JOHN VIANNEY AHUMUZA
Any academic journey through any higher institution of learning leaves a lot to desire. Apart from learning experiences encountered in life’s changing moments, one of the key dilemmas faced is when a lecturer wants students to do something and yet the very students want something else!
Communication barriers in the lecture room certainly make it difficult for students to get the most out of their education. Many times, lecturers or tutors fail to create engaging sessions that would aid them connect with their students on a one-to-one basis. This creates uneasiness towards an ideal learning environment. The fact of the matter is that once effective communication fails, learning too withers out! This means that lecturers or tutors have to pay attention to following barriers to effective communication.
Equally, if neither the lecturer nor the student pushes the communication or expresses their expectations, both parties may stay silent. Students sometimes feel they are taking up too much of a lecturer/tutor’s time with frequent communications. Class room instructors may assume that a student who doesn’t ask many questions is uninterested or doesn’t have any issues to address. This is however not always the case. The fact of the matter is that not all students’ comprehend content at the same time. Sometimes students may have trouble comprehending lessons and organizing their thoughts. Because of hesitation, students may often shut down, isolating themselves out of fear or embarrassment.
Classroom communication often suffers when students feel bored or unenthusiastic about their schoolwork. Yeah, I know it’s impossible to entertain students all day, but teachers should work hard to develop engaging lessons with interesting, relevant activities. Thought-provoking assignments, technology-enhanced lectures and creative projects spur classroom communication and interaction. On the other hand, outdated and monotonous assignments create communication barriers, and students just want the class to be over.
Communication between teachers and students might also be hampered from personality differences between the two. For example, many students feel uncomfortable connecting on a personal level with their teachers and avoid communicating with them.
This personality dynamic can be frustrating for teachers who attempt to bond with each student, only to find their efforts unsuccessful. Students who are outgoing and more vocal, often strive to be the teacher’s pet. Teachers and classmates might get irritated with students who seek attention. Personality differences lead to frustration, unhappiness and a lack of communication between students and teachers.
This could probably be the least likely reason. However, peer pressure can create communication problems in the classroom when students respond to teachers by acting funny, cool or disengaged. Students might refuse to build relationships with their teachers in order to maintain their not-so-interested-in-school reputations. The best way for teachers to combat communication difficulties resulting from peer pressure is to reward positive behaviour.
So, what exactly can the teachers do to improve communication with students?
l Encourage all talk, but particularly talk about positive aspects of learning (including what was good about good work).
l Persuade students that communication is helpful to their learning.
l Help students to develop productive ways both of asking for help and responding to help that was given.
l Disentangle the underlying message in communication from students and avoid making unwarranted assumptions about the motives behind their queries.
Research says that students are less stressed because of reasons such as examinations, unstructured lectures, interpersonal issues and higher education. In fact, they find it difficult to cope when teachers come to the classroom unprepared and start teaching randomly.
A negative attitude from one or both parties often affects the relationship. If the teacher looks at students as a nuisance or a time waster, the students are likely to pick up on the attitude and limit communication. Likewise, if all communication from the teacher is negative, the students won’t look forward to attending lectures.