Faculty of International Studies holds seminar on teaching methods

Thursday - 25/10/2018 04:41
On August 29th, 2018, USSH’s Faculty of International Studies held a seminar on teaching methods with the participation of internal and external staff and lecturers. It addressed the common issues of teaching thinking and methods, the particular methods of teaching International Studies and solutions for improving the activeness and creativity of lecturers and the selection of subjects to be taught in English.

Focus on teaching students how to think and apply methods

According to Prof. Vu Duong Ninh (President of USSH’s Association of retired teachers), lecturers have to focus on logical thinking, thereby helping students to not only understand their lectures but also formulate their own thoughts. For a lecture to be logical and coherent, lecturers have to get a hold of the issue to be disseminated.

“I think the ability to think, articulate, connect one’s lectures, link lessons together and interact with students is the basic requirement of a teacher”, emphasized by Prof Vu Duong Ninh.

Also according to him, lecturers are tasked with not only communicating their knowledge but also opening up new avenues so that students can study and learn by themselves. This is entirely different from the high school teaching method.


Prof. Vu Duong Ninh

Identifying the difference between a research-based university and a regular one, Dr. Lam Minh Chau (Vice Dean of Faculty of Anthropology) pointed out the core necessities in teaching subjects at a research-based university. With the aim of creating new knowledge, such a university has to focus on training individuals that are able to generate new knowledge, which is the engine for social development. Meanwhile, regular universities only produce graduates that have standardized knowledge and professional skills. To generate new knowledge, students have to know about the new trends and fresh perspectives, as classic knowledge or viewpoints are only the beginning to creating new understanding. Thus, lecturers also have to teach students how to think critically and make their own opinions on every issue, and finally how to use research methods and solve problems.

Dr. Lam Minh Chau also argued only when lecturers act as devoted and independent researchers are they able to be highly creative, based on which they can direct, encourage and inspire students to be creative and dare to create differences.

Besides, the delegation of tasks according to the objectives and capabilities of each group of lecturers is important to improving training quality. Dr. Lam Minh Chau referenced that in other countries, the teaching of basic subjects usually aimed at freshmen are usually taken by leading and erudite professors, not the young lecturers. Because only the former are able to transfer the most complicated information in the most simple and coherent way. The basic subjects seem not difficult but require teachers to have intensive knowledge.

Prof. Dr Pham Quang Minh mentioned the three levels of analysis in international studies that lecturers and researchers have to know, namely the international, state and individual levels. Analyses at national level are currently inadequate because many students do not have enough knowledge of the political, economic and social situation of each country. Those at individual level are rare today, partly because the Vietnamese normally do not put an emphasis on individuals. In addition, the understanding of these three levels are complicated by international systems, the diversity at the national level and the unpredictability at the individual level.  

Proactive teaching

Specifically on teaching methods, the participants all agreed that the traditional method based on note-taking and partial interaction between teachers and students is no longer efficient. Lecturers have to be active, creative and apply a diversity of different methods.

Referencing the surveys aimed at the Faculty’s students on teaching performance, Dr. Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang (Vice Dean of the Faculty) said: the students highly appreciated the teaching methods of their lecturers and their ability to utilize modern methods. However, they said more should be done regarding the instruction of critical and logical thinking. The students expect their teachers to be more creative, increase the popularity of presentations and group assignments, improve the practicality of subjects and increase the duration of internship and field trips.

Prof. Dr Hoang Khac Nam (Dean of the Faculty) said there are different teaching styles that lecturers can adopt to teach corresponding students. For example, the pedagogical method involves teaching and applying knowledge to practical tasks. It is more suitable for undergraduates and highly interactive to students. But as for graduates, lecturers can be more of a “talker” that presents broader and more academic knowledge.

Prof. Dr Hoang Khac Nam set out the criteria of a good lecturer, which are passion for one’s job, enthusiasm and the ability to inspire students, attractive and logical lectures, interaction with learners and constant adjustments to one’s methods according to the realities, the ability to promote the activeness and independence of students through group discussions and seminars, and acceptance of students’ egos and differences.

Dr. Tran Diep Thanh (Faculty of International Studies) discussed the necessity to create seminars. Research showed students can remember 10% of the information if they only read the materials, 20% if they only listen to the lecture, and 50% if they combine both visual and auditory mechanisms. But if they can present their own research findings the ratio increases to 70%. If students know how to work together and present their own opinions it reaches 90%. This is useful information for lecturers.

Approaching teaching from the learners’ perspectives, Assoc. Prof. Dr Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy (Head of Division of American Studies) said Vietnamese students are still afraid of strict teachers and unwilling to engage in academic conversations. They tend to pick easy-going teachers in order to gain high scores. Not to mention the popularity of plagiarism. Thus, practical analyses and surveys on the academic needs, capabilities and mentality of students are needed to make proper changes to teaching so as to realize prearranged learning objectives.

Promoting EMI

From a specific perspective, Dr. Le Lena (Faculty of International Studies) presented her paper on the reality of teaching the specialized subjects in English at the Faculty. EMI is understood as the use of English as the main instrument in learning and teaching at training institutions – especially when learners and teachers do not use the language as their mother tongue. This is a clear and increasingly popular trend in today’s education, especially as international integration accelerates, the number of overseas students increase, and universities increasingly admit overseas students to boost their image and profit. EMI provide many benefits for learners, teachers, training institutions and the common development of each country’s education and training system.


Dr. Le Lena introduces about using EMI in teaching specialized subjects

The paper sketched out the advantages of using EMI at the Faculty: the Faculty’s specialized teachers have good English proficiency, the Faculty uses many foreign visiting lecturers and holds more and more international academic activities, students are increasingly instructed to improve their English language proficiency, and the University is internationalizing their programs.

On the other hand, the implementation of EMI faces difficulties as the Faculty’s lecturers have not been trained adequately in it, the current EMI classes are developed by the lecturers themselves rather than by combining specialized and English language lecturers, students’ foreign language foundations are uneven, and the lack of yet adequate support for lecturers and students participating in EMI classes.

Dr. Le Lena also suggested organizing flipped classes when using EMI, which are in contrast to the existing standard classes. Accordingly, the process of reading and understanding materials happens outside classrooms and is self-sufficient. Students at a flipped class interact with the lecture beforehand through reading and summarizing materials, listening to the lectures provided for via videos, PowerPoint presentations, and the internet. The time spent at classes are mainly for answering questions, discussions and in-depth clarification of the questions. Lecturers act as facilitators of the discussions and Q&A sessions. This would lead to high efficiency in both learning and teaching.

Author: Thanh Ha

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