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The Twin-engine to Motivate “Teaching” and “Learning”
Author:Zhou Yezhong  Date:2016-04-25  Clicks:

Recent years have witnessed the apparent lack of motivation among teachers as well as students in universities, especially in research universities.  This has aroused growing concern about the quality of talents cultivation from all walks of life. Therefore, creating a twin-engine to motivate both “teaching” and “learning” has become a key point for Chinese universities to enhance the quality of talents training in modern times.

Education is about both “teaching” and “learning”. Only by integrating these two sides can the teaching effect be improved. The engine of “teaching” and “learning” refers to the impetus driving teachers to teach and students to learn. Teachers’ devotion to teaching and students’ endeavor to learn will eventually contribute to the discipline development, curriculum and teaching materials design, as well as the innovation of talents-cultivating models and educational reform. Thereby, during the “Undergraduate Educational Reform Symposium and Undergraduate Education Conference” in 2015, it was clearly stated that efforts need to be enhanced to create a twin-engine approach to motivate ‘teaching’ and ‘learning’ by Wuhan University.

As for the motivation of “twin-engine”, it is prerequisite to motivate teachers to teach. Currently, the lack of motivation and dedication among teachers can find expression in their insufficient passion for work and devotion, since they regard teaching as a compelled task or burden.

Three standards can be used to evaluate teachers’ devotion. Firstly, the time that teachers spend on work. Secondly, their attitudes towards teaching. For example, did they prepare lessons well? Did they give the students helpful feedback? Thirdly, their care and concern about their students also counts since teachers who love students tend to love teaching as well in most cases. It is fair to say the lack of motivation is basically due to the lack of teachers’ devotion. Thus, such incentives, with both material and spiritual rewards, should be adopted by universities to stimulate teachers’ initiatives to engage in teaching.

As significant as teaching is the process of learning. Students’ interests in study and their desire for knowledge can be the decisive factors when it comes to teaching effectiveness and talent cultivation quality. Although the vast majority of students are highly motivated to learn, quite a few students still suffer from unruly attitude, ambiguous targets, poor self-control, motivation shortage and even weariness and study disability during their learning process.

Wuhan University has stipulated “Suggestions on Implementating a Student-oriented Service System of Education” to show respect to students and urge them to learn, promoting their development and achievement. This stipulation further attached great importance to upgrading the academic guidance, optimizing learning services and implementing tutorial system and “Candlelight Guidance System” among undergraduates. Guidance is given to students on subject selection, course taking, study methods, innovation and entrepreneurship as well as career planning through such activities as “Open Day for Undergraduates” held by supervisor committee and “Guidance Day” held in each faculty. Additionally, GPA has gain an increasing proportion in scholarship assessment and graduate recommendation in order to motivate students to learn. Another motivating measure is to offer bigger rewards and extra opportunities of graduate recommendation to the individuals and teams that achieve excellent results in discipline competitions.

To summarize, it is necessary to integrate both teaching and learning and make them the twin-engine for better education. The reasons are as follows. To begin with, the motivations of teaching and learning are of intrinsic consistency for their common concern about students’ studying and their shared contributions to the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Then, the motivations of teaching and learning are premises to each other. The insufficiency of either side can make it impossible to release the other side. Thirdly, the motivations of “teaching” and “learning” will affect each other and transform into each other. Teaching effectiveness can be the source of students’ motivation. Similarly, students’ respect for teachers, passion for learning, active in-class interaction and after-class assignment performance can motivate teachers to make progress as well.

In 2015 “Undergraduate Education Conference”, it was further stressed that the dominant position of teachers and students in education should be acknowledged and the administration should shift its role from “management conductor” to “service provider” by Wuhan University. “Two Basic ideas” (teaching is the priority of teachers while learning is that of students) and “Two Service System” (teacher service system with teaching promotion as its core and student service system with learning development as its core) were reaffirmed during the conference. Meanwhile, all administration departments were asked to provide teachers and students with consistent supports in terms of development and service so that teachers can devote themselves to teaching while students enjoy learning and be good at learning.

(The author is the Vice President, Professor and doctoral supervisor in Wuhan University)

(Translated by Shen Yuxi, Edited by Jin Yiwen, Wang Mengtian, Mark & Hu Sijia)

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