Archive for September, 2011

Congratulations to Prof Dr. Mornie Hj Kambrie.

Sunday, September 25th, 2011

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Heartiest Congratulations to Prof Dr. Mornie Hj. Kambrie, CEO SIDMA College City Campus, Kota Kinabalu for being conferred the “JOHAN BINTANG KENYALANG” (JBK) in conjunction with the Sarawak Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin’s 90th Birthday on 24 September 2011 at the Lapau of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Complex, Sarawak.

by Teo Eng Seng.

Undergraduates should read as a habit and not just for exams

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR: Undergraduates should be reading, borrow books, and visit the library as a rule, and not just simply to pass their exams, said Royal Professor Ungku Aziz yesterday.

He said this was important because if we want to be smart, we should always read books because there is no other way to replace this method in improving knowledge.

”While studying in school, I borrowed a lot of books in all libraries that I visited. In fact, when I called a student and lecturer, my friends and I still like to borrow a variety of books and my favourite interest is the historical and political books.

”I am sad to see the students now only read books to pass the exams but there is also the plagiarising of content for the completion of their assignments rather than to increase knowledge,” said the former vice-chancellor of University of Malaya (UM) when opening the University Memory Digital Archives UM campus here yesterday.

Therefore, he called for all students and lecturers to make the culture of reading as a routine in life because only through reading can one increase one’s knowledge.

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Practical Ideas for Improving Student Participation

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

At a recent workshop at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, I asked participants to identify the one thing about participation they would most like to change in their classrooms. From a variety of items mentioned, we decided to focus on three. They are listed below along with a range of solutions suggested by the group. Some of the solutions apply to more than one of the problems.

I’d like to change: The really bright, articulate, self-confident students who participate a lot and intimidate others in the class. This is a version of the over participation problem that research has verified is an issue in many classrooms.

  • Use some version of the think-pair-share strategy that gets students talking with each other before anyone answers and then ask students to report, not what they think, but what their partner said.
  • Use the three-hand rule and don’t call on anyone until there are three hands raised.
  • Recognize that the norms that establish who speaks in a course are set early in the course and that the teacher plays an important role in setting these norms. Politely refuse to call on students who have already spoken two or three times. “Thank you, but we need to hear from others.” Walk to a different part of the room and speak directly to those students. “I haven’t heard from any of you folks. Please share your thoughts.”
  • Wait. Research is very clear: Teachers frequently over estimate how long they wait after asking a question before doing something else. Let there be silence. Students who are not as articulate or self-confident often need more time to frame an answer.

I’d like to change: The number of students who just agree with what someone else posted in an online discussion. This is part of the larger problem that relates to the overall quality of classroom participation.

  • Recognize that students are often afraid to disagree with each other. Address those fears with guidelines and examples illustrating constructive ways to disagree.
  • Recognize that some students agree because it’s the easy thing to do, especially if they haven’t really engaged with the text. Use strategies, possibly even assignments, that get them prepared to participate in a discussion.
  • Disagree, not necessarily with students, but with the theories and ideas of others in the field. Do so respectfully and constructively thereby modeling how and why disagreement is valuable.
  • If some disagreeing comments are posted, call attention to them, pointing out what they contribute to the discussion.

I’d like to change: The way students often fail to listen and respond to each other. Here the problem is that generally the teacher-student exchange is perpendicular. The teacher asks a question and the student answers, or the student asks a question and the teacher answers and that’s it before moving on to another exchange.

  • Solicit a student response and then ask another student to respond to what the first student said.
  • Ask more open ended questions so that a variety of different answers are possible.
  • Really, really listen to what students say. Ask an important, interesting question and then record (on the board or electronically) a variety of student responses before commenting on any of them. Summarizing what a student says cannot be done accurately without listening closely.
  • Use student answers, comments or ideas subsequently. “Remember when Tom suggested that such and such might explain that behavior?”
  • Show that you value student comments. If you use an example contributed by a student, let the other students know where the example came from.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD in Teaching Professor Blog.

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Tips and Tricks for Teaching in the Online Classroom

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Online courses at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division are facilitated in eCollege in an asynchronous format. Below are tips for being more efficient as an instructor and improving the student experience in an online forum.

Acknowledge good responses publicly – Thank students publicly in the threads for submitting good comments. This will serve to model the types of responses you expect from other students as well as give positive reinforcement to the student.

Grade as you go – When reading a student response, make sure you are in author mode. Click on the pencil and pad icon to activate the grade book and start commenting on the student’s work. This is direct feedback to the student’s initial work stating that they were on track (or not) and covered all of the necessary terms and topics (or what you would have liked to see). You can uncheck share with student and use these comments as notes until it is time to grade.

Track changes – Microsoft Word has a commenting feature and a feature called “Track Changes” that allow you to enter comments into assignments that have been submitted in Microsoft Word. This is a good resource when marking up written student work.

Use the email icon in the threads to communicate with the student – This is just a simple way to have another “touch point” with the student. This can be used as a simple response before leaving actual feedback in the assignment threads by clicking on the envelope icon. An example would be, “Lori – wow, I can see that you put much effort into this thread. Thank you for this contribution!” A helpful time-management tool is to create a spreadsheet of “good phrases” to use when needed. These could be phrases used in the past that are general enough to get the point across. A program such as Texter is helpful here. Texter is a type of program that lets you save keystrokes for commonly used phrases. For example, if I created a special character such as “1HW” then hit a hot key, such as a space bar, the program will type a phrase such as, “Thank for the week one homework submission. Please see the attached spreadsheet with my solutions.”

Post emails to class as announcements – It is an unwritten law; students lose or delete emails. In the online classroom, repetition is the mother of skill. You will often notice that you repeat yourself. When sending emails to the class, it’s a good idea to also copy it into the announcements. If the information is really important, post it in a solutions thread or any of the main discussion threads. This way the students have many opportunities to see the information.

by Jim Harrison and J. Diane Martonis.

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Crime Involving School Students Worrying

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

TEMERLOH:  Violent and property crimes involving school students in Malaysia are a cause for concern despite a drop in such cases compared to the previous year.

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said 741 cases were registered during the first half of this year.

“From January until June 2010, 761 cases involving violent and property crimes were recorded but the cases dropped 2.6 per cent during the same period this year,” he told reporters after a working visit to the Temerloh Police Headquarters to discuss the launch of the State Level Crime Prevention Day, here Wednesday.

He said the number of such crimes committed by teenagers who were not schooling was 1,142 cases between January and June 2010, and rose to 1,420 cases during the same period this year.

Lee said all quarters, especially parents, must play a role in tackling this problem.

“We also hope that crime prevention campaigns would instil values and strengthen culture as well as family institutions among youths,” he said.


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Fostering Collaboration in the Online Classroom

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Glenda Hernandez Baca, professor/coordinator of teacher education at Montgomery College, Takoma Park Campus, encourages the use of collaborative learning throughout online courses. In an interview with Online Classroom, she offered the following ideas for facilitating collaborative learning in group projects and in threaded discussions:

Make collaboration mandatory. “You have to make collaboration and participation mandatory in your courses. If it’s a choice, if you give students a choice of participating, I think you are telling them that collaboration is not that important,” Baca says. “If you can do something practical, students are going to be so much more engaged. It helps illustrate why it’s important.”

As for their concerns about finding the time to collaborate, Baca says that this is a challenge for everybody and is careful to not dismiss their concerns about the time it will take or the difficulty of coordinating the group’s efforts.

Provide advance notice that there will be collaborative assignments. Given students’ concerns about collaborative learning, it’s essential to let them know well in advance the extent and nature of what will be expected of them in the course. In addition to listing expectations in the syllabus (which she quizzes students on), Baca opens discussion forums between group members a month before a collaborative project begins, to get students comfortable interacting with each other.

Have students create a collaboration plan. There are different ways for students to work collaboratively, and what works for one group may not work for another. This is why it’s important to allow students to develop their own group processes. To that end, Baca has each group devise and submit to her a collaboration plan, delineating who will be responsible for which aspect of the project, how they will communicate, and when tasks will be accomplished.

In addition, she has them answer questions such as the following: What technology are you going to be using? What sources are you going to be researching? What is your backup plan if someone is not participating? Are you going to exchange phone numbers? What technology tools do you think will work best? How do you think this project will be best delivered to the rest of the class—as a Web page, wiki, or PowerPoint presentation? “They’re all open-ended questions to get them to think about [the collaboration process] because oftentimes they don’t think about those kinds of things until the very end,” Baca says.

Observe and monitor group participation. “For some of the discussions I’m very involved as far as posting and responding to students, and saying things like, ‘This is an interesting comment. Can you elaborate on this?’ Just being there helps move the discussion along. For other discussions, like for the open forums for them to work together on collaborative projects, it’s more of me checking in: ‘Can you give me an update as to what’s going on? Were you able to get together as planned?’ It’s just me pushing them along through the process,” Baca says.

by Rob Kelly.

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Lessons Learned from Reflecting on Our Teaching Experiences

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

I love the fact that some pedagogical journals still publish first-person reflections on teaching experiences. Many of the disciplined-based pedagogical periodicals have moved away from these accounts in favor of more empirical investigations. I regularly highlight research both here in the blog and in The Teaching Professor newsletter because I strongly believe teaching and learning would be improved if our practice was more evidence-based. But I also believe personal accounts of teaching experiences can be first rate scholarship. They can be thoughtful, insightful, and intellectually rich journeys filled with important lessons for both the author and the readers.

I’ve just read such an account written by a neurobiologist who taught a large course for the first time—300 students in an introductory biology course for majors. “Make no mistake, years of experience and training did not prevent my confidence from temporarily waning, given reports about student resistance to innovative pedagogical approaches.” (p.114) The account contains many honest admissions like this which makes it a special gift to anyone teaching a large course for the first time.

But the audience for this article is much larger than those teaching big biology classes. It is filled with teaching ideas and insights of value to any college teacher. For example, the author, Kimberly Tanner, has patterned the article after something she has students do in all her courses. They write a 1,200 to 1,500 word final reflection at the end of the course in which they respond to this prompt: “What have your learned in this class that will continue to influence you for years to come? How have you learned these things?”

“This final reflection inevitably gives me insights into what my students have valued in the course, often things that I did not realize were critical for them.” (p. 114) I can certainly see the value of such a prompt for the teacher, but how equally useful for students to review a course experience by responding to these queries.

And so, this account answers the same prompt—what did Tanner learn teaching this large class that will influence her for years to come? She lists, explores and provides examples of five realizations. There’s space to highlight one here: “It is important to be on the same team as my students.” “One of the most striking things I have experienced as an undergraduate biology educator is the assumption that instructors and students play opposing and sometimes adversarial roles.” (p. 117-118) Quite the opposite occurred in Professor Tanner’s smaller classes but could she create the sense of a team with 300 students?

She did and the strategies she found that worked to cultivate this partnership “were neither specific activities nor anything particularly dramatic, but rather habits of language and interactions that were purposefully collegial.” (p. 118) She treated students as professional colleagues. She regularly solicited student feedback about the course—not asking whether they liked or enjoyed the course, but what supported or didn’t support their learning of its biology content. She tried to think like a student, remembering how as an undergraduate she often felt lost and unclear as to the main point of a class session, and in response to that she posted an agenda for each class session which included the “guiding question” they would be attempting to understand that day. In conversations with students she focused on their learning, not their grades. And finally she writes that that she learned once again how important it is to care about and believe in students. If their teachers do not believe in them, can students be expected to believe in themselves?

by Maryellen Weimer.

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‘Inspect all sports facilities’

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

PETALING JAYA: School heads and senior assistants (co-curriculum) have been directed to carry out an immediate inspection of all sports facilities within their school grounds.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said this was to ensure that facilities such as goalposts were in good condition.

Dr Wee said this when commenting on the case of a Year Five pupil Muhammad Fakhrul Amin Abdul Rahman (pic) from SK Kampung Jawa 2, who died after being hit by a falling goalpost while playing football in the school field in Klang.

“It is a sad incident and I have asked for a report on the matter from both the school and the state Education Department,” he said yesterday.

Muhammad Fakhrul Amin, 11, suffered severe bleeding and a cracked skull in the 6pm incident on Saturday.

Education director-general Datuk Abd Ghafar Mahmud said students’ safety should be a priority and should not be compromised.

by Karen Chapman and Aminuddin Mohsin.

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Is history all about semantics?

Monday, September 19th, 2011

The debate over when is Malaysia Day, Aug 31 or Sept 16, will continue as there are still differing views. But one thing is certain – there are Malaysians who are very passionate about our history.

Last week I had my Zainal Kling moment. In case there are those who are clueless on the recent big issue concerning Malaysia, here’s a summary.

Datuk Prof Dr Zainal Kling of the National Professors Council stirred a historical controversy when he declared that Malaya was never a British colony but only a “protectorate”.

Last week, in this column, I wrote an article titled “A lesson on Sept 16”.

It was a history lesson that the Federation of Malaya, not Malaysia, was created in 1957. And that Sabah and Sarawak did not join Malaysia – they formed the country together with the then Malaya and Singapore on Sept 16, 1963.

That was that, I thought. Until I received brickbats mostly from my fellow Sabahans. Though most comments were good-hearted ribbing, I felt as if I was a snake that bit its own tail.

There were jocular warnings that Sabah will use its special immigration power to bar me from entering my state.

There were also warnings that went for the jugular. I was accused of living in Kuala Lumpur too long.

Factually correct, as I’ve been living in Greater Kuala Lumpur for more than 25 years. But parochially incorrect as you can take Philip out of Sabah, but you can’t take Sabah out of Philip.

by Philip Golingai.

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Ensuring literacy with Linus

Monday, September 19th, 2011

MUAR: The Education Ministry has set the target for all primary school children to be literate by Year Three under the Literacy and Numeracy (Linus) programme.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the programme, which was introduced as a focus area of the Education National Key Results Area (NKRA) of the Government Transformation Pro­gramme (GTP), aimed to provide a strong foundation in basic literacy and numeracy skills within the first three years of primary school education for all Malaysian children.

Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, said the ministry was concerned as there had been cases where students who entered Form One were still unable to read. He said the ministry intended to prevent this from reoccurring.

Students who face difficulties in reading, writing and basic arithmetic are enrolled in either a Linus-dedicated remedial class to improve their performance or a Special Education programme for those who have learning disabilities.

This approach has been designed to quickly identify problems at the early stage and rectify them before the students fall behind their peers.

To date, based on the two screenings done in March and June, Year Two students have already exceeded their 95% target, with a 95% for literacy rate and 97% for numeracy rate in the second screening.

Year One students have also shown some strong results, achieving a literacy rate of 83% and a numeracy rate of 90%.

by Noel Chang.

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