Chinese instructors travel to FHSU to observe classroom practices

Continuing the tradition of international outreach, Fort Hays State University welcomed the arrival of two instructors from SIAS University (sea-AHSS), in the People's Republic of China, to the FHSU campus on Aug. 22.

Dongmin Wang (doh-ming WONG), instructor of several business courses at the Business School of Zhengzhou University (zaings how), an extension of SIAS University, is one of two instructors visiting FHSU to observe the western style of teaching in classes. He said that Dongmin, his family name, is given before his first name in English out of respect for his family. When in China, his last name follows his first, like English names.

While in the United States, Dongmin chose the American name "Jefferson," after the third president. He said that he admires what Jefferson accomplished and strives to achieve the same.

"One can learn a lot of outstanding qualities of this late leader. He's the apostle of Americanism and a very accomplished scholar. I hope that he is an example for not only me, but the modern youth to follow," Dongmin said.

Ning Jian-xin (ning JOHN-see), associate professor of strategic management and competitive strategy at Zhengzhou University, chose the American name "Johnson," since it resembled the pronunciation of his full name in Chinese.

While at FHSU, the two professors hope to learn enough about the western teaching style so they can implement it into their classrooms in China, encouraging two-way communication, an important element in obtaining a bachelor's degree.

"By observing classes, we know more information about and learn how to communicate," Ning said. "How teachers here teach students and organize classes is different than in China."

"Many teachers in SIAS give traditional style," Dongmin said. "They give tests, read and lecture to the class. American teachers are accustomed to two-way communication and are used to taking questions."

"It is quite different in China," Ning said. "Teachers organize in a traditional way, which is not open enough for everyone. There is only one voice in the class, and that is the teacher always talking. Sometimes students don't want to ask questions. Sometimes the teachers are too lazy to ask questions. Students use their eyes to stare at the front respectfully and learn something serious. Teachers are the ones to open students' mouths."

The two said they noticed that students in the United States play a more active role in their educational experience and seem to feel more comfortable in the classroom setting.

"In the United States, the students are more interactive," Dongmin said. "The classroom relationship is more of a team, and the teacher is the coach."

Dongmin said that he will also visit Washington University and the University of Kansas for two weeks to observe their teaching styles, tour their campuses and possibly arrange a partnership with SIAS University.

Dongmin also said that he and Dr. Shawn Chen, chairman of the board at SIAS University, keep in constant communication over the phone. Dongmin said that Chen is very interested in establishing a more international program at SIAS. By offering an international master's degree, SIAS would give many American students a chance to study abroad at a school in China.

"Students could go to SIAS in the future," Ning said. "Some students can go there for international culture. Lots of students will be active to receive a different educational experience."

Dongmin said it is important for SIAS instructors to first learn a more open form of teaching that will appeal to international students before an exchange program is established. He said that not only would this provide a unique educational opportunity to students, it would also allow SIAS to become an international university of education.

"In order to compete with other countries, you must have a battlefield with the same wit," he said.

Dongmin said that FHSU opened many doors by offering international access to an MBA through the Virtual College.

"The Virtual College offers an advantage with the advanced educational technology," he said. "FHSU did a very good job in this respect. It extended its educational service across the globe."

"Another advantage for Fort Hays is the tuition fee is rather affordable," he continued. "This is very import for the success of this program. Potential international students find expenses very daunting, so affordability is really important. FHSU has an advantage since their rates are rather low. It is the best buy."

The two instructors, who will stay in the country until the end of December, said that they are enjoying their time in the United States and at Fort Hays State University.

"My experience here is quite OK," Ning said. "It is a very good place. Everyone is so kind. There is also very good responsibility for what happens. Everything is in order."

"FHSU is a positive reflection of American university life," Dongmin said.

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