Chinese faculty study teaching methods at Benedictine
Lisle, Illinois ~
Students aren’t the only ones who come from all over the world to study and learn at Benedictine University.
This fall, 14 faculty members from Dalian Nationalities University (DNU) in China came to Benedictine for a certificate program in University Teaching that will allow them to enhance classes back home with fresh ideas, new content and innovative teaching styles.
Throughout September and October, DNU faculty in English and Humanities, Journalism, Economics, Food Science and Mathematics attended classes led by Benedictine faculty members and observed their performance with students inside the classroom. They were also paired up with individual “faculty mentors” to reinforce concepts and discuss different approaches to teaching, textbooks and other strategies to help students learn more effectively.
Victor Wang, an associate professor of history and international business at DNU, said he decided to participate in the fall exchange to further his knowledge of American History and English and learn new techniques for instructional delivery in his courses.
“Learning more about the teaching methodology can help,” Wang said. “In China, we are supposed to lecture a lot. Sometimes the class can be as big as 150 students and that is such a big class that all you can do is give a lecture. Here you have smaller classes, and you can have a discussion and have an activity students can learn from. That’s fun and impressive because it really engages students and helps them apply their memory longer.”
Other DNU faculty members said they were impressed with how Benedictine faculty were able to guide students in group discussion.
“The most impressive thing to me is that teachers here can respond to everyone, no matter what the student’s answer is,” said Nicole Ning, a lecturer at DNU. “There are no wrong answers necessarily. It just means the students have to be very communicative and have the ability to express themselves, and the teacher has to be able to understand them and conduct them.”
Vince Gaddis, Ph.D., professor of History at Benedictine, said the experience has helped to inform his own teaching in Global Studies courses at Benedictine. In one class in particular, Gaddis encouraged some DNU faculty members to answer student questions on economic development in China and the impact the country’s one-child policy might have on its future.
“Having their perspective on those kinds of things is priceless,” Gaddis said. “It helps students, it helps me and it helps my teaching in the future when I go on to address this same subject. It’s always valuable to learn other perspectives, to learn and see how other folks teach, their different styles and what their different ways of teaching are.”
This kind of exchange is one way Benedictine strives to keep the classroom interesting by providing faculty members with opportunities for professional development with an international perspective that helps keep them on the forefront of the latest trends and advances in academia.
“Anytime you have scholarly and pedagogic exchanges with other colleagues in your field it’s bound to be valuable,” said Steven Day, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Benedictine. “Being aware of other educational systems and cultures can certainly help our faculty better address our international student population and their specific needs. And, by adopting other practices to enrich our teaching, Benedictine faculty can also enhance the general educational experience for our students with an international dimension.”
The visit was coordinated through Benedictine’s Global College, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Education and Health Services, and the College of Science.
Throughout the past five years, DNU has hosted similar international faculty seminars in China for visiting Benedictine faculty. This ongoing partnership helped lead to the exchange at Benedictine, said Alan Gorr, Ph.D., dean of Benedictine’s Global College.
“This is the latest development in what has become a vast collaboration between our two universities,” Gorr said. “It has laid the groundwork for future cooperation in numerous areas and it has furthered our development as a global learning community.”