Seminar-workshop on learner-centered approaches for Papua New Guinea educators

A JICA expert and seven educators ifrom Papua New Guinea -participated in the seminar-workshop on Learner-centered Approaches to Teaching Science and Mathematics held at the Science Teacher Training Center, NISMED on October 29 and November 2 to 5, 2010. The five-day seminar-workshop was designed to enhance the participants’ competence in facilitating the learning of science and mathematics concepts and developing higher-order thinking and process skills by engaging them in hands-on, minds-on, and hearts-on activities—the major features of a learner-centered classroom environment.

Emmanuel Ragu, a model teacher from Papua New Guinea,
interacts with the students while doing the activity on weathering.

The approaches used in the seminar-workshop were problem solving and inquiry-based teaching. The facilitators showed the interconnections of concepts, principles, and procedures in topics within the same grade level and across different grade levels. Misconceptions were addressed along the way. The participants experienced what it felt like to be students: they performed activities, completed activity sheets and worksheets, and participated in whole-class discussions. As teachers, they observed how the trainers processed the results of the activities. These were done to enable the participants to realize that in a learner-centered classroom, students do most of the thinking.

The exposure to learner-centered approaches showed how important mastery of both subject matter and pedagogical content is to their task as video script writers and model teachers in the distance education mode of delivering science and mathematics in Papua New Guinea. The participants evaluated the activities and discussed how they may be adapted or modified to suit learners’ ability and availability of instructional materials in their own country.

The participants also attended sessions on information and communication technology and on the utilization of locally-made instructional materials. They went on cultural and educational trips around Metro Manila and visited two public high schools. The school visits gave them an opportunity to observe learner-centered science and mathematics classes and to interact with Filipino high school teachers and administrators. It also gave them a chance to witness classroom realities in the Philippines—some of which are similar to their own experiences—and how constraints can be turned into opportunities. These activities enriched their ideas in designing and developing various interactive and learner-centered activities.