big top, lions, acrobats, and so forth. Fourth, the students interpret the message. Clearly, at
this point in the process there is no way for you to determine that all of the students received
the message you intended. To determine this, you must get feedback.
Feedback, which may take several forms, provides essential information about your success
in communicating the message. To get feedback, have the students respond to oral questions
and encourage them to ask questions. The students non-verbal behaviors also provide
important clues as to their understanding of the material. Facial expressions and body
movements often indicate when students are unsure about the meaning of your message. You
should be careful in accepting a yes response when you ask Do you understand? Obtain
meaningful feedback by asking questions that require the students to provide answers which
indicate that they in fact do understand exactly what you intended.
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS AND TECHNIQUES
There are many skills and techniques you must master to bean effective communicator and
instructor. Many of these skills you already possess, all that is required is that you use them
to their best advantage. Others, you need to learn and practice.
Listening is one of our most important communication skills. It is an active process of
hearing and understanding that demands concentration and attention. Both you and your
students have responsibilities in the communication process.
You must ensure that the learning environment is free of distractions that might interfere with
the students ability to listen.
Be alert to the non-verbal behaviors of your students. Facial
expressions reveal much of what is happening in the mind of a student. A quizzical look
indicates some misunderstanding has occurred or a question needs to be addressed. A student
leaning slightly forward and maintaining good eye contact with you is probably interested and
sincere about learning.
An affirmative head nod indicates approval, agreement, or
understanding. Conversely, eye contact out the window or someplace other than the front of
the room may indicate boredom or lack of interest. Fidgeting in the chair or a slouched posture
may also bean indication of something other than effective listening. Raised hands and relevant
questions are sure signs that you are communicating effectively. Learn to determine if students
are listening by the type of feedback they provide. Effective listening depends on motivation,
and you are the prime motivator in your classroom.
Students should arrive for instruction ready to learn.
They should participate and ask
questions as they arise. Students must understand that they have responsibility for their own
learning. This requires active listening on their part.