Active Learning to enhance the learning performance of Thai Students

The Thai Education is to the new demand focusing on building “competencies” to prepare students to adjust their abilities to deal with the dynamic changes in today’s society – including the advancement of science and technology. As a result, the traditional teaching and learning method that focuses on measuring learning results from memory no longer responds to these rapid changes. Therefore, all teachers need to create learning activities and teaching strategies that provide students with the needed competencies that help them respond to today’s world. Active Learning focuses on students’ participation and hands-on activities as a core to stimulate learners’ interest and enthusiasm to learn through individual and group work. The role of the teacher in this method is to motivate, advise, and facilitate students learning rather than performing one-way communication and having the students follow.

The Kenan Foundation Asia and the Caterpillar Foundation organized teacher professional development workshops to raise the quality of education for science teachers on Electricity modules 1 and 2, along with Professional Learning Community (PLC) activities – to allow the teachers who attended the workshop to exchange their experience through open class demonstrations. The teachers will also receive advice and close supervision from Kenan’s mentors to improve learning management for Active Learning.

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Nahathai Meebun, a teacher at Ban Sam Yaek Nam Pen School, Rayong Province, attended the workshop. She shared her teaching experiences, “In the past, I studied in the way that teachers taught  only content or theoretical teaching, but this type of teaching method is no longer applicable to students in this era. If we only describe the content, it will distract the attention of the students, and they will become bored and disinterested. Hence, teachers must seek a process to motivate the students “. Teacher Nahathai added that in her teaching style, she usually facilitates the learning process of the students through games or hands-on activities and then explains the concept or provides the answer later. When asked about concerns in regarding to the adequate level of providing theorethical content or the effect of measuring students’ learning performance if they do a lot of activities or play games, she said, “Personally, I am not worried about the content or whether I can teach everything according to the lesson or not. I will plan the lesson in advance by focusing on teaching key concepts of each chapter that the student must understand. In addition, I will incorporate hands-on activities into the lesson to make it more fun and enjoyable”

The Advantages of The Training

Teacher Nahathai shared her experience from partipating in the teacher professional development activities with Kenan, “Kenan’s workshop allows teachers to take on the role of students in the classroom. The advantage is that switching the roles reflects better on teacher’s own teaching and cause teachers to be aware of the right level of content to be covered in the classroom. It encourages us to apply and tailor the practices we learned from the workshop to suit the learning patterns of our students. Regarding Electricity modules 1 and 2, Teacher Nahathai added that “these are beneficial lessons because, in the past, we felt that electricity was difficult and not connected to daily life. However, the trainers  made things we thought difficult more accessible, such as having activities to see damaged electrical equipment. After the workshop, I could apply this activity to the students in the classroom. It turned out that the students liked it very much. They are excited about the activities and have more enthusiasm for learning”.

Teacher Nahathai compared learning with electrical equipment to lectures, saying, “Student’s attention is different. Lecture teaching comprises of only learning from textbooks, along with oral lectures. This method is quite difficult for students to visualize and understand what we teach. Teaching with electrical equipment creates a better atmosphere. Students are more interested in learning because they have to take action through activities.” Teacher Nahathai added that when applying this strategy in the lesson, “Using different teaching methods creates a better classroom atmosphere. Students are interested and want to learn more. They think that teaching like this make the lesson more fun. They understand what we teach and can apply skills in different settings rather than just in a lesson, for example, helping each other assemble a given circuit within the group and even teaching friends from different groups. It turns out that it is not just the students who have learned from the activities, but teachers have also learned the skills and interests of students.”

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Professional Learning Community (PLC)

Teacher Nahathai shared her views on the PLC with Kenan, “In the past, I never looked at what I was teaching. PLC allows other teachers an opportunity to reflect on my teaching, which includes both good aspects and areas that need to be improved. This lets me know where I need to develop, which is better than just teaching, completing the lesson, and not knowing how to improve my teaching. PLCs are good because they do not consume much time to discuss, exchange, and receive advice to improve teaching.”

Teacher Nahathai added an example, “For me; I applied the suggestions about the proper time to  distribute and collect euipment immediately because when teaching is finished, teachers must use the same equipment to continue teaching for the next class. Another issue that speakers from Kenan suggested was in regards to the explanation of the lesson, saying: “The game activities are self-explanatory; therefore, there was no need to explain the concept again. I applied the new teaching technique in the next class, and it turned out that the students understand the concept. It shows that students can learn and possess their understanding through that game.”

Teacher Nahathai gave a quick tip to all science teachers, “Each teacher teaches the same content but differs in teaching techniques. Good teaching is not just about teaching the content perfectly, but about making students want to  learn continuingly. Therefore, teaching techniques or strategies will be an important supplementary tool in stimulating the student’s interest in learning.” If Thai teachers can change their teaching method as shared by teacher Nahathai, it’s not just about to create a variety of teaching styles in Thai classrooms but it can be fun and challenging for teachers to find new teaching styles suitable for their students.

Yot