Teach Don’t Preach: Adoption of Active Learning and Student Engagement Strategies
The primary goal of this project is to improve student learning in public higher education institutions in the Republic of Macedonia by providing sufficient guidance and resources to academic staff on active learning and student engagement strategies in large classrooms.
The objective of the project is to introduce and demonstrate basic active learning strategies and techniques in large classrooms to academic staff employed in 3 public universities in the country: the Ss Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje, the St Kliment Ohridski University in Bitola and the Goce Delcev University in Stip.
We have organized three workshops on the following topics:
Teaching using case studies: engaging students in actual problems
Critical thinking, group discussions and problem solving skills
Harnessing the power of storytelling, jokes and asking questions
Each of the workshops is a 3-hour event which is held at each of the institutions involved. The participants are introduced with the topic, provided with examples of successful implementation strategies and are asked to share their current classroom practice. The events are hosted by Elena Oncevska Ager, an expert on teaching methodology. JFDP fellows Atanasko Atanasovski, Elena Filipovska - Bozinovska, Aleksandar Naumoski and Jane Bozinovski share their experiences of the American Higher Education system. The participants are encouraged to evaluate the overall usefulness and feasibility of the approaches and techniques being discussed. At the end of the workshop, the participants' readiness for action and implementation of the suggested approaches is evaluated. The final project report will include an overview and comments of the results.
The first workshop, entitled “Active Learning in large classes: impossibility or challenge?” was held on September 30, 2010 at the Faculty of Pedagogy of the Goce Delcev University in Stip. At the workshop, 38 academia members from this university in eastern Macedonia shared their current teaching practices and discussed the applicability of the different active learning strategies in their learning environment.
Elena Oncevska Ager explained the goals of modern education, defined effective learning and elaborated teaching approaches such as positivism, cognitive psychology and social constructivism. Furthermore, she explained the characteristics of the successful learning strategies.
The JFDP alumni shared not only their experiences in the US classrooms, but also the results of using active learning approaches in their classes with the Macedonian students. The benefits of the case study method, of cooperative student learning through project activities, as well as that of storytelling and drama in large classrooms were demonstrated to junior and senior faculty staff.
At the end of the workshop, the participants provided positive feedback on the workshop and shared their beliefs regarding the usefulness of active learning, as well as their future plans for implementation of the applicable strategies in the design and delivery of their courses.
The second workshop of the series is scheduled for October 29, 2010, at the Tourism and Hospitality Faculty of the St Climent Ohridski University in Ohrid.