April 14, 2008, by Teaching at Nottingham

Engaging students in learning communication skills

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Paul Crawford: “The key for me is engagement, some students, for one reason or another, might be tiredness, maybe family problems or maybe just they’ve not, sort of, keyed in. I don’t think they’re to be ignored, so I’m working at engagement even with people that might be difficult to engage with for one reason or another.”

Interviewer: “And how do you do that? What are the, sort of, things that you draw upon in the classroom?”

Paul: “Okay, I think there are a number of key things that, over the years, I’ve been teaching, I’ve found important and people have told me that is important. One is the use of humour to engage with students, not simply as a form of entertainment, but to drive through key messages and key points, and to open up a space for the student to learn, because the more relaxed you are, the more engaged you are, the more chance you will have of learning about new things.

“So that’s one key approach; the other one is to be dynamic and exciting, to convey to the students genuine enthusiasm, you know. I think students know when you’re enthusiastic about your subject; you can’t fabricate that, I don’t believe you can. So it’s the enthusiasm.

“Detail and an eye for detail in terms of structure, what you’re trying to deliver in terms of the new knowledge, but participation, ongoing participation, not participation which, if you like, leaves, you know, role play to one side, but it’s all ongoing, asking questions, responding to feedback from students.”

Teaching Session:

Paul: “This is a little trick as it were, to help you to remember key aspects of your communication when you’re out with your patients. Let me show you a couple of things. Let’s say ooh, let’s say you’re my patient okay? Here we go, ‘Hiya.'”
Student:  “Hello.”
Paul:  “How’s it going then?”
Student:  “Alright, thank you.”
Paul:  “What do you think so far?”
Student: “Very rude.”
Paul: “Sorry?”
Student: “Rude.”
Paul: “Rude?”
Student gives inaudible response.
Paul: “Why not?”
Student: “It’s too relaxed.”
Paul: “Look, where is my leg pointing?”
Student: “That way.”
Paul: “My leg is pointing away from the patient. It’s indicating I’m really off this way, so that’s not good.”

Paul: “When you actually check it through and look at it, you think actually that’s based on a lot of thinking, reflection cycle of views of the teacher as well that we’re not just there, sort of, “Oh let’s try this today.” What I do in my teaching is based, I think, on attending to the evidence about what works in teaching, and making sure that’s part of your delivery.”

Paul Crawford (School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy)

Paul is teaching Year 1 Diploma/ BSC (Hons) students as part of the Health Communication Theme that runs across modules of the Common Foundation Programme at Level 1. This session took place within the Nursing Concepts and Skills for Practice 1 module. Produced April 2008.
This video was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection.

Posted in TeachingThe role of the teacher