Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Challenge: Re-orienting the learning approach

As a Ghanaian who studied in Ghana, I've gone through an educational system that lays premium on passing exams and getting degrees, and cerificates -- what I call A4 sheets.
This system is still dominant, albeit there's a fresh breath of forward-thinking institutions, and individuals who realise that it's skill and ability that determine the output of an individual, and not a piece of paper.
In my (still young) academic life, I've met students who have no clue why they are in school.
For most, so long as they can get a job, they are okay.
No identified problem to be solved. No wonder most researches undertaken by students towards the award of a degree are next to 'useless' in terms of practically solving a problem.
The classroom environment is one that sees lecturers teach students what to think, and not how to think.
Chewing and spewing of facts is the norm. Understanding concepts is simply unwelcomed.
I am frustrated.
I need help in re-orienting the teaching/learning approach being used in our educational system.
I was privileged to be involved in the teaching of the Human-Computer Interaction course last semester. The first couple of classes made me realise how I had to explain almost everything on the PPTs I was using.
Note: The textbook on which the PPTs is based, and supplementary texts have been given to the students.
So the next lecture, I informed the class I hadn't read the book and so implied I wasn't ready to teach effectively.
Surprisingly, I went through about 6 slides with VERY little questions from the class.
No discussions.
That changed the next lecture because they had actually read and researched, and a wholesome diacussion took place.
I also tried using twitter to engage the class. That didn't go well, but it's a start.
Also, the students a practical assignment in training their eyes on products around them and their designs.
Thanks to Astrid, my boss Patrick, Richard, Kajsa for their advice, motivation, and believe in my ability.
There is hope.
I'm really opened to suggestions on to effectively engage my students and get the best out of them, and the courses I may teach.
Please share your tips, tricks in the comment section.


  1. Well said my boss. With the little I ve seen across the Atlantic, I think we ve good students but the modes and methods of educating needs overhauling.
    Recommendation : Employ student centered teaching. Adopt presentations intermittently, it has it challenges though. It's well.

  2. Thank for the recommendation, Lemuel.
    I also think that lecturers/teachers need to go on refresher courses, especially on teaching methods that dwell mostly on psychology and emotional intelligence. The learning environment also needs to be looked at.

  3. I did a pilot project recently regarding this problem and I realized by getting students to believe they can make a difference with their ideas plays a key role to stimulate their efforts to learn. instead of giving assignments, rather employ getting the individuals to do projects with what they have learned in the community. It will cause them to actually experiment with ideas and get them interested in understanding the usefulness of what they are studying. In our project, participants started asking more questions in class, moved to the tenth percentile in the class and made recommendations to what should have been added to the text. Guess what, they were class 4 and 5 pupils.