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    by: Farouk

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    1 : Presented at the 3rd Liberal Arts Conference, American University of Kuwait, Salmiya, State of Kuwait May 11, 2008 SELF-EXPRESSION ASSIGNMENT (SEA) AS A NOVEL TEACHING APPROACH IN A LIBERAL ARTS-TYPE ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT Farouk El-Sabban Department of Family Sciences, College for Women, Kuwait University, P.O. Box 5969 - Safat 13060, State of Kuwait
    2 : INTRODUCTION (1) Educational processes at institutions of higher learning are dynamic Educators strive to excel in their chosen profession Traditional teaching methods are sound and practiced satisfactorily However, there is a need to develop new approaches
    3 : Academic programs make some courses compulsory Such courses are most likely introductory in nature Students may feel that these courses are irrelevant or a burden This feeling may not make students develop a real interest in them Educators take initiatives in developing new teaching approaches to fulfill the learning objectives INTRODUCTION (2)
    4 : The self-expression assignment (SEA) is a new teaching approach It is more suited for introductory-type courses – some of which are compulsory SEA could enhance interest of students in these courses INTRODUCTION (3)
    5 : Developed based on circumstances at the College for Women (CFW), Kuwait University The SEA allows students to exercise freedom in learning Students choose topics among those covered in a course Students produce their finished projects within a set deadline The SEA is carried out with minimal involvement from the course instructor THE IDEA OF SEA
    6 : DEVELOPMENT OF THE SEA The idea of SEA was conceived and developed based on several factors: The overall college environment Students - as recipients of teaching The nature and level of courses being taught
    7 : THE COLLEGE ENVIRONMENT (1) The College for Women (CFW) is new among all colleges of Kuwait University It started offering courses in September 2003 and consisted of 4 departments at that time Currently, CFW consists of 5 diverse departments: Department of Arts and Design Department of Communication Disorders and Languages Department of Environment Technology Management Department of Family Sciences Department of Information Science
    8 : THE COLLEGE ENVIRONMENT (2) Students currently receive undergraduate education only They can major in any of the diverse disciplines at CFW The curricula at CFW follow the outcome-based learning system The language of instruction at CFW is English
    9 : STUDENTS AND CLASSES Students at CFW are all females - most are high school graduates Governmental pre-college educational system in Kuwait is done in Arabic Some students may have had previous exposure to instruction in English Upon admission, students must pass a number of English language courses On average, students start this stage of their education at about 18 years of age
    10 : OFFERED COURSES A wide spectrum of courses is offered at CFW All courses at the 100 level are known as the General College Education Domain These courses are at the introductory level Average class size is 20, but is increasing over time Some classes have 30 students in some compulsory courses
    11 : IMPLEMENTATION OF THE SEA The SEA has been implemented in 3 courses: FSC 104 (The Human Body - basic human anatomy and physiology) FSC 110 (Introduction to Human Nutrition and Food Science) CFW 104 (Biology) Total number of student enrollment in these 3 courses was 119 All of the above courses were taught by one instructor, the presenter of this paper
    12 : THE SEA WRITEUP (1) A write up about the SEA was incorporated in each course syllabus Each student was provided with a list of relevant topics – to choose one only Students were informed that this assignment is of a self-expression style, in which students produce a variety of work, for example: Make a model Prepare a poster Produce an educational material for the public…etc.
    13 : THE SEA WRITEUP (2) Students were told that this SEA is for each to interact freely with the chosen topic Deadlines were given for informing the instructor of the chosen topics and for the submission of their completed assignments Students were informed of the percentage weight of their SEA marks towards the final grade for the course - usually 20% It was also conveyed to students that it is possible to exhibit their finished projects in a special event at CFW
    14 : THE SEA TOPIC LISTS An extensive list of topics was given in each of the 3 courses Topics were relevant to the course being taught Topics were broad – to report on a particular aspect Students were invited to suggest topics of their own Some students contributed to existing topics Once topics are chosen by students, everyone is committed
    15 : PRODUCTS OF THE SEA (1) Students have varied academic interests, personal talents and ambition It is not surprising that most students excelled in producing their finished projects A beautiful array of projects resulted from the SEA’S It was felt that students handed in their completed work with a sense of pride
    16 : PRODUCTS OF THE SEA (2) Completed projects included: Traditional written reports Models - some with moving and flashing lights Posters Oil paintings Video clips PowerPoint and oral presentations Computer-generated designs Educational leaflets and booklets for children Information leaflets for the public Hand drawings
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    25 : HANDLING OF PROJECTS (1- Display) Completed assignments were displayed in a visible area of the department for fellow students, faculty, visitors and passers-by to see In most cases, comments made were very positive and some offered constructive criticism These comments were made verbally All comments were appreciated
    26 : HANDLING OF PROJECTS (2- Grading) The course instructor graded the traditional written reports, according to a rubric that has been approved by CFW Assessment of oral presentations was done by all students and the course instructor, according to another rubric approved by CFW For all other types of assignments, a number of fellow colleagues (2-4) volunteered to be project evaluators Scores from evaluators and of the course instructor were incorporated into the overall mark
    27 : HANDLING OF THE SEA PROJECTS (3- Grading) Volunteers were briefed on the grading criteria, knowingly that a project was to reflect creativity and innovation in addition to its educational/scientific aspect Volunteers were asked to be mindful that these young students have shown a serious commitment to their projects A simple rubric was devised in which the following were included: Creativity: 75% Educational/scientific content: 15% Quality of the finished product: 10%
    28 : FATE OF THE SEA PROJECTS Students are informed that when grading of their projects is completed, each student may pick up her assignment – most students do so Students may display their projects and discuss them with attendees during student-activity and College events In all cases, projects were documented: Written-type assignments were saved electronically The rest (models, paintings, posters…etc.) were photographed These records were incorporated in appropriate course files
    29 : STUDENT ASSESSMENT OF THE SEA (1- QUESTIONNAIRE) A questionnaire containing 10 statements was devised Complete responses were obtained from 109 students, out of a possible total of 119 All students who were located responded, i.e., 100% response rate The main purpose of this survey was to learn about the level of acceptance of the SEA by students
    30 : STUDENT ASSESSMENT OF THE SEA (2- RESULTS) The overall assessment by students showed a favorable percentage rating of 87.1+7.0 – with 9.5+5.7 undecided and 3.4+2.9 disagreeing Thus, it can be concluded that the majority of students has accepted the SEA Students felt that it has stimulated their interest in subject matters and enhanced their learning in-depth about chosen topics
    31 : STUDENT COMMENTS ON THE SEA (1) A total of 27 comments were obtained, which represented 24.8% of total responses Two comments praised the course instructor Five comments of thanks Raise the grade of the assignment (3 comments)
    32 : STUDENT COMMENTS ON THE SEA (2) Representative direct quotes of the remaining 17 comments were: Every course must have like these assignments to make students have more knowledge and use their creativity I have enjoyed doing this project and feel very proud of my work I liked the idea of the assignment. It taught me to be a self-learner and convey my information in my own creative way This assignment helped in bringing the artistic skill to meet the science and made it more fun to me It was also interesting because it was not purely scientific. It involved imagination and self expression
    33 : ADVANTAGES OF IMPLEMENTING THE SEA (1) Expressed views about advantages of the SEA are those as perceived by the course instructor and as supported by the student assessment and comments Advantages of the SEA are both: Educational (knowledge gained) Developmental (including creativity and commitment) Both of the above are significant aspects of higher education
    34 : ADVANTAGES OF IMPLEMENTING THE SEA (2) Advantages of the SEA can be summarized as follows: Freedom to choose a topic. This involves self-learning (introductory search for information) which aids in deciding on a topic Stimulation of student’s thinking about the chosen topic and development of sense of responsibility to execute one’s own project Learning more in-depth information about the chosen topic. Searching for information is essential to come up with an executable idea of the assignment in a creative and innovative fashion and it is a necessity to report the scientific content
    35 : ADVANTAGES OF IMPLEMENTING THE SEA (3) Freedom in producing a “finished product” of own. This may give the student the chance to “discover” talents that were not apparent or recognized earlier Development of the sense of pride in handing in the completed assignment and when seen by fellow students or exhibited in college-wide events Development of a sense of commitment through deciding on a topic, handling the assignment and submitting a finished product For those who elect to make an oral presentation of their topics, it is a chance towards developing skills for public speaking Having the opportunity to learn from finished projects of other students
    36 : CONCLUDING REMARKS The overall response to this method of teaching and in motivating students to learn has been very positive Students felt comfortable about this assignment, felt that they had the opportunity to learn about chosen topics on their own and at their own pace The level of motivation and willingness to be a self-learner on the part of students has been very satisfactory The magnitude of commitment exhibited by students is a great benefit towards their personal and professional development The SEA component is very suitable and compatible with introductory-level courses The SEA may be implemented in courses of different disciplines
    37 : SELF-EXPRESSION ASSIGNMENT Thanks for Listening Any Questions?

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