중앙데일리

Teaching style offers fresh approach

Educators embrace action learning to give students more control

Oct 10,2015
Keimyung University students studying music production gather together for their Music Production: Capstone Design class last month. At their performance venues, students are tasked with preparing, planning and producing a show that would entice a potential target audience. By Gong Jeong-sik
Kim Chang-wan, a professor at Keimyung University in Daegu, decided last year to take steps to make his class, Strategic Management of Technology, more active and hands-on.

So he gave his students a list of small and midsize companies and asked them to propose product marketing plans for one business on the list.

This approach, known as action learning, is a type of education method in which students learn independently through their own experiences. Starting from choosing their own topics, they then find the answers to their questions set in the beginning.

Action Learning differs from the one-way style of education in Korea, in which many professors simply present lectures and students memorize the content, only to forget it once exams are finished. Although this approach is similar to the methodology used in group projects, it’s different in that it allows students to learn from actions and experiments conducted in the field.

One team in Kim’s class visited a company that manufactures adult diapers and advised that the business appeal to its target consumers by focusing on winning them over rather than simply listing the product’s advantages.

The team also proposed the company decrease the size and volume of the diaper and enhance its design.

“After hearing what the company’s representatives consider most in making their products, we could suggest the solutions,” said Shin Yong-min, a team member. “What I learned and experienced from the class was very helpful for me this June in starting up an app solution company that develops applications.”

The basis of action learning is that students can learn through problem-solving and completing tasks based on participation among all students.

But many educators tout its biggest merit as being that it allows students to solve real-life problems and enhances their level of learning and satisfaction.

Faculty in the Department of Music Production at Keimyung University also use an action learning approach. On a morning in mid-September, 30 music production students sat inside a lecture room and divided into six groups according to their specialties ? composition, percussion or string instruments, for instance.

“You should plan for whom and what kind of performance you would like to give by visiting your performance venues,” the professor, Lee Esther, said, which caused murmurs among the crowd.

In former Music Production: Capstone Design classes, students only gave performances under the guidance of professors.

But this year, Lee decided to teach her students how to organize a performance based on target audience. After choosing a consumer group, students may begin planning what sort of performance they would like to present.

“The target groups will then evaluate the performance and will score students according to their level of satisfaction with the performance,” Lee said.

Jin Kyu-dong, a professor in the Department of Creative Human Resources Development at Incheon National University, also introduced action learning in his class, Developing Lifelong Education.

He divided his students into seven groups and asked them to develop a lifelong education program. Students had to come up with an original idea and choose a target audience.

“In the past, professors used to explain how to develop a program based on textbooks,” Jin said. “But now, students can learn teamwork skills in the process of applying theories to the field.”

Professor Bong Hyeon-cheol, a professor at Chonbuk National University who founded the Korean Action Learning Associates in 2005, first applied action learning in the business field.

“Action learning was first created to resist corporate culture, which was so far removed from existing problems in the business field in the past,” Bong said.

“The learning method spread to businesses in Korea in the early 1990s and was effective in executive management training sessions. In the late 2000s it began to spread in the education sector and universities.”

Dr. Kim Hyeong-suk, a member of Korean Action Learning Associates, added: “Despite action learning being a kind of philosophy, it can still be achieved in the real world.”

Ice-breaking activities, the use of Post-It notes and self-examination according to a learn-feel-do sequence are just some of the ways action learning can be applied.

Ice-breaking activities are meant to soothe discomfort and unfamiliarity among team members before a class or activity, while Post-It notes are a useful vehicle for team members to express their opinions.

The learn-feel-do sequence, on the other hand, is a self-examination method that lets students reflect on what they have learned, felt and achieved in each phase of problem-solving.

Action learning has also been introduced in some middle and high schools in Korea. Kim Ji-won, who teaches English at Jangsan Middle School in Busan, asked her third-graders to determine the dangers of smoking and the reasons why people do it.

For the assignment, students separated into groups and visited cessation clinics, cigar stores and smoking zones in cafes to conduct research. They then recorded in English what they had learned and experienced as well as possible solutions to the issue.

“Because third-grade middle school students are at that age where they may be easily pressured or tempted to smoke, I wanted them to be able to recognize the danger of smoking through completing this assignment,” Kim said.

“Now I’m thinking about ways I can further apply action learning in middle school classes.”

BY NOH JIN-HO [koo.yurim@joongang.co.kr]


dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장