Monthly Archives: February 2017

Features of effective teachers

In my previous school, every year my department has about 10 sections of Principle of Biology Lab and I was TA for some of those. With the same class content, different teachers have very different ways to convey the materials to their students. Some teachers have to teach more than one class. But the way they teach Monday class is not identical to that of Friday class. Since teachers have a great impact on student learning and the impact might even last for years, it has always been so important to have effective teachers in the classroom. I completely agree with Deel (2004) that there is more than one way to become an effective teacher. But I think effective teachers often share certain features in common. Here is the list based on my own experiences and reading materials.

  1. Effective teachers know the subject they teach, love the subject, and commit to sharing it with their students.
  2. Effective teachers enjoy teaching and concern about the quality of their teaching.
  3. Effective teachers have clearly-defined standards of conducts as well as goals and expectations for their students.
  4. Effective teachers create a learning environment with mutual respect. In this environment, students feel they are a part of the classroom and comfortable to speak out their own thoughts.
  5. Effective teachers clearly explain the objectives of the course and each class. Also, they tell students the position of each class and how it connects with others in the overall picture of the course or even the discipline.
  6. The classes of effective teachers are well-prepared with plenty of additional information related to course materials such as the context for material, examples, and various ways of explanations to make materials more understandable and memorable. The class contents are often used to explain real-life phenomena or to link with their practical applications. Information is delivered in different ways, therefore, students of different learning style have the opportunity to absorb it.
  7. Effective teachers can explain complex ideas in simple ways.
  8. Effective teachers are willing to address students’ questions and discuss various viewpoints other than their own.
  9. Effective teachers know that not all students learn in the same way and at the same pace.
  10. Effective teachers have different methods to assess and evaluate students’ performance. They provide feedback (recognition as well as ways to improve) to individual students and explain the gap that the majority of class miss it. Also, they can adjust their teaching strategy if it does not work for the class.
  11. Effective teachers make themselves available for their students even on matters not directly related to the course.

Student Self-Assessment

James H. McMillan and Jessica Hearn defined student self-assessment as a process by which (1) students themselves monitor and judge the quality of their own performance and their learning habits. Also (2) students themselves identify gaps in their understanding and skills and propose ways to fill those gaps. If doing properly, student self-assessment is important not only in an assessment process but also in a learning process. Why is that?

  • Students know best about their own weakness and their knowledge and skill gaps.
  • Students know best about their capability to set up realistic goals.
  • Students know best about their learning style and habit, therefore they can best manage their time, speed, and method to complete their targets.
  • Students can best track their learning progress.

Fig.1 of James H. McMillan and Jessica Hearn showed the cycle of student self-assessment process. They are more responsible for setting their learning targets, working to achieve the targets, monitoring their progress, modifying their strategies, and finally adjusting their original targets or setting up new targets.

I think the self-assessment method gives students all factors (autonomy, mastery, and purpose) according to Dan Pink leading to better performance and personal satisfaction.

In order to facilitate self-assessment in an effective way, teachers play an important role. In particular, teachers should set up clear expectations, provide assessment criteria, show students how to judge their performance based on provided criteria, provide them feedbacks, and give them the chance to practice self-assessment.

By doing it properly, student self-assessment can enhance student motivation and achievement. More important, it is a critical skill that students can use beyond the classroom scale as a life-long learner.


McMillan, J.H. and J. Hearn. (2008). Student self-assessment: the key to stronger student motivation and higher achievement.