Beijing, 24th November, 2016 (BISTU)--- My four-week learning and research with University College Cork in Ireland, from 10th July to 6th August, successfully completes. This academic visit targets practical teaching and learning of course planning, delivering, and evaluation.
Located in Cork--- the second largest city of Ireland, UCC is one of the oldest universities in Ireland as well as a member of Ireland national university league. Its predecessor is Queen¡¯s College established in 1845. UCC was named as ¡°the Best Ireland Universities 2003-2004¡± by Sunday Times, with its perfect teaching facilities, quality faculties, and outstanding research achievements.
We focus on two modules, i.e., Teaching and Learning Research (TLR) and Academic English. Dr. James and Dr. Briony are principal lecturers for TLR. Their teaching is very impressive and they are capable of delivering complicated, abstract theories in simple, visualized way. During the lecture, they usually let students from different countries to tell meanings of their respective university mottos and university logos. My knowledge of BISTU culture logos helps me win praise of them. Seats in UCC¡¯s classrooms are U-listed, which allows lecturers to walk in the middle of students so that he could encourage them to talk. It is a different way and culture of teaching and it better encourages students to think independently. In class, professor would start a game at any moment to help teaching and to boost creative thinking. It is one of the most impressive experiences for us. Tea break is arranged to allow exchanges between professors and students.
Academic English is delivered by Dr. Claire, focusing on listening and speaking as well as other skills. She is very flexible in teaching and good at organizing student-centered activities. Group discussion, speaking, peer review, and professor evaluation are the most common ways of teaching. For every lecture she would choose various topics for us to discuss and the topics cover a wide range of issues--- some are thought-provoking, some interesting, and some involve frontier research. ¡¡¡¡
Students of language class are from many countries, China, Spain, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Japan, Russia, etc. Learning with students from different countries, I would say that Chinese students are mostly shy. In this class, I try very hard not to be shy and to show my confidence. I love putting myself in the agenda set by professors, exploring issues, and performing when necessary. Claire assigns us quite some homework, including grammar and presentation. In the second week, we deliver a speech on Travel. Peer review is conducted after class and the professor also review each of our presentations. In the last week, the teacher buys a lot of foods and lets us try them first. Then she tells us to promote these foods by groups with each of group members responsible for different jobs. Such a fresh way of teaching does improve me a lot in respect of language proficiency, interpersonal communication, and my courage of speaking in public.
Living in Ireland of course gives us opportunities to experience local life here. In the evening of the first Thursday, we are happy to enjoy traditional Irish dancing and singing performance, inclusive of step-dance. I have long been reminded of openness and confidence of European people. However, the real performance in theatre still surprises me with their enthusiasm and love of life. In my spare time, I also watch campus musical and visit some castles such as Blackrock Castle Observatory.
Library of UCC offers rich resources for learning and research. In addition to a university library, the colleges have their own libraries too. A large number of classrooms are provided in the libraries, including public learning seats and small-scale discussion rooms. Wifi-connection is available in every corner of the libraries who also offer photocopy, printing and scanning services. If the books you are borrowing are not available, you could file a request online and then the libraries would help find electronic version for you. All the services are free to students.
The four-week with UCC broadens my horizon and help me learn more about development of Irish higher education. Education is the foundation of a nation. It is necessary for us to review experiences of developed countries and actively devote to reform of China¡¯s higher education. As a member of BISTU, it is our responsibility to continuously improve ourselves so as to contribute to construction of BISTU as a first-class teaching and research oriented university.