“A rich exchange of information” is how Ruud Braun described his visit to Purdue. Last February two Fontys University graduate students, Ruud Braun and José ten Wolde, visited Purdue University as part of an international collaboration set up by Brenda Capobianco, assistant professor of science education. The mission of this collaboration is to provide graduate students and teacher educators at Purdue University and Fontys University in the Netherlands opportunities to exchange knowledge and gain understanding. Capobianco said, “This type of international collaboration is important because it provides graduate students, teacher educators, and researchers an opportunity to examine issues, concerns, and trends in science education from a global perspective. For example, how teachers teach science and how children learn science through inquiry are pressing concerns in science education in the United States. Does this call for inquiry apply to students and teachers in other countries? How do Dutch teachers integrate inquiry-based approaches in their instruction?” Two Fontys University science education Master’s students, Ruud Braun, a chemistry teacher, and José ten Wolde came to West Lafayette ready to learn and share information about science education, cultural differences and cultural similarities. And, in spite of having a few events cancelled due to a major snowfall, they did just that. Braun and ten Wolde traveled to Brownsburg Middle School in Brownsburg, Ind. where they gave a presentation about Holland to students and visited the school’s Challenger Center, a center that offers educators, businesses and students inspiration and preparation for the scientific, mathematical and technological demands of the future. They toured Purdue’s chemistry labs and other facilities and spoke to science professors about programs and research. They also visited the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis where they saw some interesting and fun ways to present science to children. The hope is that experiences like these will continue for Fontys University and Purdue University graduate students. “I envision our international collaboration continuing with small- scale study abroad experiences for both Dutch and U.S. science education faculty and their graduate students and collaborative research projects,” said Capobianco. “The long term benefits will include opportunities for students to collaborate with Dutch counterparts on conference presentations, publications, grant writing, and curriculum development projects.”
college of education magazine FALL 2007
Last April 16 Russian teachers and school administrators travelled far from home to attend workshops, observe best practices in teaching and establish partnerships with their American colleagues. The trip was made possible through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State’s program “Teachers to Teachers: Language, Technology, Math and Science Exchange.” American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS administers the program.
The “Teachers to Teachers” program identifies and supports the professional development of Russian teachers and teacher-trainers in the fields of English as a foreign language, history, and social studies as well as math, hard sciences, and information technology.
Ben Dunbar, senior program officer for the American Councils, said Purdue was chosen as this year’s host university based on the strength of the proposal submitted by the College of Education and the programming it could offer.
“The objective is for these teachers to integrate everything they experience here into a summer workshop that they will deliver in Russia to 40 of their colleagues,” Dunbar said. “We want to take these best 16 Russian teachers and have them share their knowledge, so the quality of the programming and of the workshop coordinators is very important.”
The program at Purdue, coordinated by Anatoli Rapoport, assistant professor of social studies education, provided many learning and teaching opportunities for the participants. There were workshops on topics such as “Instructional Technologies in Education,” “Diversity and Problems of Multicultural Education” and “Democratic Education and Education for Democracy.” In addition to attending these and other seminars, the teachers and administrators visited historical landmarks, museums and theaters in Lafayette, Indianapolis and Chicago. They also met community and state leaders and participated in internships at local schools and a Chicago high school.
This program gave these Russian guests the opportunity to collaborate with their U.S. colleagues to develop new teaching methods, create or expand materials and curricula, and to prepare professional development workshops for colleagues in their regions.
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