What is the project about?
This project which has been conducted since the second semester of 2016 by The Education Advancement Center is part of a plan designed to strengthen the proficiency of professors. The purpose lies in creating an environment where professors and students collaborate to create good classes. In total, 85 professors took part in this program. HUFS plans to support this program again in 2019.
As the new semester begins, students hope to take good classes. HUFS is presently working on a project aimed at creating a good class culture to give students a mutually desirable education.
Through an interview with professor Ha Jeoung-min, who participated in this project to improve class quality in 2018, The Argus hopes to share the educational value of professor Ha, who strives to lead “fair education” in our society.
The Argus: Please introduce yourself.
Ha Jeoung-min (Ha): I am Ha Jeoung-min, adjunct professor at College of Japanese. I led a “J-POP Japanese” lecture in the project.
The Argus: Please tell us more about your lecture “J-POP Japanese.”
Ha: This lecture treats J-pop as an in-class subject, aiming for access to J-pop and Japanese culture. Furthermore, since the course is part of a practical foreign language liberal arts course, a major goal of the course is to promote a more natural motivation for learning Japanese.
At the beginning of the class, students review a simple role play from the prior class, followed by an easy task listening to some J-pop songs. After that, group activities proceed like matching words and filling blanks in lyrics with their partners while listening to music.
Then, I check the answers and introduce colloquial information and grammar of the songs. The reason why I do not teach grammar from the beginning is that teaching grammar has a stronger impact on learning when I let students grasp things on their own.
At the end of the class, we take time to sing together the song we learned from that day.
The Argus: What made you participate in this project?
Ha: For a long time, there has been a desire to teach students with better programs. For that, through my past experiences of studying in Japan and working as a teaching assistant in the United States, I could learn how to improve students’ participation and develop a student-centered teaching method. The project on which HUFS is working has become interesting to me. Through the project, I thought that not only can I provide better lectures to students, but also improve the quality of lectures through students’ feedback.
The Argus: What are the steps responsible for leading a good class?
Ha: First, I try to memorize the student’s names. Memorizing names makes them feel closer to each other and their professors, which makes them more likely to participate in classes.
Second is group activities. Group activities are the key to my class. Through grouping, students are more intimate with each other and the atmosphere of the class is more lively than that of the typical lecture. In addition, an atmosphere where students do not fear mistakes can be formed, so the opinions they offer can be more diverse.
Third, I post lecture materials not before, but after class. If classroom materials are handed out in the e-class prior to the class, some students may research some words and lessons in advance. This is what classes cover, though, so they can feel bored or lose their concentration in the actual class. If possible, I hope that students can concentrate more on class itself.
Fourth, the lecture is conducted to reflect the opinions of the students. Three times a semester, students are asked to learn songs they want, and among them, I choose the songs that are well-structured or adaptable for students to learn. It is like a music cafe that receives an application song. This seems to play a big role in creating classes with students, boosting their motivation.
Finally, through giving two separate surveys, I can understand students’ attitudes and thoughts, and flexibly adjust the direction of class. At the orientation, I ask about their favorite Japanese songs and singers, and whether they are experienced in Japanese or not. That way, I recognize what kind of students are participating. Also, because group activities are required a lot in this class, the preference of group activities is investigated at the orientation.
After the midterm exam, I go through the survey one more time, asking for the overall opinion of the class and grasping the flow of the class. Also, it includes asking if class activities with the group was helpful. I can identify friends who do not want to participate in group activities, and permit them to work autonomously.
The Argus: Have there been any memorable events during “J-POP Japanese” class?
Ha: There was one very memorable class in which the atmosphere was unusually good. Before the class, all of the students hung out and sang songs. The students and I had a more intimate and enjoyable lecture because of this active atmosphere. About two students from this lecture at separate times came to audit it later. Although the class could handle the same content, the students said that they had fun in class so they only asked me to allow them to take that class again. Fortunately, there was room, so they could audit the class.
The Argus: How different are the students and you now, compared to the beginning of the project?
Ha: Initially, students took a passive attitude at the beginning of the lecture, but they became more active in class over time. Especially, 20 percent of students, who were uncomfortable with group activities until the midterm exam, became more naturally involved with group activities as the class continued.
There has also been a change in me. I tried to listen more to the students. Through feedback from students, I was able to check and improve my teaching methods. In addition, I became more interested in pedagogy. Although the professor’s duty is to convey knowledge, another role is that of helping students to cultivate social skills for them to get along well with others after schooling. In order to fulfill this professors’ roles, I try to learn more about various educational methods.
The Argus: Do you have any regrets about working on this project?
Ha: As well as this program, what has always been a concern is how to best reduce the gap of various students’ language abilities. New learners are often left behind by students who are good at Japanese. It is a pity to face these moments. I will try to introduce a fairer way in assessing students.
The Argus: How do you plan to resolve the regret mentioned above this semester?
Ha: To solve the regret, I will set the participation criteria of the final grade at 30 percent. To prevent students who do not know the language from feeling pressured, I will make a fairer course evaluation system by seeing how attentive students are. For example, one assignment is to write down the lyrics students learned in a notebook. Just by writing, I will regard that task as participation in class. Further, I will check the number of times students present while also considering how actively they participate in the class regardless of whether their answers are right or wrong.
The Argus: What are your future plans for making good lessons?
Ha: I think a good class is where people take the class to interact with each other. This includes not only enjoyment on the teacher side, but on the student-side as well.
In order to make a good class, first, I want to teach students more passionately.
Second, I will keep myself motivated. Teachers should not be lazy to learn, so that they can deliver many benefits to students.
Finally, I would like to have a customized class ? a class to induce a small number of students with a passive attitude to attend the class. My personal wish is that students taking my class will be satisfied.
The Argus: What do you want from HUFSans to make good lessons?
Ha: Confucius once said “The one who was born a genius can’t win against the one who tries, and the one who tries can’t win against the one who enjoys.” I always try to remember his remark. If HUFSans enjoy learning their fields of interest and about their major, they will naturally find it enjoyable.
Some of the universities and professors try to provide students with a certain level of quality to their classes and teaching. It is hoped that more professors will think about how classes are for students and create classes with students, working on class content together. Also, students need to take the time to grasp the professor’s intention to offer quality classes to them and negotiate on their own behalf in the pursuit of learning.
By Oh Ju-yeong
Staff Reporter of Global & National Section