Kaizen Learning – An Innovative Teaching Technique Applied at GUtech

The Department of Mathematics and Sciences (MAS) at GUtech has introduced an innovative, student-focused learning technique, entitled Kaizen, usually used in the industry. Prof. Dr. Bernhard Heim, Head of the MAS Department and Dean of the Faculty of Science recently published along with colleagues from GUtech and RWTH Aachen Germany a paper entitled “Driving student-centered calculus: results of a comprehensive case study for Kaizen learning in the Sultanate of Oman”. The Kaizen method can be applied in large mathematics lectures for Engineering, Geosciences, Computer Sciences students. Prof Bernhard was also awarded with the GUtech Ibn Al Haytham Teaching Award 2016.

“Kaizen is a teaching philosophy that is based on short learning units with many feedback loops and continuous testing of the students’ knowledge,” said Prof. Bernhard who has been teaching at GUtech since 2009. “We introduced the teaching method around two years ago and we were glad to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback from our Omani and international students. As a result, the attendance in class has increased to more than 85% since the induction of Kaizen at GUtech,” said Prof. Bernhard while adding that classical forms of memorizing and teaching in front of the students are not applicable anymore. Nowadays students expect the use of multi-media tools, which is a big advantage to enhance the students self-motivation and self-studies. “To overcome the usually used memorizing techniques in our Engineering classes where we teach Mathematics for Engineering the student needs a progression from pure calculus to mathematics, which requires analytical and geometrical skills,” said Prof. Bernhard. To reach high success rates, the Kaizen technique focuses on the continuous human-human interaction between professor and student as well as between assistants and students. Moreover, clearly communicated expectations, avoidance of a short-term learning attitude, a strict no-calculator policy and a balanced combination of traditional teaching and e-learning techniques, through mobile applications or advanced tailored e-learning management software. The e-learning software provides weekly exercises for students. In addition, the students have continuous support by GUtech academic staff who act as mentors and help understand the various assignments. “Such a sustainable learning process through Kaizen guarantees that students are well prepared for their final exams,” said Prof. Bernhard. Moreover, the strict “no calculator policy” in the classroom ensures that students realize that mathematics is about structures, to obtain a result pattern. The balanced use of traditional teaching and e-learning, so called blended learning, e.g. through the use of short videos, it ensures a high student motivation and enfolds its full potential when integrated within the science or mathematics course.

The Kaizen teaching method was presented at different universities such as Sultan Qaboos University, RWTH Aachen University, Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Technical University Munich as well as at an international learning conference ‘Bett Middle East’ in Abu Dhabi. For further details about the Kaizen technique, please contact Prof. Bernhard: Bernhard.heim@gutech.edu.om

In the context of exchanging ideas about teaching, the GUtech Department of MAS has been organizing regular teaching seminars at lunch time, the schedule can be requested from the department.

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