Teaching outside the comfort zone: An overstated problem?


  • Laura Vang Rasmussen School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan




Most teachers will eventually be assigned to teach topics that are outside their main area of expertise. In such situations, the teaching is often considered a major challenge. Lecture-based teaching has been framed as a survival strategy as teachers thereby can seek to control the classroom and avoid unforeseen questions from the students. However, limited literature exists on what can help make teaching efficient and comfortable when teachers have to teach outside their comfort zonether teaching styles have, however, largely been ignored and there is no consensus on how student learning is affected when teachers are working outside their comfort zone. To provide insight into the challenges and opportunities related to teaching outside the comfort zone, I refer to a pedagogical experiment from the ‘Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Programme’ offered by the University of Copenhagen. During this programme, I was assigned to teach a course that was outside my main specialization. Rather than turning to lecture-based teaching, I conducted a number of pedagogical activities including think-pair-share activities and role-play exercises. Based on these experiences, I argue that teachers should break away from the perception that lecture-based teaching is more comfortable. Even more importantly, I believe that teachers must shift their focus to student learning rather than their own performance.


Laura Vang Rasmussen, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan

Postdoctoral research fellow





Rasmussen, L. V. (2016). Teaching outside the comfort zone: An overstated problem?. Dansk Universitetspædagogisk Tidsskrift, 11(21), 198–205. https://doi.org/10.7146/dut.v11i21.22958