Best Practices in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Cambodian Higher Education Institutions

Friday 21 February 2014 21:14:58

Best Practices in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Cambodian Higher Education Institutions

By Gina Lopez

For years, the Royal Government of Cambodia has relentlessly worked toward rebuilding Cambodia from year zero. With its win-win policy in place Cambodia is stable and at peace. For the past two decades Cambodia has enjoyed vibrant economic growth and development. As part of the rectangular strategy, the Royal Government’s long-term strategic vision aims to shift and expand Cambodia from agriculture, garments, and tourism to a broad –based industrial and technology-oriented economy. In one attempt to make this vision a reality, the Directorate General of Higher Education organized the Workshop on “Best Practices in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).”

The Workshop is part of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports’ comprehensive approach to promote STEM in higher education, build quality human resources, and stimulate economic development in the field of science and technology. Three key presenters from the United States, including Dr. Karen Inkelas (Director of Center for Advanced Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education), Dr. David Feldon (Director of STEM Center), and Mr. Christopher Rates (Research Assistant in STEM Education, led discussion to help stimulate dialogue among participants.

The University of Cambodia representatives Ms. Gina Lopez (Associate Dean of the College of Management) and Mr. Teav Chhun Nan (Associate Dean of the College of Science and Technology) joined other universities’ representatives (lecturers, instructors, curriculum developers and management) from across Cambodia, along with MoEYS representatives seeking to improve and encourage students in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

“This event also highlights your commitment in promoting STEM in higher education so that quality human resources can be produced to serve new tend of economic growth and national development,” said Dr. Nith Bunlay (Deputy Director General of Higher Education) in his opening remarks.

Dr. Nith also highlighted challenges faced by higher education institutions (HEIs). “In addition to skill mismatch, Cambodia Higher Education is facing various other challenges in transforming HEIs from instruction-oriented to also research and serviceoriented institutions…university graduates do not possess sufficient soft skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, team building, and communication skills…lack of research funds, the lack of capital to improve learning and teaching facilities and infrastructure, and lack of qualified and experienced faculty are among the main challenges.”

The Workshop objectives were to identify, analyze and adapt a suitable curriculum, materials and other learning tools for STEM in Cambodia HEIs; prepare instructors, lecturers and other people involved in developing and improvement of curriculum and teaching materials for a better learning approach; and to be able to increase the number of enrolment in higher education institutions in Cambodia particularly in STEM.

The five day workshop focused on the following practical sessions:

 

  • Discussion with participants
  • Current Cambodian context
  • Strategies to promote awareness and encouragement of STEM fields to students prior to college
  • Discussion with audience
  • Debunking myths about learning
  • Instructional design
  • Participant activity
  • Developing learning objectives for your course
  • Syllabus construction
  • Utilizing learner-centered approaches
  • Problems with implementation and overcoming barriers
  • Group discussion on STEM Action Plans
  • Reporting on STEM Action Plans

Workshop participants explored trends, challenges, shared experiences, and attempted to find solutions to increase STEM enrolment to help promote Cambodia’s industrial development. Participants discussed, analyzed and agreed to integrate the learning and approaches shared by the speakers in a suitable manner. Participants were expected promote and enhance students’ participation in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in their respected institutions. In addition, participants were expected to assist in linking academic STEM studies to market demand for qualified human resources focused on STEM, in order to enhance Cambodia’s development into the science and technology sector.

At the end of the Workshop MoEYS distributed evaluation forms aimed at helping to assist the HEIs to enhance their capacity to offer better learning. The MoEYS has more workshop and seminars planned to continue the improvement and development process of the HEIs in Cambodia in terms of STEM and other related aspects of education.

 

 

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