Phase II of a joint project between Vanier College and John Abbott College
Teaching methods that get students involved in their studies produce results no matter where the school is located. Wanting to learn about the Cegep approach to student-centered and problem-based learning, a delegation of nine administrators from polytechnic colleges in Tamil Nadu, India, visited Vanier and John Abbott Colleges from September 23 to 30, 2011, as part of Phase 2 of an ongoing project. During Phase 1 of the project, Kevin Lenton of the Vanier Physics Department and John Abbott College representatives travelled to India last spring to share their teaching practices with teachers there.
Visits to classrooms
At Vanier, Rhys Adams of the Physics Department spoke to the delegation on engagement in the teaching and learning of physics while Louise Robinson and Patrick Bouwman gave them a tour of the Industrial Electronics facilities, shared teaching materials with them and invited the visitors to speak with students and observe their lab work. The delegation also sat in on English, Math and Chemistry classes and visited the Building Systems and Engineering Technology department.
A glimpse of some of Vanier’s support services
The visitors then visited the Learning Center, the Math and Science Center and Student Services in order to understand the tutoring and support systems Vanier offers students. As well they met with Wilma Brown of the Pedagogical Office and Kevin Lenton to explore their perspectives on the Vanier Experience the teaching methods they saw used in the college.
Peer tutoring and problem-based learning
According to Joshua Raj Mohan of the V. Ramakrishna Polytechnic, the delegation was particularly impressed with the peer tutoring that takes place among students and the problem-based learning exercises that engage students in their work. They were also struck by the comfortable exchanges and relations that students have with their teachers.
Valuable tools for Tamil Nadu polytechnic teachers
“We are confident that many things we observed at Vanier College could be replicated in our polytechnic education system,” states Sabapathy Krishnasawamy. “Problem-based learning and peer instruction are effective tools to make the students thoroughly understand the concepts of engineering problems and to think creatively to find solutions for field application. We have already prepared an action plan to implement the concepts in our polytechnic education system.”
Vanier College benefits from the visit
Vanier College benefited from the delegation’s visit, according to Judy Macdonald, Coordinator of International Education. “We were able to showcase our student-centered approaches and work with our enthusiastic and positive partners. Everyone appreciated the opportunities for exchange.”
Phase III next winter
Phase III of the project will see another group of John Abbott and Vanier teachers off to Tamil Nadu next winter to follow-up on the implementation of ideas learned here in Montreal.