Final FinPal Symposium On Excellence In Teaching And Learning

03 - Mar - 2020


In Partnership with Tampere University (TAU) in Finland, The IUG Academic Excellence Unite convened an international symposium to discuss the Perspectives on Excellence in teaching and learning in Higher Education within the international context. This event was held in IUG on Tuesday, 3rd March 2020 under the umbrella of the joint Project "Online Training of Trainers: Initiative to develop Pedagogical Practices in Palestinian Higher Education- FinPal".

Prof. Vesa Korgonen, Director of FinPal at Tampere University, inaugurated the session via skype with great pleasure to crown the success of two local rounds of training 16 teacher trainers at the first stage and 100 trainers in the second one in the Gaza Strip through FinPal project. The topics of the training were chiefly four included the following: enhancing the role of students in the process of education, designing a fertile learning environment, special features of the university teaching, and more importantly, developing the expertise in learning in Higher Education institutions.

 Prof. Korgonen also put the lights on the critical role of teachers in energizing the teaching process to be much more effective. Prof. Korgonen told the audience that teachers should deal with the process of learning as a meditative practice. Teachers can arouse their methods of teaching through building up their CVs and taking their students' feedbacks into consideration; and thus, gaining the knowledge from the students' perspectives. In addition, teachers have to team up with colleagues to teach the same course and ultimately evaluate the results. The kernel of improving the teaching methods relies on tracing after the latest research in the field and collaborate with international partners.

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together" this was the closing sentence of Prof. Korgonen speech.

Prof. Nazmi AL-Masri, Director of FinPal Project, spoke about the main outcomes of FinPal project that started more than three years ago. Throughout this project, IUG had managed to overcome multidimensional challenges, and got the most out of the Tampere's expertise and skills of pedagogy, and therefore, transform them into Gazan teachers.

Prof. Al-Masri said, "This day is devoted to crown three years of hard-working and celebrate the achievements of FinPal".

In the first session, Prof. Paul Ashwin from the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University-UK clarified via Skype some ideas about academic excellence that spread all over the world. He, particularly, concentrated on five myths of teaching excellence in higher education. Firstly, it is wrong that excellence teaching is a spontaneous and individual activity that is largely about inspirational performance. Secondly, it is also wrong that excellent teachers are always good, whilst the old-fashioned never change. Thirdly, innovative methods are at the core of teaching excellence is a very wrong idea, he stressed. Fourthly, it is also incorrect that students are conservative and likely to be critical of innovative teaching even if it is excellent. Finally, teaching excellence can easily be captured through metrics is incorrect too.

In the second session, Prof. Sana Abu Dagga from Islamic University discussed the quality of teaching and learning in the context of challenges, focusing on Islamic University as a case study. She zoomed in a number of IUG endeavors that provided by the IUG Deanship of Quality and Development to foster teaching and learning. However, there are some challenges that hinder teaching and learning opportunities at IUG. Some of which are affected by external factors such as restricted mobility, insecurity and lack of resources, and other opportunities are affected by individuals' concepts and approaches.

At the end of the symposium, Prof. AL-Masri declared that by this day, all of the FinPal Objectives have come through and the outcomes have surpassed the expectations. "This project is one of the most fruitful projects that IUG has ever involved in; its overall evaluation is 98%," he confirmed. The symposium finished by disseminating the certificates on the trainers and trainees.