Implementing formative assessment: An experience learned from Asian classrooms

Year: 2016

Author: Pham, Thanh

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The White Paper has urged Australia to strengthen its relationship with Asia in all aspects. Within this context, now more than ever there is a need for Australian higher education to better equip its students with the knowledge of Asia. Unfortunately, current efforts to incorporate Asian knowledge into Australian higher education have achieved limited success because the incorporation has been mainly only about introducing Asian cultural values but not Asian intellectual resources. Teaching and learning at Australian universities are still heavily influenced by Euro-American frameworks and approaches, characterised by a narrowly Western ideology. For many decades, knowledge has been seen as a product of the Western world only. In academia, Asian intellectual resources have been widely ignored. Research has recently, however, started arguing that Asian traditions have not only cultural values but also a rich arena of diverse philosophical and ethical-sociopolitical resources. Influential examples include Confucius’s teachings with key concepts of effort and persistence attributions – a predominant feature of Asian education, Gu’s ideology of ‘action education’ – a highlighting characteristic in modern teaching profession in China and Sanskrit mnemocultures – a distinct literacy strategy of India that emphasizes gestures over conventional writing that constitutes Euro-American epistemic forms. To prepare Australian graduates to become global citizens who can work with their Asian counterparts effectively, there is a need for Australian higher education to incorporate these Asian philosophical and ethical-sociopolitical resources in teaching and learning. Researchers have even suggested that these Asian intellectual resources might offer alternative solutions to problems that Australian education is facing. Recently, it has been widely reported that reading practices and reading comprehension have become a big concern at Australian universities - students are increasingly less engaged in reading and ineffectively link information across the subjects. Therefore, it is timely and worthwhile for Australian higher education to look for alternative pedagogies. This paper introduces two reading strategies that have been widely applied at Vietnamese universities including “doc tham thau” (reflective reading) and “doc he thong” (logic reading). The main focus of the paper is to discuss how these alternative strategies could be embedded into Australia’s current undergraduate courses. The paper also critically analyses and discusses how Australian students could enhance their critical and analytic knowledges when applying these alternative reading strategies to their studies. The paper proposes to identify novel opportunities to embed diverse and marginalised intellectual heritages into Australian higher education curricula. This research has the potential to make a contribution to the legitimatisation of marginalised knowledges in the academic agenda of Australian higher education and will be of benefit to Australian graduates, enhancing their intercultural competency to succeed in today’s multicultural workforce.