Xuan Tien Vo, Mechanical Engineering Lecturer at Ho Chi Minh City of Technical Education, is changing the way he engages his Mechanical Engineering students. Instead of spending the semester lecturing to his students, Mr. Tien is incorporating active learning into his curriculum and having his students complete different team activities. Tien is a recent Higher Engineering Education Alliance Program (HEEAP) participant and credits his new facilitation approach to the knowledge gained during his training at Arizona State University.
HEEAP is a government-industry-university collaboration that is striving to advance the Vietnamese technical workforce by improving engineering higher education. Spending the semester lecturing to engineering higher education. Engineering faculty from participating Vietnamese universities are selected to travel to Arizona to complete a summer training program. During the six weeks of training at ASU, Tien and fellow HEEAP participants learned about new instructional models and how to assess student learning.
“The fact is students do not know what they will study in university and who they become when they graduate,” said Tien. Consequently, he is striving to incorporate more hands-on activities into his classroom to provide his students with a more interactive higher education experience. One of the activities Tien completed during his HEEAP training was building a self-sustaining tower using spaghetti and marshmallows. Since spaghetti and marshmallows are expensive and difficult to find in Vietnam, Tien substituted straws and sticking plaster. He shared this activity with his students, and it was received with enthusiasm and unanimous participation.
Tien describes the students’ engagement by saying they played the game “with their heart and hand.” Instead of just sitting in the classroom taking notes, students were interacting and communicating with one another.
Despite Tien feeling limited by the amount of time he can spend on non-lecture activities, he was able to make time and find the necessary space and resources to provide his students with a more engaging learning experience. Tien plans on including more interactive “games” into his future classes as he wants his students to have more time practicing their English communication and presentation skills. In addition, he plans on incorporating engineering ethics and management models to ensure his students are prepared to enter the engineering workforce.