University of Social Sciences and Humanities, VNU Hanoi

https://ussh.vnu.edu.vn


Prof.Dr Pham Quang Minh: “I gained the inspiration of innovation from the teachers themselves…”

That was the statement by Prof.Dr Pham Quang Minh (USSH’s Rector) at the 2019 conference “Innovating higher education teaching methods” held by USSH on March, 30th, 2019. Over 150 lecturers and staff shared their viewpoints on the innovation of higher education teaching methods
Prof.Dr Pham Quang Minh: “I gained the inspiration of innovation from the teachers themselves…”

From left to right: Assoc.Prof.Dr Hoang Anh Tuan (Vice Rector), Prof.Dr Pham Quang Minh (Rector), Assoc.Prof.Dr Bui Thanh Nam (Head of Office for Academic Affairs)

The first speaker at the Conference was Prof.People’s Teacher Vu Duong Ninh (Chairman of the Association of Retired Teachers), alumnus of the 1st class of Faculty of History, Hanoi General University. In his speech, the Professor emphasized the decisive role of teachers in assuring the quality of teaching and learning affairs. Accordingly, no matter what area it is and how much the impacts of science and technology are, teaching affairs always revolve around three main tasks: disseminating – guiding – suggesting.

On the task of disseminating, according to Prof.Vu Duong Ninh, the important thing is teachers have to possess logical thinking and good pedagogical skills so they can transfer knowledge coherently, clearly and intelligibly. Students are able to learn how to think about problems through the way their teachers disseminate knowledge.

Prof. Vu Duong Ninh

On the task of suggesting, the Professor said this is the different job that a lecturer of a university specializing in basic sciences has to do, which is helping students gain theoretical knowledge and a vision extending beyond the subjects taught at classes. Through the classes, lecturers offer the relevant materials to students.

“Teachers themselves have to be researchers with broad knowledge in order to perform this task well. They have to teach what they have studied and discovered, not merely repeating what others have said” – said Prof. Ninh.

On the task of guiding, the speaker said teachers have to discover the “holes” and “blind spots” in their studied fields and guide students in a gradual process of developing thinking capability and practical skills required to construct their own studies.

On “Innovating teaching and study methods in the context of the 4th industrial revolution”, Assoc.Prof.Dr Vu Cao Dam (President of the Council for Science and Training, Institute for Policy and Management, USHS) said the current global context is profoundly influencing teaching affairs at universities. In particular, smart devices have been increasingly showing up in productive activities as well as daily routines. Scientific and technological advances happen quickly. Numerous new theories arise in different areas of science and technology. The Internet of things has been penetrating academic settings at a high speed.

Assoc.Prof Vu Cao Dam

Accordingly, the speaker said teaching and study methods have to be renovated in three ways: First, it is necessary to develop a code of an information Society. Second, teachers and learners have to efficiently take advantage of the achievements given by the 4.0 revolution, including the media offered by the Internet of things. Third, learners have to be taught about how to respond to an ever-changing society.

As advice for teachers, some solutions was suggested by the speaker: looking at the 4.0 Industrial Revolution to identify the transformations in their specialized areas to filter the relevant topics that need innovating according to the code of an information society; conducting research projects with students as a way of teaching and learning; and utilizing every medium of the Internet of things to diversify one’s lectures and attract learners.

Many young lecturers participate in and exchange their viewpoints at the conference

“Methods have to follow their respective educational thoughts and philosophies” – that was the view of  Assoc.Prof.Dr Nguyen Van Chinh (Faculty of Anthropology) – “We are standing at a crossroads where the educational model is transformed. This is a rather great challenge posed with regard to teaching methods.” Taking the orientation of a research-based university and a liberal philosophy to education, USSH’s innovation of teaching affairs have to be based on such a philosophy.

Assoc.Prof.Dr Nguyen Van Chinh introduced the method of Project-based learning that he has been conducting in many years and gained some preliminary results. Accordingly, before each class, students register a research topic and teachers will help them realize it. This method helps students gain not only knowledge but also critical thinking skills, data building skills, and problem-solving skills. Many questions arising in real life will be studied and students regularly report their processes at classrooms.

Assoc.Prof.Dr Nguyen Van Chinh

With this method, lecturers have to spend more time and energy interacting with and supporting students. Normally before each session, lecturers send students the research agenda and references. In their first year, students have to read 20-25 pages before each session. In their 3rd-4th years, the number of pages is raised to 50. Each student group develop its own research topic, organize internal debates about the meaning of the topic, and choose where its members will do internships or go on field trips.

After listening to different opinions on the innovation of teaching affairs, Assoc.Prof.Dr Hoang Anh Tuan (USSH’s Vice Rector) said: “I can see unity and consensus among our teachers on the need to innovate teaching methods that the University is naturally aware of, in a context where educational trends, the demands of society and the labor market, learning conditions, and the psychology and needs of learners have all changed dramatically.”

From the perspective of an academic manager, Vice Rector Hoang Anh Tuan emphasized the three basic factors in the process of innovation. One is the human factor – all innovations have to originate from the central role of the Teacher. Teachers today are not only disseminators of knowledge but a multi-tasking and multi-role worker: a guide, a supporter and a sympathizer of students.

The second factor is mechanisms and policies – as a basis for innovation. The University will quickly streamline a general strategy for innovating teaching affairs, with a special emphasis on the development of a synchronous, unified and proper mechanism. The third factor is budgeting. This will be a prioritized affair in this academic year especially and also the next years.

Rector Pham Quang Minh expressed his commitment: “The University will continue to promote innovation and support the innovation of teaching affairs of its staff. The provision of feedback and extension of efforts by USSH’s lecturers, as shown in the multi-faceted and diverse opinions offered at the Conference today make the need for innovating undoubtedly an urgent task.”

“In the end, innovation affairs have to begin with the inspiration of each lecturer. Because every lecturer wants his/her lesson to inspire students. And today I gained the inspiration of innovation not only from senior teachers such as Prof. Vu Duong Ninh and Assoc.Prof. Vu Cao Dam but the young lecturers themselves”.

The Rector said the University will hold more training courses on research and teaching methods and international publication skills for lecturers; further invest in developing websites for teaching subjects; make teaching processes transparent; introduce plagiarism detection software, etc.

Author: Thanh Ha

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