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Chinese teachers learn important lessons at UK university

By Wang Mingjie in London | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-11-10 00:50

Teamwork, the use of feedback, and creative teaching techniques are among the qualities of the British university education system that a group of teachers from Shanghai have experienced so far on a four-month stay in the United Kingdom.

The delegation of award-winning teachers will be at the University of Hertfordshire until the end of year.

The teachers have already noticed differences between the education systems in China and the UK, such as the tendency of British teachers to prefer students to learn in small groups, instead of in large classes, and their emphasis on assessment and feedback.

Meng Miao, a fashion art lecturer at Shanghai Film Arts Academy, said UK teachers are passionate about their work and direct a great deal of effort toward engaging students and developing innovative and creative teaching approaches.

"For example, in the fashion application course here, the lecturer asks students to watch some fashion exhibitions or visit the Victoria and Albert Museum, to gain some inspiration for sketch drawing and fabric style creation," Meng said.

Classrooms in the UK seem to be more lively, Meng added, noting that the role of teachers is largely about communicating with students and guiding them as they complete independent study.

The Chinese teachers said they did not often use small group study and rarely tasked groups of students to work together on projects.

Ding Lining, a lecturer from the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, said he was impressed with the spirit of teamwork he has seen so far in the UK.

"In the classroom, after the teacher explained the theoretical knowledge, students were required to have a group discussion," Ding said. "Each member of the group was required to express their views, and, finally, they reached an agreement and sent one representative to speak. This kind of teaching method values unity and cooperation, seeking common ground while preserving differences, and, in the end, they finished the task together."

Leo Chivers, principal lecturer and project manager at the Centre for Educational Leadership within the School of Education at the University of Hertfordshire, said he was pleased with the outcome of the international project that started two years ago. Teachers from Shanghai were selected through a competition involving observed teaching and scrutiny of their course design, development, and implementation.

Chivers believes the project shows that universities can learn from each other, and says it encourages international collaboration and understanding.

"We are able to reflect together on observations of practice and find ways to learn from each other's approaches and cultures," he said. "In doing so, we are gaining an enriched understanding of pedagogy, which will help develop students, lecturers, and universities alike in both countries."

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