Clarifying and sharing: The journey to define “best practices” in active learning at a Japanese liberal arts college
In 2014, The Japanese Ministry of Education awarded a five-year grant to Miyazaki International College (MIC) to explore and clarify “best practices” in active learning teaching strategies (ALTSs) at MIC. In so far as the use of ALTSs helps students to develop critical thinking skills, the ministry is invested and committed to promoting active learning methodologies in university classrooms throughout Japan. As one of the first English-medium, liberal arts colleges founded in Japan, and as one that has stressed since its founding the development of critical thinking skills and active learning methodologies, MIC was thought to be an ideal institution for research into active learning and critical thinking skills. Following through on the objectives outlined by the grant, the college’s Active Learning Working Group (ALWG) compiled and defined a list of over thirty Active Learning Teaching Strategies (ALTSs) used at the school. These strategies are essentially the teaching techniques that instructors employ in their classes to engage students in the learning process, encouraging them actively interact with the materials, the instructor, and each other and employ various levels of critical thinking. The list was compiled by researching strategies used at several American universities and through class observations and interviews with teaching faculty at MIC. The ALWG decided to organize the strategies in a logical fashion in hopes of determining how the AL strategies differ from each other, and how much of what kinds of activities are currently being employed at MIC. The group’s efforts resulted in a categorization heuristic that may be of use to other institutions wishing to clarify their educators’ preferred practices for ALTSs. This poster presentation includes a visual of the MIC ALWG matrix (heuristic) and an explanation into how it was developed and what significance it holds.
Presented at International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL) 2017 Conference, Calgary, Alberta