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ISA Annual Convention 2014

Article contributed by –toronto1_thumb

Bakyt Ospanova and Saule Sarkenova

We are professors teaching undergraduates in Kazakhstan (Bakyt Ospanova at L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian National University and Saule Sarkenova at Karaganda University “Bolashak”). We are also graduates of the IF special training program for international scholars on student-centered discussion, and have used IF’s method in teaching our courses. Last month we presented a paper highlighting IF’s student-centered discussion method at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, held March 26-29, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.

This year’s Annual Convention of the International Studies Association in Toronto was as great event as it was last year when we first went there as participants. Approximately 6000 scholars from all over the world attended the conference, and there were more than 1200 panels and roundtables hosted by the Convention.

We presented a paper entitled “Making Students Active in Passive Learning Environment. Student-Centered Discussion as an Active Learning Method” at the panel devoted to the active learning techniques for international studies students. The other presenters at the panel represented universities from the United States, the UK and Cyprus.

In our presentation we talked about student-centered discussion as a teaching method, and shared our experience on applying this approach in different disciplines at two Kazakh universities. We addressed the challenges of applying the method in our particular cases and underlined the benefits of the method for involving students in the class. We also shared the feedback we got from our students at the end of the course. And we emphasized the flexibility of the method in terms of fitting it in various class settings and different disciplines.

Our paper got a lot of attention and some questions from the audience. Most of the questions addressed the issue of the method itself and the possibility of applying it in different classroom settings. We were also able to talk individually to the Annual Convention’s participants who were particularly interested in the method afterwards.

After the panel finished we handed out several copies of Adolf Gundersen’s and Sue Lea’s book Let’s Talk Politics: Restoring Civility Through Exploratory Discussion and IF’s brochures about student-centered discussion, both of which were provided to us by IF Fellow Ieva Notturno before the conference.

The paper we presented at the Convention has now been uploaded on the conference website and is assessable for all ISA members worldwide, even for those who were not able to attend the Convention.