasm in the lecturers’ tone helps. I find it somewhat helpful when at least one of us isn’t half dead, and unfortunately that is not me”.
The vibes in the lecture room are already not it. It’s even worse when neither party wants to be there. At least lecturers could try to pretend they don’t regret selling their soul to this academic institution.
“When they allow students to ask lots of questions and there can be a bit of debate back and forth”.
We stan lecturers that remember that lectures are not for performing their (bad) stand-up or SNL monologue. Unless it’s good, then by all means own that stage, Professor! But, we still appreciate some audience or meet and greet type interaction every now and then.
Considering that most students do not hold PhDs in weirdly niche areas of study, it would be nice to be treated to a concrete example from time to time.
“Doing their calculations live”
Go. Prove you’re not a fraud. Recorded calculations are definitely sus.
Who doesn’t enjoy a little profanity to help them get through their 8 a.m. classes?
“Just ask anyone taking Chinese politics, if you know, you know”
Why Chinese politics students gotta gatekeep… :(( Now we’re really nosy. Maybe we’ll launch a Craccum investigation and infiltrate inconspicuously into your class next issue…
Module Two: Bad Lecturing Case Studies
Naomii: “The most memorable lecture I ever had was this guy who was covering for someone else in the course. He read off the slides and because the slides were mostly pictures, he ended up going through them at about 10 seconds per slide. No explanation, nothing. Just a flashing picture and about two words. It was like one of those word association games but bad and confusing; what I imagine having a small stroke feels like. He finished the one hour lecture in—I kid you not—15 minutes.”
Nancy: “If anyone voluntarily picks a business paper to take as one of their Gen-Eds, they need to be bonked in the head. And by they, I mean me. 60% of this random marketing paper I took consisted of the lecturer playing various five-minute ‘infographic’ type videos off Youtube to kill time. The remaining 40% was just them reading off 2003 Windows-quality slides that were a regurgitation of the course textbook. I want my $800 back.”
Charlie: “There was a lecturer who loved to walk up and down the stairs of the lecture theatre as he was teaching. One time he took it so far that he walked all the way up one side, around the back of the seats and down the other side, whilst explaining his 3,000 word slide to us. What was the purpose?”
Charlie: “The first lesson of one of my language classes began with the lecturer putting on a TV show with no context, and showing someone dramatically trying to jump off a building. She did not clarify why we watched it, and simply started into the grammar like nothing had happened. The same class ended with a karaoke sing-along to their favourite opera song where they were the only one singing. The class was really all downhill from there.”
Amen. What else are students supposed to look at? Your dying pot plants and cat sweater? We’re going back to online shopping.
“When they make low quality online recordings so you can’t hear it or see it properly”
When will someone invent an “OK Boomer!” button for Zoom to let lecturers know that they’re on mute, or their screen has not been shared? Software Engineering students, get onto it.
“Long lines of words on the slides”
None of us want to read the entirety of your latest research paper. Also bold of you to assume our eyesight is good enough to. Petition for the University to instate word counts for lecture slides. 5% grade-bump for the class for every 100 words over the limit.
Now, not every lecturer can be Annalise Keating, but that’s okay. This piece is all good and fun, but we have to remember that lecturers put up with a lot of shit, and they’re all just trying their best. With support from the Uni continuing to be cut, facilitating and teaching courses with hundreds of students is not an easy job. You try telling 200 black squares about market interest. So, show some much-deserved respect and love to your lecturers! After all, they power our tertiary education, aesthetically-ugly slides and all. Just maybe put some constructive criticism in their teaching surveys next time.