Fulbright Scholar to Teach Student-Centered Learning at Ukrainian University

A Fulbright scholarship will allow a professor from the Duquesne University School of Education to teach student-centered learning at Sumy State University in Ukraine, a former Soviet state undergoing strategic modernization and reform.

Dr. Joseph C. Kush, a professor in the Department of Instruction and Leadership in Education, will spend 10 months working with faculty and students in undergraduate and graduate classes that focus on evaluation, assessment and psychometrics.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Education has called for a modernization across all areas of their higher education curriculum, with a particular emphasis in classes focusing on assessment and research design. Kush will work to facilitate the transformation from a Soviet-era teacher-focused curriculum in which students were encouraged to memorize facts and ask few questions to an environment in which students are more actively engaged and involved in the responsibility for learning.

"This approach parallels a trend that has been occurring here in the United States; today's students are naturally active learners," Kush said. "They no longer sit passively in classrooms listening to lectures as a way of acquiring information. I'm tremendously excited about this opportunity. It will be a thrilling time to be in Ukraine."

A key principle of student-centered learning is to create environments that replicate 21st-century workplace requirements. "Initially, this approach may be a challenge for Ukrainian students, who were not exposed to these practices in their K-12 curricula," Kush said.

Research shows that student-centered methods improve depth of understanding of course material, acquisition of critical thinking or creative problem-solving skills, formation of positive attitudes toward the subject being taught, and level of confidence in knowledge or skills.

Kush also plans to incorporate technology into student-centered learning. "They've had access to a wide variety of technological devices since they were children and are often more comfortable using instructional technology than their teachers."

Kush leaves Tuesday, Sept. 4. Upon his return, Kush said he will integrate what he's learned from his Fulbright experience in Ukraine into the courses he teaches in the School of Education.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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