A guest speaker or expert panel provides students with the opportunity to hear different perspectives about course content that is typically representative of the practical application of course material. Guest speakers can be used to enhance and elaborate upon the material the instructor is covering. On the other hand, inviting a guest speaker or panel members who have differing perspectives, different life experiences, etc. from you and/or each other can also be beneficial for student learning.
Research suggests several benefits of employing guest speakers as a pedagogical tool. For instance, guest speakers can bridge the gap between academics and practitioners; provide professional role models for students; enhance student learning by raising cultural sensitivity, practical and technical knowledge; and challenge and even possibly change existing stereotypes held by students (Sniezek, 2005).
When inviting guest speakers into your classroom, make sure the speaker is credible. Once guest speakers have been identified, contact them early to arrange their visit so that their visit can be appropriately scheduled to coincide with the syllabus course outline and learning objectives. Upon the guest speakers acceptance to visit your classroom on a specified date, send the guest speaker as much information about your course as possible, especially up to the point of his/her visit (e.g., syllabus, assigned class readings, etc.). Finally, encourage the guest speakers to couch their talk in personal experiences.
- Avoiding the Pitfalls of the Invited Speaker – Tamara Sniezek, Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, California State University Stanislaus: http://www.calstate.edu/itl/exchanges/classroom/1207_Sniezek.html. This brief online journal article provides a solid literature review on the use of guest speakers in addition to providing suggestions for maximizing the use of guest speakers as a part of a course’s pedagogy.
- Using Outside Speakers in the Classroom – Patricia A. Mullins, University of Wisconsin-Madison: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/teaching/tips/tips_1001.cfm This “teaching tip” article provides advice for using guest speakers appropriately and effectively in order to maximize student learning.
- Efficacy of the Guest Speaker-Learner Interface in Entrepreneurship Instruction: A Suggested New Approach – Thomas N. Duening & Shawna Markiewicz, University of Colorado; http://nciia.org/sites/default/files/features/conference/2013/papers/duening1.pdf This paper presented at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Conference (2013) suggests using the structured interview approach when inviting guest speakers into the classroom.
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