1 British Columbia Institute of Technology (CANADA)
2 University of British Columbia (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 2821-2826
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
As student mobility increases in their access of quality education globally, and education providers offer a variety of programs in foreign countries, two of the biggest challenges for educators are effective communication of key learning concepts and active student engagement. Like many colleges and universities, British Columbia Institute of Technology in Canada, has been offering a number of our programs such as engineering, computing, and financial management, etc. in partnership with other post-secondary education institutions in South Korea, China, and Vietnam over the past 5 years. At the same time, given the multi-cultural diversity of many institutions nowadays like BCIT, there are usually a number of students from different ethnic groups with different backgrounds in the same classroom. The problem of effective communication with the students and to engage students in the classroom can be challenging. This paper highlights some of our experiences in the international programs BCIT has been involved in highlighting the use of invention activities to overcome the language barrier and student participation with our foreign students.

Invention activities are one form of constructive learning proposed by Daniel Schwartz, Professor of Education at Stanford University. Invention activities are given to students prior to the traditional learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, etc. where students are presented with fictitious problems that do not appear to be related to their subject domain. These activities are often posed as analogous problems whose contexts are familiar to the students and the students can use their prior knowledge in the solution. One of the key features of these activities is that there is no one correct solution. The students, in groups of three or four, collaborate in solving these problems. There are many advantages in using invention activities in any classroom, and especially in a cross cultural setting where students may not feel comfortable in large classroom participation. However, in small groups, and with careful design of problems, students learn from one another and begin to overcome their fears so that they are more ready to engage in their learning. Other advantages include the development of knowledge transfer between disciplines, problem solving skills, team work, critical analysis, etc. Obviously, such active learning is not beneficial only for foreign students, but especially in a cross-cultural learning environment, we have found that the use of invention activities have been particularly helpful.

The paper is divided into three parts:

1) the features of these international collaborations, the model of program delivery, the auditing process, the support and coordination between institutions, credit transfer, etc.
2) the design and use of invention activities to engage students in a cross cultural setting
3) the effectiveness of active learning through invention activities in student learning
invention activities, student engagement, computer science.