Ministry works to improve college curriculums

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Ministry works to improve college curriculums

Aiming to push professors to place importance on teaching rather than their own research, the Education Ministry is planning to give 30 billion won ($26.4 million) each to the 10 local universities that feature the best teaching methods and curriculums.

The schools will be selected from 200 local four-year universities.

An executive-level official at the ministry added that the schools should apply by the end of the months and that results will be known in April.

The schools will be required to make their class evaluation methods public and will be rated on student opinions of curriculum plans, creative class operations and other factors.

The ministry said after the government set up programs that placed importance on professors’ thesis results, starting with 1999’s “Brain Korea 21,” local university professors’ enthusiasm and competence in conducting daily lectures has declined.

A 22-year-old student attending a four-year university in Seoul, only identified as Kang, said that during the second semester last year, her North Korean studies professor was nowhere to be found when she went to ask questions after lectures.

“The professor basically just read the textbook and gave good grades to students who wrote down the exact same thing that the textbook said on the exams,” Kang said.

Besides student complaints, there have been a number of cases where professors pool their names as “joint authors” on research papers, trying to help each other during evaluations.

Many in the education sector expect the ministry’s support will raise the quality of college curriculums.

“We plan to open curriculum evaluations through our home page,” said Park Jong-hee, dean of academic affairs at the University of Ulsan.

Kim Yeong-sup, head of academic affairs at Handong Global University, said he is looking into opening all the school’s lectures this year through the Internet.

“The problem is that schools give a hefty bonus to professors who write science citation index-level research but don’t even consider those who receive ‘best teacher’ recognitions,” he said.

The Education Ministry said that if their program is a success, it intends to increase the number of schools that receive financial support starting next year.

By Lee Won-jean []

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