Student Centered Learning – Thailand

A Centre for Education Reform in Thailand

Teacher Training


” If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”  Derek Bok
October 16 , 2012  :

This is the right way to conduct a student centered learning high school English class!


Teddy’s Story :  Teddy’s Story may make you cry, but it’s worth it.  If this story

doesn’t convince you how much of a difference you as a teacher can make , nothing will!

Making Inferences   :Sixth grade teacher shows how to lead students to really learn using a Socratic method
Confessions of a Harvard physics professor in switching his teaching methods to be student centered learning oriented
 Eric Mazur: “I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorizing information rather than learning to understand the material. Who was to blame? The students? The material? I will explain how I came to the agonizing conclusion that the culprit was neither of these. It was my teaching that caused students to fail! I will show how I have adjusted my approach to teaching and how it has improved my students’ performance significantly.” Eric Mazur is the Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University.
The Syllabus below is a draft teaching plan for a course intended for graduate students of education.  It is included here to provide an attempt to use student centered learning methods in training teachers.  The hope is that the teachers in the class will in turn use these techniques and assessments in their own classrooms.

Syllabus /Curriculum for Education Research and Analysis using English Course Purpose and Description

Reading and writing in English and Thai in the field of  education. Using English to research educational topics will be emphasized. English and Thai language will be used to make  an analysis of important topics in educational management and instruction  using appropriate research methods.

School’s translation:  “English vocabulary and structure for communication in official and academic contexts, reading techniques, reading and writing for special purposes.”

Anticipated Capacity Development Outputs *Ability to organize and use a reflective journal written in English and Thai(this is a daily collection of the the daily learning of the student including daily activities, new English vocabulary; mind maps, précis, web sites that are useful to the student as teacher, and all projects and exercises.

*Ability to develop, negotiate and use a leaning contract

* Ability to write a précis about the influence of educators, philosophers and psychologists the student feels are important for their work after researching the works of influential educators *Ability to use the internet in order to conduct basic educational research and to identify useful Educational websites *Experience in collaborative project learning using project planning tools include mind mapping *Ability to conduct a situational analysis of education in Thailand currently researching facts and figures in both Thai and English and coming to conclusion in an essay in both Thai and English *Understand the objectives of the Ministry of Education both in terms of the National Education Act of 1999 and the current updated policy of the MOE, particularly in the area of student centered learning ___________________________________________________________________________________ Activities:1. Detailed discussion of all the requirements and expected results of the course including but not limited to:  reflective journals, learning contracts, oral presentations, collaborative learning projects, and individual research and project presentations`.   Forms for the reflective journal and learning contracts will be designed with the graduate students in a collaborative effort using mind mapping.  Thus the first learning tool to be investigated will be mind mapping and its uses in education.

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2.  Group discussion of Students particular interests in education with a result that each student will choose a particular topic to focus on and do research in, both in English and Thai.  After researching the general topic the student will choose a specific topic to develop a project which will result in an oral presentation using power point or other display presentation materials written in English and Thai ( at least half in English} at a length of 20 minutes to be presented in class.  This project will be part of the learner’s contract. If possible each student’s oral presentation in English predominantly will be filmed.  In a private session with each student the film will be reviewed and critiqued with the professor in order to point out ways to improve presentation and to involve his/her audience and to raise the interest level of those in the classroom. 3.  Instruction and discussion on writing a précis and doing the research for a précis on outstanding educators and their influence.  Included will be a review of basic grammar rules and rhetoric. The importance of topic sentences and linking adverbs will be stressed.  Students will refer to  : The précis will be followed by the students’ appraisals of what elements in a particular educators methods and philosophy could be applied to the Thai classroom and how.  ( using constructivist theory as a basis for this latter exercises and the exercises that follow) 4.  Instruction and discussion of writing an argument and persuasion essay in English Aid in writing in English an argument and persuasion essay using topics revolving around student interests revolving around teaching and administration. 5. Discussion on how to go about making an educational situational analysis of Thai education using research tools both in English and Thai.  This will be followed by a mind mapping exercise and then an outline of what each student would like to include in their particular analysis. Among the questions to be researched will be: what did PM Abisit say about Thai education in April of 2011?  What are the results of the O-Net exams?  What teaching methods are predominant in Thailand?  What is the philosophy of education that most educators subscribe to?  What is the influence of Buddhism on education in Thailand? What makes a good teacher in Thailand?  What is the culture of Thai students in the classroom?  How well are Thai students prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century?  What are those challenges?  What do educators have to do to prepare Thai youth to compete with the rest of the world?  What kind of person does the Thai society want its students to become when they reach adulthood?  What will their values be?  What will their skill set be?  How adept will graduates of Thai public schools be at solving problems , thinking for themselves? 6. Researching web sites that best fit the needs of teachers and administrators.   Graduate students will choose areas of expertise they wish to concentrate on in education and then search and critique best URL sites.  Research will also be conducted to discover best web sites teachers and administrators can use that show “best practices.”  Each graduate student will choose his/her  8 best sites and write a one paragraph critique of each site in both English and Thai. 7.  In a collaborative effort of teams of 6 , graduate students will pick the three top URL sites showing best teaching practices or best tool for teachers and students.  Each team will then make an illustrated presentation of the best site out of the three chosen. 8. Watch the films , Stand and Deliver( Jaime Escalante) Lean on Me (Morgan Freeman) Renaissance Man( Danny DeVito) and Dangerous Minds and discuss the films in the context of Thai rural and urban public school students.  Graduate students will break into teams of 8 and discuss and list lessons learned from the films. Each student will enter their own comments and learning in their reflective journals. 9.  Letters of opinion , one in English and one in Thai  will be written for publication in Thai or English newspapers in Thailand giving the graduate student’s opinion on an aspect of education in Thailand.  These letters will be submitted to newspapers and magazines the student selects.  Publication of a student’s letter will provide some extra credit. ___________________________________________________________________________________ ASSESSMENT /FINAL GRADEThe final assessment and grade of each student will be on the basis of her/his performance as indicated in the following :

  1. Quality and accuracy of the English/Thai reflective journal keep throughout the course period and containing all activities and learning (25%)
  2. Achievement level in fulfilling the learning contract (25%)
  3. Collaborative project performance , including demonstrated ability to work in a group and make important contributions to the project  (10%)
  4. Individual project  and ability to work in both written and oral English(10%)
  5. Ability to select and describe useful educational websites (10%)
  6. Ability to research and  write a précis on educational thinkers (10%)
  7. Class contributions and progress in English language usage as evident in presentation and writings(10%)

Some notes for graduate students: I suggest you all get Gmail accounts so we can use Google documents  and other Google resources in collaboration.         ___________________________________________________________________________________   TOPICS FOR DISCUSSION: I.     Brain-based Learning Definition This learning theory is based on the structure and function of the brain. As long as the brain is not prohibited from fulfilling its normal processes, learning will occur. Discussion People often say that everyone can learn. Yet the reality is that everyone doeslearn. Every person is born with a brain that functions as an immensely powerful processor. Traditional schooling, however, often inhibits learning by discouraging, ignoring, or punishing the brain’s natural learning processes. The core principles of brain-based learning state that:

  1. The brain is a parallel processor, meaning it can perform several activities at once, like tasting and smelling.
  2. Learning engages the whole physiology.
  3. The search for meaning is innate.
  4. The search for meaning comes through patterning.
  5. Emotions are critical to patterning.
  6. The brain processes wholes and parts simultaneously.
  7. Learning involves both focused attention and peripheral perception.
  8. Learning involves both conscious and unconscious processes.
  9. We have two types of memory: spatial and rote.
  10. We understand best when facts are embedded in natural, spatial memory.
  11. Learning is enhanced by challenge and inhibited by threat.
  12. Each brain is unique.

The three instructional techniques associated with brain-based learning are:

  1. Orchestrated immersion–Creating learning environments that fully immerse students in an educational experience
  2. Relaxed alertness–Trying to eliminate fear in learners, while maintaining a highly challenging environment
  3. Active processing–Allowing the learner to consolidate and internalize information by actively processing it

How Brain-Based Learning Impacts Education Curriculum–Teachers must design learning around student interests and make learning contextual. Instruction–Educators let students learn in teams and use peripheral learning. Teachers structure learning around real problems, encouraging students to also learn in settings outside the classroom and the school building. Assessment–Since all students are learning, their assessment should allow them to understand their own learning styles and preferences. This way, students monitor and enhance their own learning process. What Brain-Based Learning Suggests How the brain works has a significant impact on what kinds of learning activities are most effective. Educators need to help students have appropriate experiences and capitalize on those experiences. As Renate Caine illustrates on p. 113 of her book Making Connections, three interactive elements are essential to this process:

  • Teachers must immerse learners in complex, interactive experiences that are both rich and real. One excellent example is immersing students in a foreign culture to teach them a second language. Educators must take advantage of the brain’s ability to parallel process.
  • Students must have a personally meaningful challenge. Such challenges stimulate a student’s mind to the desired state of alertness.
  • In order for a student to gain insight about a problem, there must be intensive analysis of the different ways to approach it, and about learning in general. This is what’s known as the “active processing of experience.”

A few other tenets of brain-based learning include: Feedback is best when it comes from reality, rather than from an authority figure. People learn best when solving realistic problems. The big picture can’t be separated from the details. Because every brain is different, educators should allow learners to customize their own environments. The best problem solvers are those that laugh! Designers of educational tools must be artisticin their creation of brain-friendly environments. Instructors need to realize that the best way to learn is not through lecture, but by participation in realistic environments that let learners try new things safely

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