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“Graduates of the University are expected to be able to receive and interpret information, express ideas and share knowledge with diverse audiences in a range of media and formats.”  – The University Graduate Profile, Communication and Engagement Capability 1

Effective communication provides a foundation for learning

When students have opportunities to share, compare and discuss with others, they can actively engage with content. Students articulate their ideas and questions, challenge and respond to the ideas and questions from their teacher and peers. They also develop skills that help them to organise, present and convey their ideas to others – work-ready graduates.

Creating a dialogue between your students can be a challenging yet fundamental part of teaching. Modelling the behaviour to allow for effective communication can help to build and foster a safe learning environment where students can thrive, grow and learn.

TEL in practice – communicate

Fostering critical thinking with reflective journals

Fostering critical thinking with reflective journals

Lesley Gardner and Udayangi Muthupoltotage discuss how timely, frequent and constructive feedback has a powerful influence on student achievement. However, its impact on higher education students is hotly debated and often highly variable.

Remote learning with Google platforms

Remote learning with Google platforms

Ideas from this case study will be useful if faced with challenges of remote teaching to large cohorts, or if you are interested in creative strategies for motivating and engaging all students.

Communication checklist

Here we highlight some techniques to help develop a sense of learning community:

  • Provide a personalised welcome to the course.
  • Communicate contact details and office hours.
  • Create to-do lists and consistent announcements to prepare students on how their course will run, where they can find the learning resources and how they will be assessed.
  • Enable ongoing discussions; scaffold students in discussions to build engagement.
  • Keep questions in public discussions, so all students benefit from open resources.
  • Facilitate peer dialogue around learning. Students don’t always understand the feedback given by teachers. When feedback is a transmission process involving ‘telling,’ they may ignore the active role the student must play in making meaning from feedback. Think of feedback as a conversation rather than information transmission. Students who have just learned something can often explain this to their peers in a way that is accessible. Consider allowing space for discussions between students.
  • Students brainstorm ideas in Padlet/Miro or pose questions in Piazza.
  • Encourage the use of collaborative documents (e.g., Google Docs or MS Office) for shared notes and comments.
  • The use of Slack or Teams for group messaging. Consider using a University-approved platform that works within your discipline.
  • If discussion is assessed, provide rubrics, so students have clarity alternatively, provide exemplars of good discussion practice that help students engage in discussion. This can be in the form of question prompts or guidance on how to engage constructively with peers.
  • Create a safe and inclusive environment, model good communication practices within the class setting, and clearly state expectations and outcomes.
  • Consider different types of artefacts that students can produce to showcase their understanding of their learning e.g., portfolios (), infographics, and video presentations.
  • Use the interactive H5P documentation tool – this makes it possible to scaffold students by creating, for example, a report. This is particularly helpful for first-year students.

Page updated 13/10/2023 (minor edit)

  1. The University of Auckland. “Graduate Profiles.” Updated July 5, 2020.
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