Benedictine faculty teaching students, staff in Vietnam

April 19, 2017

Lisle, Illinois ~ Benedictine faculty members John Snyder, an instructor in the Daniel L. Goodwin College of Business, and Ovid Wong, Ph.D., associate professor of Teacher Education Preparation, traveled to Binh Duong University in Vietnam (one of Benedictine’s partnership universities) last fall to share their expertise and insights into American business and teaching methods.

Snyder first taught at Binh Duong in 2014. In his most recent appointment, made possible through a Core Fulbright Scholarship, Snyder taught Master of Business Administration and undergraduate business courses in managerial finance and marketing as well as the Capsim business simulation, which teaches students business fundamentals.

Vietnam is steadily becoming a major economic powerhouse with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As such, the country is heavily investing in education as it seeks to provide more advanced training to its workforce.

“You can tell the Vietnamese education system is trying to improve delivery and results from higher education,” Snyder said. “The common refrain is too much ‘blue sky’ and not enough practical skills, which stems from past learning processes that stifle critical-thinking and actions. Businesses see prospective job applicants as too passive, not team-oriented, challenged to work independently and struggling to define and solve job-specific problems.”

However, he was able to note some parallels between students in America and Vietnam in terms of their commitment and willingness to absorb the academic workload.

To teach effectively in a foreign classroom, Snyder had to learn how to pace his lectures and limit overly complex words and sentences.

“I found that drawing lots of figures and sketches on the chalkboard helps,” Snyder said. “Visual learning is effective as it breaches the language barrier. Business concepts are universal. It’s the delivery and localization of the information that counts.”

Faculty members at Binh Duong took note of Snyder’s teaching style and asked if he could teach other professors how to transition from “teacher-centered” to more “student-centered” instruction.

Realizing there was another professor at Benedictine who teaches this very subject, Snyder reached out to Wong to help lead training for 30 teachers including deans, department heads and administrators across academic disciplines.

“We Skyped back and forth a number of times and the faculty also read my book to understand my intellectual foundation and delivery strategies,” said Wong, author of “Pivotal Strategies for the Educational Leader: The Importance of Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War.’”

Wong also spent two weeks at Binh Duong leading trainings, which included an assessment of current teaching practices and interviews to determine future goals for improvement.

“This is done by running a seminar on teaching strategies and suggesting ways of doing things differently in the classroom,” Wong said. “At this time, the level of training is focused on awareness. Changing teaching skills takes a change of culture and this will take more than one round of faculty training to adjust teaching behaviors.”

As part of the training process, which may take up to three years, Wong has been asked to return to Binh Duong this summer with financial support from the U.S. Embassy, U.S. Consulate and Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Vietnam.

“I am encouraging them to find an internal leader to sustain the change and institutionalize the process of teaching for excellence,” Wong said. “If they go that route and ask the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate for support (through grant application), Binh Duong could become a regional training center for Vietnam.”

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Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois, and Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 9,000 students in 56 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. A 2016 PayScale Inc. report ranked BenU one of the top 10 colleges in Illinois for return on investment and in the top 20 percent nationally. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, admissions@ben.edu or visit ben.edu.

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