Ashesi faculty explore new teaching strategies in seminar

May 29 – June 1, 2017 – Ashesi’s Academic department held its annual Faculty Development seminar over a three-day spread. Led by Fulbright Senior Specialist and Associate Professor at Muhlenberg College, Pennsylvania, Clifton Kussmal, the training program focused on introducing the Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) to the faculty, to help enhance teacher-student engagement.

“For this year’s seminar, we chose to bring someone from POGIL to help our staff explore improved and effective ways of helping our students gain deep and broad understanding in the classroom,” said Dr. Suzanne Buchele, Provost. “If our faculty apply the framework in a variety of ways, such as, in having students do project work in class, it will consistently provide better results for students. Essentially, it’s a pedagogical workshop aimed at improving our innovation in our teaching and learning strategies.”

Discovered as an effective way of teaching students some twenty years ago, over 1000 distinct disciplines within academia have adopted the POGIL over the years. POGIL also uses guided inquiry – a learning cycle of exploration, concept invention and application, as the basis for tools that teachers use to guide students in helping them construct new knowledge.  

“POGIL is a bunch of different ideas, and if you use them together, magical things happen,” said Kussmal.  “I think POGIL is great, however, ultimately whether or not teaching strategies meet the definition of POGIL, so far as you doing something that helps you help our students, that’s the goal.”

Over the three-day period, faculty, faculty interns and course coordinators engaged in projects and exercises to help them warm up to the POGIL framework.

“Among other things, I liked the fact that through this framework, we were very intentional in terms of the coming up with an objective we want to achieve in a topic,” said Anthony Ebo Spio, Head of Business Administration Department. “And by and large, that drives the kind of positive engagement that happens through the entire length of the course.”