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Habits of Asking Questions in Malaysian Classes

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digimushu Male
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  #1 Old 25-08-2004 Default Re: Research Opportunities In Malaysia

Quote:
Originally Posted by chenchow
Joe from Carnegie Mellon University wrote:"I have a suggestion..... that day the ambassador come to visit...and someone bring up an issue about research opportunity back at home that many lecturers in malaysia universities need students to help out in their research..... since many malaysian students from US going back over the winter or summerbreak... they can work under the professors to gain experience and contribute.... a malaysian who studying master here and taught in UM forshort time said that a network between malaysia universities and malaysian students abroad is needed...."

I suggested back to him that we in Recom should do something with it and be the linkage... Lets brainstorm
Oh and if they want someone to teach, no offense meant to anyone but none of the racial preference thingy. If i teach a class, i'll do my best to help my students out and teach the class my way. I have no expectations of how many students in my class getting Cs or As. For all I care, they can all get As or all get Cs. Grades will NOT be curved. I would also like to see my students asking questions in class, or challenge my teaching if they feel something is wrong, as I often do that here to my profs. be it as a student or professor, we are all still learning and somehow i feel the best way of learning is to challenge something and think deeply into the topic.

Malaysian tertiary education is too exam oriented, which is unsuitable for engineering. It should be 75% homework and daily quizzes and 25% final exam, IMHO. Most Malaysian students are impeccable at theory but lack the 'feel' for application. Giving them time to think about some problems should give them an insight into the applications and some very important concepts.

When I was at UTM to visit my friend there, I managed to sit in one of his classes before we went for lunch just to see how things are. I noticed that the learning is not interactive. The information flow is only one way, from the lecturer to the student. This is bad, because the students mind will wander away. This type of teaching really dulls the mind as you are just memorising somebody's result without any consideration of the theory behind it. If we want more R&D, we need students who can challenge traditional theories and give reasonable justifications why the theory is incomplete or flawed.

OK...enough of me digressing, we should go back to the original topic...
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digimushu Male
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  #2 Old 26-08-2004 Default

Anyways, while we are still on this topic..

http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/N...le/indexb_html
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  #3 Old 26-08-2004 Default

agree with digimushu on that aspect, and I think that we need to embark on a really huge fundamental changes in the people's mentality to bridge this gap.

Anyone has any practical opinion? Digimushu, what do you think if students start to raise their hands in lecture back in Malaysia? Would that make any changes? Would the lectures become more lively?
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digimushu Male
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  #4 Old 27-08-2004 Default

Practical changes huh?

hrmmmm..i guess we have to start from high school. I remember when i was in the science club in high school, we would organize the 'Science Olympics' for our junior members. It mainly consist of a few events that are meant to drive fundamental concepts into the thick skull of students(jk!). An example of one the challenge is this:

We give you a roll of tape, some newspaper and glue. Make an egg survive a 3 storey fall. Sounds easy, but it takes a lot of thinking. Some solutions include making a 'crumple zone' to reduce the impluse sustained by the egg and parachutes. Even more interesting solutions are parafoil(parachutes with an aerofoil-like behavior).

If we make our high school students ask questions and wonder 'why?' instead of 'how?' most of the time, I believe we should be on the right path. We need to make them ask questions and bring that habit into their profession. The mentality in high school is like this:

1. The teacher is always right
2. If the teacher is wrong, refer to rule #1

We have to cure this mentality and make them challenge everything. Truth to be told, I did not ask questions until i come to the US, where i was in an environment of 'do-or-die' situation.

The problem I feel in our local uni is that the professors are too high up in their pedestal back home. As such, students feel intimidated and are afraid to ask questions. Its hard to get the student's mentality to change if the professor's do not change. Even if the professor's ar wrong and they are just BSing up there, no one dares to call their bluff. Lovely predicament, eh?

All in all, i'm not sure any change can be imposed on the system, unless some professor's stop being conservative and be more open. Plus, the syllabus needs to be revamped. Our Control Systems syllabus is waaaaayYyy behind.

Anyone has any other opinions?
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  #5 Old 28-08-2004 Default

Quote:
All in all, i'm not sure any change can be imposed on the system, unless some professor's stop being conservative and be more open. Plus, the syllabus needs to be revamped. Our Control Systems syllabus is waaaaayYyy behind.
i think majority of lecturers r like that... some mabe lack of the communication skillsor maybe some really do not know the answer!!! that's y they dun like students to as q!! as times goes by, its a norm for a student to keep their mouth shut from start to end n u will be branded as good student.

even when a student have the gut to speak up n ask, if the lecturer do not know how to answer ... the student will be 'boo.....' by all other students for doing somthing strange n unusual. WAT THE???

but that's wat really i perceive in my class , UTM.

R&D?????? suggest n do sumthing to the local lecturers first!
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  #6 Old 28-08-2004 Default

Does everyone share the same sentiment with the notion on asking questions back in Malaysia?

Just curious to know from ReComers on whether you ask questions back in high schools or whether your friends were asking questions back then? What were the reaction of yourself/friends/teachers?

I used to be asking quite a lot of questions in class, some stupid, some ok, some guess not bad questions... and I guess my classmates have mixed responses.... When I asked something that others have the same questions, they would be happy... Sometimes, I asked questions that were seemingly too easy or too wierd, then some classmates were not that positive, but from my observation, I had never found any teacher that stopped me from asking any question. I have done the same thing to almost all teachers in all subjects in high school, or even primary schools. So, I am hoping to hear from more people on the true situation from various places in the country... Mind sharing?

However, I have to say that especially for some of the teachers that like students to ask questions, they often fail to get many students to ask questions/responds . it is kind of sad, that often, the one that keeps on responding are the same 25-50% of the students in the class... Is this the same situation elsewhere?

Hope to see and hear more sharing.
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cquayhl
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  #7 Old 28-08-2004 Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by chenchow
Does everyone share the same sentiment with the notion on asking questions back in Malaysia?

Just curious to know from ReComers on whether you ask questions back in high schools or whether your friends were asking questions back then? What were the reaction of yourself/friends/teachers?
chenchow, are you serious about your experience? Which schools did you go to? You are extremely lucky. I think most people have had the opposite experience. I used to ask a lot of questions in school too. The standard answers were:

'It's not in the syllabus. When you're in Form 6 you'll learn about that.'

'I don't know. Why are you always asking these kinds of questions?'

'I'm trying to teach 50 pupils here, OK? I can't answer questions everybody's questions.'

'Trying to show off or what?'

My friends asked some questions, but mostly within the syllabus, so that was OK. To be fair to my teachers, I was doing a fair amount of extra-curricular reading. This asking questions business got me into quite a bit of trouble at school though. Once I changed schools because I was generally perceived as a discipline problem. It still puzzles me today how this came about.

Finally, I settled down in a school where I left them alone and they left me alone. I kept my head down and didn't ask too many questions. Most of the time, I either ponteng or tidur. The problem was...if you ponteng too often, kena gantung, so I also wakil sekolah in as many things as possible... School magazine was another good excuse to not be in class, although still had to be in school...sorry, that's a bit off topic. But school was hellish for me. Simply hellish. And the worst bits revolved around asking questions.

digimushu, I guess we'll have to go back and be the other kind of lecturer? Most of the things I hear are more/less the same as your experience. I have heard some good stories though from one classmate who's doing research in uni (as an undergrad) and really enjoying it...but only one.

Very occasionally I think about going back to school and being the other kind of teacher. But only very occasionally. Because it does seem like most students do only care about the syllabus and passing exams...
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jiinjoo Male
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  #8 Old 28-08-2004 Default

Charis, what you mentioned in one of the cons for not streaming our education. If you have everyone who are equally smart or has more or less the similar amount of head start studying together, then it will be less of a problem. In terms of chenchow's environment, my guess is that most of the students in his class are on par with what he's asking, so the teacher wouldn't mind answering for everyone's sake.

My experience is that everyone knows the fact that we are all not born equal, so some questions in class really hampers the teacher's ability to go with the flow of the entire class. We do have a number of geniouses in class too, and most of them learn to shut up in class, sleep, ponteng. But that doesn't stop their interest in learning because after school, you'll see them in the teacher's office asking questions about things that aren't in th syllabus per say.

Another initiative we had in school are the training groups for olympiad etc. Some aren't even traning for any competition, but just for interest sake. A teacher will take the lead in providing lots of material beyond class, or a student can raise a question and we'll all try to answer it. Whenever we have questions in class, we'll usually postpone it till private sessions or these training group sessions.

One can argue that this has caused some of the students in class to perform badly, because 1. you don't dare ask questions coz the smart ones aren't asking, no one else is asking, maybe it's just a purely dumb question; 2. what's a good question to ask in order to understand a certain topic better? you've rarely heard other ask about it, so you don't really know how to approach / understand except by asking the teacher to repeat what s/he just said (eh cikgu, repeat sekali lagi untuk seluruh class boleh tak? saya tak faham...) 3. The good students end up staying back to learn together while the not so good students are left to the tuition teachers.

I personaly only barely have enough time to coach some of my band-mates, partially out of necessicity (else their parents will come chasing after me saying that their kid is not performing in school and hence have to stop coming for band practice). Throughout my sessions with them, I kept reiterating the theme - why don't you ask this question in class? You mean the teacher didn't explain this in class? And the typical response I get is: What question to ask? If you're not trained to think analytically, it's hard to see exactly what you don't understand on the spot.

About our teacher's attitude - here's my little story - I first got a 88 in math in Form 2, the first time not in the 90s range. Being fairly strong at maths, I was angry and I went to my math teacher, pointed at my answer and ask her for an explanation of why it was wrong. She took out her model answer and I pointed out that the answer is correct. But she said I didn't follow the steps. If you guys remember, to solve a problem there're 4 steps: 1. Understanding the problem, 2. Plan out the course of action that will lead to solving the problem, 3. Solve the problem, 4. Check to see if your answer solved the problem. So apparently being someone who always falls asleep during math class, and never ever opened the math text book, I was penalized for not stating all the steps of solving the problem, and eventhough I had my calculations that led me to the answer (to prove that I actually calculated it myself), I didn't score points for that question. So nice. Therefore, all subsequent exams by this teacher, I end up writing an essay around my calculations and answer so as to please her. Till this day (Exactly 10 years later, that was 1994 August), I can still remember her pushing her finger on my head, nagging: "Ikut Buku, Ikut Buku!" Do you see what's wrong with this picture?

(FYI, she graduated from one of the english universities, sent by the government in the 80s - does this mean anything to you?)
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naturesimple
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  #9 Old 28-08-2004 Default

1 of my friend complain to me that a lecturer keep avoiding him even in the class for the reason of asking questions which he dun understand frequently.

now, he is not asking anymore
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  #10 Old 28-08-2004 Default

cquayhl, I am serious about my experience. My high school was Jit Sin High School. Thanks cquayhl, jiin joo, naturesimple to share. Hope more people would share, so that we have a bigger cross section of situations back in Malaysia.

I guess I am being naive, for not knowing that the situation is not the same everywhere. Because in my high school, the situation that happens in Jiin Joo's school, happens in my school too. After class, we used to do study groups together. As I traveled far from school, I rented a room nearby the school. Every evening and night (Mon to Thurs) without fail, our living room become like a study center, where friends, basically anyone in our batch in my school, could just pop by and study together. Learning together and helping one another. In the afternoon, those of us who learn better, would voluntarily find some students who need help, and we guide one another. I remember, being the one knowing a lot about Moral grading scheme, and I can't remember how many times I share what I know with my fellow schoolmates.

In fact, a lot of teachers encourage us to learn beyond curricular reading, although, I have to say that not many students do so... yeah, perhaps cquayhl, digimushu, you have the ability to go back and do so... Sometimes, I am asking myself... Should I go back and be a teacher/lecturer?

Streaming could be something possible to be done. My school does stream. First, it has strict entry requirement (right now, being 6As and 1B in UPSR as the minimum qualification, and not everyone with 6As in UPSR get to go in) and within the school, there is streaming among the 15 classes or so.

Yeah, sometimes, some questions would hamper the teachers' ability to continue with the flow of the classes.

Just a question, do you guys think that the tight syllabus is one of the reasons classes become mundane and teachers disallow students to ask questions? Or because of the limiting ability of the teachers? Or because some students were showing off? Or other reasons?...
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