During three days in July (18-20), staff from the University of Westminster Business School facilitated an intensive 3-day residential teacher training course at the University of Ningxia, Yinchuan, China. The course was commissioned by the Chinese Service Centre for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE) for academics in China delivering HND-SQA courses in Business Studies. The course was designed and facilitated by Professor Barbara Allan, Dean of WBS, and Dr Steven Cranfield, Department of Leadership Development & Westminster Exchange.

 

Over forty invited delegates took part, drawn from various regions of China, together with a small number of post-doctoral students from Ningxia University.

 

Post-doctoral students from Ningxia University

 

Delegates explored a range of theoretical and practical topics, including the design of learning and teaching sessions, engaging students in large groups, evaluating case studies, assessment and feedback, learning styles, and using technology to enhance learning. A short video clip from one of the sessions gives a flavour of proceedings

 

As the clip shows, this was no course in one-way delivery of content from experts to novices: much genuine dialogue and sharing took place both between delegates and between delegates and facilitators.

The course also highlighted the importance of academic and critical thinking skills and discussed a range of realistic strategies for preparing students in China for study in the UK. Delegates worked energetically and creatively, responding with amazing élan to a range of interactive learning methods. We were impressed by the dedication and the reflective, conscientious approach that delegates brought to their teaching and their willingness to embrace new ideas – and to quiz us on the evidence for these.

One of the highlights of an eventful three days was Barbara’s experiential activity using a luscious Chinese apple to demonstrate the meaning of SMART objectives: seldom can the topic of learning outcomes have raised so much excited interest!

The administration for the event was faultless and our Ningxia hosts, as well as staff from CSCSE and the Westminster China office in Beijing, worked tirelessly to ensure everything ran smoothly. A memorable course was complemented by a visit to the local Xi Xia Mausoleum, the ‘pyramids of the East’ (see photo), and a day trip with delegates to the Shapotou national park, a desert region by the edge of the mighty Yellow River, where we rode camels across the dunes and were rowed down river on four-seater rafts borne aloft by inflated sheep skins. We left China having made many links of personal as well as professional friendship.

 

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