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The Impact of Teacher Presentation Style

Kathryn Brillinger, Conestoga College

(Please email me at kbrillinger@conestogac.on.ca for a References list.)

Research indicates that certain paralinguistic behaviours are helpful in

teaching and presenting, and that certain behaviours undermine the deliver's
message. This seminar covers the expectation of students in terms of teacher
presentation style involving volume, emphasis, vowel quality, gestures,
proxemics and pace. Cross-cultural differences between students will also be

Task One: Three people each ask me a

question about teacher presentation style.

a) Continuum of Teaching Skill

Novice Experienced Competent Expert

*Note: The designations “Novice” and “Expert” do not refer to length of time
teaching in any way.

1. Sources of information
• Research studies
• SATs
• Behavioral inventories
• 10 second clip of a teaching video
• $1500 US assessment with a 20% chance
• Checking adjectives for 100 low and 100 high rating on

2. How much happier is an expert teacher in the classroom?

Novice teachers have up to 10:1 negative to positive experiences in a

classroom session (possible reasons for burn-out/drop-out). Experts almost
exact opposite!

An Adaptation of Korthagen’s (2004) Onion



competencies (SMK & PCK)

beliefs about teaching/learning

professional identity



First Impressions and Paralinguistics in the Classroom

Expert teachers are more likely to teach a full first class than novice teachers
who focus on the outer layers of the “onion” and stop. Expert teachers
deliberately force all levels of the “onion” during the first session. They
supply themselves with opportunities to interact with the class and ensure
large doses of:

validation affirmation elaboration personalization

Expert teachers display particular characteristics in large degrees when

interacting with the class (note experts drop many of these when actually
lecturing whereas novices have a lower volume of the following at all times).

“Charismatic expressive styles (high gesture, movement, inflection, laughing

and drama) correlate with student satisfaction.” (Shaw & Young, 1999)

Experts describe heavy prepping for the first class and a deliberate storing up
of energy. Novice/Experienced teachers tend to minimize the first class.

• First impression studies show it takes only 8-15 seconds to solidify an impression and
3 solid pieces of evidence to change a first impression.
• Expert teachers are very careful not to be perceived as unfair in the classroom and even
seem to divide their eye contact equitably. Interestingly in one study, low ratings were
given to teachers who gave preferential attention to high-achieving students and high
ratings to those who assisted students having difficulties. Expert teachers seem to
understand student reactions.
• Robertson (2005) found expert teachers seem to value the paradoxes of teaching and
use them generatively. Even in the first class, they balance control/flow,
facilitator/evaluator, loving the subject/loving the student, subject expert/teaching
expert, caring for students/caring for self, individual mentor/group leader. Experienced
teachers, on the other hand, seem to switch hats – focussing on one and then the other
side of the paradox and novice teachers experience conflict.

Visible Behaviours:
z Oculesics (scanning for control)

z Facial Expression (frequent smiling, “soft” mouth)

z Head Movement (tilting and nodding)

z Proxemics (step forward on question, “fair” movement)

z Posture

z Haptics (touch own chest area)

z Intonation and Volume (range of 5)

z Emotional Regulation – both negative and positive – not too


z Gestures: Deictic ________________, Iconic _____________, Batonic


Culture: Every culture has its own expectations of instructor behaviour and delivery
methods. Cultures differ in terms of expectations of:
1. “clarity” of presentation 3. classroom interaction
(Who does the work?) 4. spatial-behavioral
2. enthusiasm 5. communication behaviors

Some Teaching Characteristics of Novice/Expert Teachers

Novice Expert
Sticks to Lesson Plan Improvises
Micro Planning Macro Planning
Focus on Task Awareness and
Accommodation to
Learners as Individuals
Limited Repertoire of Vast # of
Techniques Techniques/Routines in
Misses Promising Intuits the “Promisingness”
Situations of Situations
Resistant To Change Continuous Change and Experts are slow to start solving
Improvement problems, attempt to define the
Imposes and Maintains Builds Good Relationships discipline problem and test hypotheses
about possible solutions before acting.
Surviving Coherent Theoretical Experts show more complex solutions
framework Integrating than novices. Memories of previous
cases contribute to their expert
Curriculum performance.
Doing Job Rich and Integrated i.e. Novice teachers overhearing a snide
Conceptualization of remark will often call the behavior.
Expert teachers often responded with an
“Mission” eyebrow raise and diversion. When
Responds Immediately to Responds Slowly but asked to explain, the novices interpret
Behavioral Situations Effectively to Behavioral the remarks as a challenge, the experts
Situations or “Almost” interpret the remarks as showing off to
Ignores Them
Continually Surprised By Ability to Predict Behaviour Experts codify and draw on case
Behaviors in Certain Conditions knowledge.
Uses Mostly Passive or Uses Both Active and
Active Teaching Passive Teaching
Techniques Techniques
Tire Themselves by Develop “Gestalts” or
Responding to Situations Automatically to Deal with
Emotionally Situations that Commonly
Lose Initial/Pre-Service Feel Energized and Re-
Sense of “Calling” Motivated by Each Class
Pessimistic about Great Belief in the
Teaching Effectiveness of Teaching
How do teachers run their classes?

1. Novice teachers:
- favor direct teaching of curriculum items even in the lesson “initiation” stage
- do not carefully regulate the amount or flow of content
- try to cover as much of the curriculum as possible
- lack strategies for uncovering their learners’ prior knowledge
- if they do, accidentally, uncover an unexpected lack/surplus of prior
knowledge, they do not adjust their teaching

2. Experienced teachers:
- learn to “bait and switch”
- start with a HOTS (Higher Order Thinking Skills) grabber and move to the
direct teaching of curriculum
- regulate the amount of content but do not adjust the flow to allow more/less
when possible
– use recall questions to uncover prior learning of students and seem to be
trying to make students aware of what they don’t know

• Expert teachers:
- lessons richer in HOTS than novice or experienced classrooms
- focus is obvious both in the lesson initiation and throughout
- seem to follow a “less is more” policy and reduce content in favor of mastery
and experience
- add more content where needed/possible
- experts have higher rating for HOTS and lower rating for content relative to
both novice and experienced teachers
- deliberately discover and use their learners’ prior knowledge, expecting
surprises and modifying accordingly
–use pre-assessment questions that allow them to understand students’ thinking
about prior learning and to demonstrate to students how much they already
know and how interesting/possible it will be to tackle the course learning

HOTS = a pedagogy that taps into learner’s interests, perspectives, prior

knowledge and learning strategies using methods such as critique activities,
problem finding and solving, discovery learning, project-based teaching and
the need for reflective self-assessment.

“Master teachers are not born, they become. They become primarily by
developing a habit of mind, a way of looking critically at the work they do; by
developing the courage to recognize faults, and by struggling to improve.” (Kane,