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Reasons Abbreviations Nix Teaching

2 min read

There comes a time in an academic's career when they stop having to apply for talks. Instead they can rely upon invitations derived from a more-or-less deserved reputation. I am lucky, I receive lots of national and international invitations. So the home learning and teaching day is an opportunity to give something back and consider something new. Since one of our themes was Research Led Teaching, I thought I would talk about a pet peeve and RANT (Reasons Abbreviations Nix Teaching). Interestingly enough I sit on the organising committee for the L&T day but at UEA there's no special treatment, I had to submit. As you can see below I had a little fun with the sub-title:

Reasons Abbreviations Nix Teaching

Fwiw tbh I cba. C u in LT!


How long did it take you to process the sentence above? I suspect it was considerably longer than it would have done if I had written it in plain English because most of us are not used to text speak. I will discuss what research into teaching tells us about how we process writing. My thesis is that abbreviations and acronyms are the scourge of research-led teaching. They are a gratuitous and disastrous waste of our precious working memory. What is familiar laboratory slang to you is an obstacle to your student’s understanding. And if I encourage you to translate one abbreviation on a Powerpoint slide before you next teach then I will have succeeded.

Unfortunately this talk will never see the light of day. It was rejected by the selection panel! You cannot become an academic without learning to take rejection on the chin but I am taking this one badly. Too facetious - well then it could have been edited! But am I wrong? Are abbreviations not a handicap to understanding?