March 29, Times Higher Education – Nankai University THE China Universities Forum was held in Tianjin. Focusing on the education’s significance, goals and methods, Zhenyuan Zhai, Former President, China Association of Higher Education, Ning Zhang, Deputy Secretary-General, China Scholarship Council, Qinghua Zheng, Vice-president, Xi'an Jiaotong University, and Genshu Lu, Director, West China Higher Education Evaluation Centre, Xi'an Jiaotong University discussed about “The significance of teaching excellence to different stakeholders”. The discussion was hosted by Hui Li, Director, Asian Market and Partnership.
Zhenyuan Zhai said, excellent teaching should promote the combination of life skills and comprehensive development. Since the foundation of PRC, cultivating the professional talents has always been a mainstream of higher education. Though the settings of the professions could satisfy the country’s needs and have its historical significance, the problems of narrowing division and gap between natural and social sciences were apparent. Thus education should turn from cultivating the students’ life skills to comprehensive development. Excellent teaching should target at cultivating students’ all-round capability and combine general education with professions. Therefore we should focus on reforming the teaching philosophy, teaching objectives, teaching content and teaching methods, and construct a modern talent training system with Chinese characteristics and world-level quality.
He also said, the higher education has already accepted the idea, but the implementation is imbalanced. General education is more about the views of nature, society, the world and the people themselves. It is not enough to guide from the perspective of the world. It is necessary to break the concept of discipline and create an interdisciplinary system.
Ning Zhang introduced the overall situation of scientific research, study abroad, teaching and internationalization in universities. He said, since the Reform and Opening, China’s study-abroad projects mainly focus on the scientific research level and its gap with other countries. In recent years, China's scientific research has developed greatly, and some laboratories have become world-class. There are more and more international talents trained in China who have international language skills, cross-cultural understanding, global perspectives, understand international rules, and are able to participate in international cooperations and competitions. In terms of teaching quality, the number of returned overseas teachers has been increasing, a large number of internationally-used teaching materials have been used, and lectures of sharing the teaching methodologies have also increased.
In analyzing the characteristics of Chinese students, Ning Zhang said that Chinese students in the foreigners’ eyes are smart, hardworking, easy to get along, and have high graduation rates. However, there are also deficiencies that they will not raise questions, discuss with others, and question others. It results from the shortcomings in our teachings. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct teaching training from the teacher level.
Qinghua Zheng shared the experience of Xi'an Jiaotong University using big data artificial intelligence technology to create a new mode of classroom teaching. Classroom teaching is the key link to improve teaching quality. Four problems exist in the management of classroom teaching quality, which are inaccuracy in collecting data, commenting, student’s mutual assistance and teacher’s guidance and instruction. These are basic and general problems which are hard to be solved. Over the years, Xi'an Jiaotong University has been committed to building new classrooms based on big data analysis. The school has developed the data acquisition technology of “Internet of Things + Cloud Computing”, proposed the evaluation method of intelligent teaching quality, and established a problem-driven precision supervision mechanism, promoting the teaching management, service, education, quality and efficiency.
Zheng said that now living in an era of big data, with the principle of assistance, they collect, analyze and evaluate the teaching and learning situation in the class in order to promote the students’ as well as teachers’ respect to the class and cultivate good teaching and learning habits.
Genshu Lu analyzed the content, structure and comment of “excellent teaching” and proposed the rethinking of the concept. In 1930s, researchers have studied the constituents of “excellent teaching”, but described little of its content. Since there is no well-accepted definition, its content needs to be define from different perspectives. It is a multidimensional and developing concept and hard to be accurately defined or measured. It is like two sides of a coin, both students and teachers should be considered in the process of teaching and learning.
He also mentioned that today some universities explore the implementation of collegiate system, combining the first and the second classroom. As a platform to break the boundaries of students' subject professions, grades, etc., and build community activities, technological innovation, and Q&A exchanges, it may be an effective way to explore general education.