Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 12-13

Day 12 – Thursday, July 19, 2018

This was a low activity day, well deserved, after a string of high-intensity workshops.  I spent the morning at the hotel making final preparation for the guest lecturing I would be doing tomorrow for a Numerical Methods course.  The afternoon was spent writing the blog entries, and compiling the information, links, and documents I promised to send to the workshop participants.

Day 13 – Friday, July 20, 2018

Today was my most favorite activity day.  I am biased but I love interacting with students.  So the two numerical methods instructors of record in mechanical engineering at UTP were gracious to let me teach two sections of the class this morning.  The classes were 50-minute sessions starting at 10 AM and 11 AM.  About 40-50 students were present in each section and we reviewed the Trapezoidal rule in order to make the case for the Gauss-Legendre quadrature rule.

The definition of quadrature took us to the old saying –“As thy difficult a problem as finding quadrature of a circle”.

I introduced the 1- and 2-pt Gaussian quadrature rule, derived the two rules, and compared it via example with the trapezoidal rule.  Questions of the efficacy of the Gaussian quadrature and trapezoidal rules were asked, and the ever-present relationship of absolute relative approximate error to pre-specified tolerance and significant digits was recalled.  With both sections, we took a class picture. In both of them, they had to say “Approximate” and in the second one, I remembered to ask them to make an approximate sign with their fingers.  I asked them to stay in touch through the numerical methods course by asking questions via the numericalmethodsguy YouTube channel.

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Photo: The two sections of the Numerical Methods class at UTP, Malaysia

My host took me for lunch to an Arabic restaurant on campus.  The food was good – we both had Chicken Biryani coupled with freshly squeezed watermelon juice.

Since the university has a break for Friday prayers from 12:30-2:30 PM, we talked about the differences in the promotion process, his research in welding, medical facilities in the city, departmental research, and opportunities for grant applications for UTP faculty.

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

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Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 11

Day 11 – Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Today, I facilitated the last of the four workshops planned at UTP. This one was on the development of MOOCs and was preceded by their history.

Workshop Title: History and Development of MOOCs 
Workshop Description: In this workshop, participants will learn the best practices for developing a MOOC.  The facilitator has developed three MOOCs on the canvas network and Udemy and will show how these best practices were used to develop one of the MOOCs.  We will go through the content development of video lectures, text, objectives, quizzes, and certifications.

The participants were quite interested in the timeline of the history of MOOCs.  They connected well with the original premise and success of cMOOCs, and how the xMOOCs have evolved/reduced to a vehicle for continuing education for corporations, micro degrees, and online certifications.

 

I demonstrated the platforms options of Udemy, Canvas, and openlearning.org they have access to as individual faculty members.  Malaysia has a nationwide initiative on the development of MOOCs under the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) plan.  Launched in 2015, openlearning.org/Malaysia now has 450 courses and growing.

The Malaysian Qualification Agency is determining ways to certify MOOCs for university course credit.  I raised the question on authentication and equivalency.  For the former, we brought up the ideas from competency-based education, on-campus examinations and use of software such as Proctorio that “is focused on bringing integrity and analytics to online exams.”

Four parts of MOOC development – home page, course information and expectations, the content of modules and assessment were introduced.  Best practices for each of the parts were shared and it was emphasized that they could take these practices to face-to-face classes for a blended and flipped approaches and to fully online courses.

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 10

Day 10 – Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The morning started with a workshop on how to improve cognitive and affective learning gains in student performance.

Workshop Title: How to Increase Cognitive and Affective Learning Gains in Student Performance
Workshop Description: We will discuss several evidence-based strategies to improve student performance and success as they progress through their curriculum.  The use of technology and departmental commitment to accomplish this goal will be illustrated.  Several pedagogies including blended, flipped, and adaptive learning will be discussed.  As has been shown by several studies, affective mode of learning and good teaching are equally important in ensuring student retention and success.  Tools such as discussion of misconceptions, peer-to-peer learning, and universal design for learning to accomplish this will also be discussed.

The workshop went well.  Participants mainly had questions about why the affective mode of learning is important and how to assess such measures.  The part on universal design learning was well received and its simple premise that is connected to learning sciences (what – recognition network, how -strategic network, and why – affective network) was well received.

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Photo: Workshop participants at UTP, Malaysia

We continued our discussion over lunch that was sponsored by UTP CeTAL.

In the afternoon, I caught up with work email and talked to a graduate student about his research on droplet mechanisms in internal combustion engines.

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, #1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 9

Day 9 – Monday, July 16, 2018

On this Monday morning, I facilitated the workshop on the scholarship of teaching and learning.  This is the first time I was conducting a workshop on this topic, although I have been writing educational research methods papers since 2002.

Workshop Title: Scholarship of Teaching and Learning 
Workshop Description: In this workshop, we will discuss the development of a research question, designing the study, implementing the methods, collecting data via surveys and examinations, analyzing the data, and then publishing the results.  We will use examples and reflective exercises to get the participants to generate a pathway to conduct what is called SOTL – scholarship of teaching and learning.

This was a highly interactive workshop as I took the participants through the five steps of SoTL.

  1. Identify the research question
  2. Design the study
  3. Collect the data
  4. Analyze the data and draw conclusions
  5. Present and publish the SoTL project

Worksheets asked them to fill in details and these were followed by an example of our own study of comparing flipped learning with blended learning.  Most of the discussion revolved under how to codify qualitative data and ethical considerations of conducting a study.

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Photo: Participants of the SoTL workshop at UTP, Malaysia

In the afternoon, I co-guided a recitation session in a Numerical Methods class. The topics discussed were numerical integration and differentiation.  I asked some conceptual questions and related them to applied problems.  The instructor of record had given a worksheet to the students, and I and the graduate assistant guided the students through it.  Most questions revolved around the use of trapezoidal rule formulas for discrete data, calculation of relative true errors, relationship to true errors to the number of segments, and order of the accuracy of divided difference formulas.  The tutorial session became an avenue for the graduate assistant, Zuhaib to learn about implementing active learning as well as an opportunity for the students to take ownership of learning.

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Photo: A selfie with graduate assistant Zuhaib.  He went to the same high school I attended in India – yes he graduated 35 years later than I did – but what a small world. 

Back in my room, I ordered room service to try some local Malay food.  I ate Ilham Naluri, which is fried rice with chicken on skewers.  I also had a fruit platter for dessert and some hot tea made with mostly milk.

 

Photo: Left – milk tea made mostly with milk and a generous amount of sugar; Right – fruit platter made with apples, papaya, watermelon and cantaloupe (sauce is a mystery).

I  spent the rest of the evening rereading the book – Make it Stick for tomorrow’s workshop on “How to Increase Cognitive and Affective Gains in Student Performance”.

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Fubright Specialist Diary: Day 7 thru Day 8

Day 7 – Saturday, July 14, 2018

Yes, it is Saturday and it was the day to sleep in.  However, I woke up early, went for a walk around the hotel, and then took a morning nap.  Then in the afternoon, I walked a mile over to Subway for lunch to eat the familiar.   On the way, hawkers were selling fruits including mangosteen and the king of fruits called durian.  Durian is not allowed in hotels as it has a distinctly unpleasant smell for most.

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Photo: A notice in hotel elevator about the durian fruit.

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Photo: The mangosteen fruit – tastes like lychee.

I spent the rest of the afternoon reviewing the back-to-back workshops I was facilitating Monday thru Wednesday.

Day 8 – Sunday, July 15, 2018

I spent the early morning time before that on replying to some work emails and reviewing for the upcoming workshops.  My host invited me for lunch and it included a mango shake, curried shrimp, chicken curry, sambar, rice, and yogurt.  I thanked my host and his spouse for making me feel at home.  My host then took me to the capital city of the state of Perak named Ipoh for a tour. Ipoh is the second biggest city of Malaysia.  Of course, like any other major city, there is a place called Little India.  The place is lined with Indian shops.  We returned to Seri Iskandar for me to take some rest and give some final touches to the Monday’s scholarship of teaching and learning workshop.

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Photo: At Little India, Ipoh, Malaysia (Courtesy: Dr. Srinavasa Rao).

Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 6

Day 6, Friday, July 13, 2018

Today is the last day of the first week of my visit.  I had a free morning and used it to review the upcoming afternoon session on accreditation and curriculum.

In the afternoon, we had a listening and discussion session with the mechanical engineering faculty about accreditation items, mostly on five topics – ethics, continuous quality improvement, lifelong learning, oral and written communication, and teamwork.  We exchanged ideas about these topics on how to implement and evaluate these topics in the classroom.  The idea that although we teach ethics and students may not follow those standards in the university are universal ones.  I believe that we still need to meet the minimum standards of teaching ethics, give examples, and let our students reflect on case studies.

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Photo: A sharing session with the department of mechanical engineering faculty of UTP, Malaysia.

In the evening, there was an after-Eid celebration at the university.  Families of staff and faculty were invited to an evening of music and food.  I tried several different foods including tomato rice, curried chicken, shrimp fritters, and fruit salad with local fruits.  I met several faculty members from other departments and we shared our common interest in improving teaching and hence student learning.  I also met an instructor of Numerical Methods, a course I teach every semester as well.  He was already aware of the open courseware we have developed.

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.

Fulbright Specialist Diary: Day 5

Day 5 – Thursday, July 12, 2018

The day started early as I facilitated a workshop on flipped learning.

Workshop Title: Flipped Learning

Workshop Description: With computers, being affordable, smartphones becoming ubiquitous and internet available at low cost, flipped learning is becoming more popular as pedagogy. Flipped classrooms take the transmission of content from the classroom to home and the assimilation of the content at home to the classroom. In this workshop, we will discuss the differences between traditional, blended and flipped learning, the tools and techniques used to teach a flipped classroom, the challenges and opportunities of teaching a flipped classroom, and the evidence or lack thereof of the effectiveness of flipped classrooms in higher education. The presenter has taught partially- and fully-flipped and blended classes, and will present the personal lessons learned in the process. The audience will be then be engaged in a discussion on how they would teach a flipped class.

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Photo: Participants of the flipped learning workshop.  Taking them through Bloom’s taxonomy without the pyramid and hierarchy. 

UTP is ahead of its times by having CeTAL, a center of excellence for teaching and learning on its campus.  They have a building of their own with several meeting rooms around a circular lobby.  The meeting rooms are set up in a workshop style with tables that are round.  The facilitator can be anywhere in the room and TV displays are set up on all sides.  The layout of the room was impressive and not found in most universities including my own.  There were about 20 participants and they asked highly categorical questions.  They also contributed to the discussion through several reflection exercises and introduced me to tools that I was not aware of – webclicker, etc.

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Photo: CeTAL – the center of excellence of teaching and learning at UTP, Malaysia

The workshop was followed by lunch sponsored by CeTAL UTP.  I talked to several faculty members at the table and they shared how they are using evidence-based practices in the classroom including active learning, flipped classrooms, and metacognition.  I found out that UTP has a part of its annual faculty evaluation index dedicated to the use of evidence-based techniques in teaching courses.  The faculty member has to demonstrate that they have used these techniques through self-reporting and evidence. New faculty members are observed in the classroom so that they can be provided with feedback and suggestions for improving their teaching techniques.

In the afternoon, I concluded the short course on composite materials.  Using only the whiteboard to explain the macromechanics of composite materials resulted in several interactive discussions on the use of principal stresses, the transformation of stresses and use of failure theories.  At the end of the class, we took a group photograph where they are demonstrating cross-ply laminates (plies at zero and ninety-degree angles).

IMG_4035.JPGPhoto: Composites short-course graduate student participants pose for a picture at UTP, Malaysia. The hands depict a cross-ply laminate. 

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This material is based upon work supported by the Fulbright Specialist Grant and the products of the National Science Foundation Grants# 0126793, 0341468, 0717624,  0836981, 0836916, 0836805, 1322586, 1609637.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation or the Fulbright Program.