Communication between students and academics

Posted by Natasa Brouwer, Michal Wozniakiewicz, Iwona Maciejowska, Bartosz Trzewik, on Oct. 14, 2021, 5:56 p.m.

Iwona Maciejowska, Michał Woźniakiewicz, Bartosz Trzewik, Katarzyna Zięba, Aleksandra Lis
Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland

Challenge and goal

The investigation and discussion on the communication issues between students and teachers revealed problems that draw particular attention to this matter. Following the interviews with teachers we identified an increased frustration related with communication with students. From one side, the expectation of the teachers willing their students to directly copy all the knowledge given to them during lectures is not realistic nor valuable.

Topic of the user case

Interpersonal communication

Local context (specific)

Effective communication is always the key to success. Not surprisingly, it is of great importance whenever the interchange of instructions and opinions between students and academic teachers takes place. Once the communication is efficient it supports the teaching process in STEM disciplines at several levels: stress reduction, speeding up the achievement of learning outcomes, helps in avoiding unnecessary repetitions of exercises, and increases safety in the laboratory area.

It has been identified that poor understanding of the communication process may support such belief, leading to stressful situations (both for staff and students). Such situation may strongly decrease the motivation of both sides in teaching and learning process and thus postpone achievement of learning outcomes. The other problems in communication may be related to misuse or misunderstanding of complex words and acronyms. Such situation may be of particular importance in case of chemistry laboratory exercises, when such unclear instruction (eg. solution of a substance in solvent and solution as the result of mathematical calculations) may lead to repetition of exercises or creation of hazardous situations. Certainly, the increased frustration of both sides of the T&L process may be unavoidable in such case. 

Such situations have been observed on both cycles (MSc, MSc) of chemistry, physics, biology, and engineering. Moreover the reports of inquired teachers indicated that such communication related problems appeared in national and international interactions, making the case universal. 

The main goal of this user case is to emphasize the role of communication between students and teachers and increase the awareness of its function in a successful university. It is also designed to emphasize how communication channels may be efficiently used in spoken and written language. 

Local educational scope (science, technology, engineering, math, other)

The chemistry, medicinal chemistry, environmental protection, chemistry of sustainable development degree, biology, biochemistry and physics programs (1st and 2nd cycles) at Jagiellonian University

Pre-knowledge / Background of the participating local teaching staff

The local staff represents various levels of awareness on the role of communication process in teaching and learning. Staff is offered numerous courses and activities assisting in effective communication, nevertheless they are facultative and time-consuming. STEM teachers are frequently principal investigators in research projects and their commitment to CPD is intermediate. Thus, only a limited number of them recognize themselves as well trained.

Local CPD goals

Taking into account reports and interviews with teaching staff the following goals have been identified 

  • Development of knowledge about communication models, information overload
  • Raising  understanding of the main reasons for problems in communication between teacher and students and among students in Science.
  • Development of the ability to analyze didactic situations and a reflective approach to own teaching  materials and activities (e.g. laboratory instructions).


Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

9 give prompt feedback and support students during learning
11 stimulate discussion
30 make/produce short MOOCs
3 inspire a positive attitude in their class.
4 make students feel special, included, safe and secure.
7 read literature about teaching and learning in higher education.
13 analyse the effect of teaching and introduce changes in an evidence based way.
8 discuss teaching with their colleagues.
1 reading books / journal articles on teaching and learning in HE.
2 attending presentations about teaching approaches.
5 following online courses / MOOC about teaching and learning.

CPD activities at the local university

Stage 1

Interviews with coworkers on most frequent and frustrating problems related to teaching at the university. 

The microMOOC development team meets every two weeks. 

A meeting with the Dean of the Faculty of Chemistry and deputy Dean for students affairs as well as with a Dean's plenipotentiary for the quality  assurance takes place to discuss the problems reported to faculty authorities. 

microMOOC developed as a product ready for testing. 

Stage 2

Test of the microMOOC on a limited cohort of volunteers recruited among peers. 

The MOOC is promoted by its authors and  Science faculties authorities.

Stage 3

A follow-up discussion meeting/webinar will be organised.

Teaching and learning materials

  • microMOOC (link to the MOOC)
  • Recommended reading: A. H. Johnstone, Chemistry Teaching—Science or Alchemy? J. Chem. Educ. 1997, 74 (3), 262.

Sustainable implementation

At the first stage of this user case, the lecturers who are developing the MOOC  learn collaboratively and the increased awareness is shared with fellow lecturers, doctoral students/teaching assistants.

A session during the Quality Teaching Week at JU will be organized to promote the MOOC and present their developments.


Expected impact of the CPD User Case

  • Reduction of burnout situations.
  • Increased effectiveness in communication with students. 
  • Raising awareness that teaching in higher education is a profession which requires several competences.

Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic

The communication is the process which changes over time and technology development. It is planned to monitor how the surrounding world effects on the communication efficiency and then to adjust the developed teaching materials (microMOOC) or din case of opening the new challenge - develop a new user case related with this one. 

Competence teaching, Deep learning, Use of digital tools for a pedagogical goal (type P1-2a, P1-3c, P1-4a)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in teaching in higher education and how to facilitate student’s deep learning and development of higher cognitive skills and how to use specific digital tools in teaching for a pedagogical goal and develop attitudes in supporting student development and enabling students’ well-being in a learning process and inclusivity and practicing teaching and learning in an evidence informed way and knowledge sharing.
The approximate duration of a User case that follows this scenario is several weeks.
In this CPD scenario the participants are using a very short open online course, a micro mooc (μmooc) and professionalize in a close connection to their own teaching practice (at their workplace) and meet in person on location with the training staff and with other participants.

Learning environment
Several weeks

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