Notice: This article is available in Mandarin. You find it at the end of this report.
Published: 25 May 2020
© Copyright (2020). Antonios Papadimitriou Anthony Eric of MAE. All rights reserved.
This article briefly explains how to improve student performance by enhancing the quality of higher education institutions (HEI) in China and Vietnam and nearby regions; referred to as far east Asia (FEA). (HEI) solely covers universities and colleges in (FEA).
The ideas in this paper are derived from secondary research (academic databases including proquest.com) and my own experience of having taught approximately 1000 university students at 4 different universities in Vietnam and China in 2017-2020. I am usually getting some 250-300 students per semester; 2 semesters per year since 2017 = 6 semesters up to date. 300 x 6 = 1,800. 1,000 students is a light number but a very trustworthy figure in this context.
Topics not discussed in this article include the provision of a competitive salary for highly skilled and knowledgeable foreign teachers. Private (HEI) attracting students of rich parents paying high tuition fees, should definitely afford to pay international and competitive salaries together with viable pension schemes for qualified teachers. It’s a pity that primary and secondary learning centers in (FEA) too often offer higher salaries than (HEI), just as international K12 schools tend to offer a better remuneration package than (HEI). No further discussions are done about this in this report because it would be beyond the scope, however, I would like to encourage further research concerning how a competitive salary attracts qualified teachers and how it would keep them longer in the business and how this impacts the quality of (HEI) including employer brand reputation and student performance. This article does not discuss the importance of building a strong education brand, and how this can be done in the 21st century in far east Asia. All aspects of the quality in (HEI) are not covered because it would exceed the word limits of this report. In addition, I have excluded the effectiveness of online learning and how online learning leads to improved student performance. It is recommended to conduct future research on how to build an optimized online learning program for undergraduate and graduate students at (HEI) in far east Asia.
Let’s briefly explain the notion of foreign teachers in (FEA). Institutions in (FEA) place great emphasis on getting a foreign face; it’s a common phenomenon. But a majority of foreign teachers in (FEA) are not qualified to teach at a certain level and Chinese/Vietnamese (FEA) students shall never be lured to think that a white face ultimately means high-quality teaching. When referring to foreign teachers in this report; I am emphasizing foreigners with a background like my own: born in Europe (the western world; USA, EU, Canada, Australia, UK, Ireland); at least a dual university degree holder, +15 years combined expertise in business and teaching; worked and studied in different nations with multidisciplinary and multifunctional experience. Such extensive background offers competitive ideas and proven advice that works in business, and that more likely leads to jobs and a better career because, I’ve been there, and I know what it takes to succeed and fail.
I would like to start this report by explaining the meaning of student performance and why this topic is important. Secondly, I am discussing key factors that are correlated with improved quality at higher education institutions (HEI). Key factors are supported by researchers shown at the end of this article under the section of references.
Firstly, student performance includes how well students meet their goals, and it is impacted by how well students are provided subject matter expertise that is directly applicable in the industry after graduation. What is the purpose of education at (HEI) if it doesn’t lead to a job after graduation? Student performance can be correlated with how well a student achieves at least 2:1, which is critical to increasing the chance of landing a suitable and satisfactory job after graduation, as the job market is getting intensively competitive. And with the downside of AI artificial intelligence and robots killing white-collar jobs at a rapid speed never seen before; this doesn’t make the qualified and well-paid job market easier to enter in the 21st century. Student performance covers a sense of feeling satisfied with teachers’ correspondence, and teacher qualities. It happens that I come across talks with deans who carry the notion that: “just let the students learn something new”, while I wholeheartedly focus on teaching students what they need to know to succeed in business and their lives after graduation.
Key factors concerning improved quality of (HEI) include: (1) teaching quality (2) school environment including teaching facilities. (1) Teaching quality includes (1a) teacher feedback (1b) teacher dress (1c) curriculum (1d) teacher background.
In regards to teacher feedback (1a), the good old days delivered a reality where teachers interacted with students mainly on email, and face-to-face, on campus. I clearly remember life as an MBA postgraduate student in the UK in 2010-2011. I got most of my questions answered by talking to teachers on class breaks and by visiting their office during office hours. One of the most counterproductive ways of learning is to let questions go unanswered. Once you sit the exam, you are supposed to compare and critique ideas, but it is going to be hard if you didn’t understand theory and concepts before taking the exam. Talking to ambitious study buddies often provide valuable clarifications. Nevertheless, teachers today, in the year of 2020, are expected to answer students quickly, and of course, accurately. Through student quality surveys of hundreds of (HEI) students’ last 3 years, I got to understand that the latter is important for improved student performance and enhanced student satisfaction. When teaching in China at (HEI) I use WeChat, emailing, and Zoom APP when communicating with my students. In Vietnam, I tend to use Facebook and Gmail hangout. It is important to listen to how students want to communicate and not how the teacher wants to communicate. The hours for two way online communication shall be agreed with the administration office such as to be online 4 hours per day, Monday to Friday, and it is suggested that teachers don’t make the mistake to always be available 24/7/365. Make sure to get some rest between tutorials and communication sessions and to get time over for research and to correct homework, assignments and exams. Moreover, feedback given to students must be constructive, unbiased, and free of prejudice and favoritism shall be excluded at all times. Don’t give some students more/better answers because you favor them before someone else. It creates a sense of injustice and an (HEI) shall be an institution promoting fairness, righteousness and social inclusion. The purpose of feedback is to clarify and enhance understanding, and not to confuse or mislead students. Feedback shall be underpinned by academic literature, and teacher’s subject matter expertise on top of important industry experience.
That’s why higher-level students and professionals enjoy my business and public speaking classes; I am from the business world and I bring a dual view when answering questions that enhance student’s understanding. Dual-view in terms of offering +10 years of my invaluable industry expertise, that comes with real business experiences, on top of, academic theory from high-level literature and articles found in databases. A recognized and highly successful teacher must promote solutions that are effective and work in the industry, in the business world, after graduation, or we are stuck in the graveyard of teaching students outdated, untested and counterproductive textbook theories that nobody talks about after graduation and that is not demanded by employers. Several researchers at (HEI) are busy addressing correlations and dependencies of factors, and to rank the importance of factors through SPSS/Anova tests. Nevertheless, teachers at (HEI) need to add effective frameworks, concepts, tools and techniques that are demanded by the business world so students get the most out of the time studying at (HEI).
Having spoken about teacher feedback, as part of ensuring and improving teaching quality at (HEI), and improving student performance, we are now going to look at teacher’s dress (1b) that can have a profound impact on learner’s study performance at (HEI). I remember myself turning-up in good looking but short trousers, a white long sleeve shirt and a tie, when teaching in Xiamen where it is hot and humid most of the year. One of the students asked me about the dress policy at the school, and I politely answered that there is no strict rule for using short trousers (khaki styled). Sometime after that discussion, it came to my mind that dress may have an impact on how students judge you as a teacher so I did some research. What I found was that the researchers shown in the reference list of this article state that students get more motivated to listen to an (HEI) teacher when dressed-up professionally. A professional dress gains respect and admiration according to the researchers mentioned at the end of this report, and a well-dressed teacher comes across as organized, tidy and well planned. He/she becomes an authority that is seen to bring respected knowledge and skills to the course. However, a professional dress may also signal distance between teachers and students, and it is therefore vital to communicate a teacher’s wishes to collaborate in an open, close, and friendly atmosphere with the students.
The next key factor impacting student performance and quality in (HEI) is the curriculum (1c). With low salaries when teaching in (FEA) and with unviable remuneration packages that lack sufficient pension schemes to survive on, concerning the living costs of a retired teacher in the western world, it is easy to get stuck on the same curriculum year in and year out due to factors impacting satisfaction and motivation: salary, given teacher support by the administration office, teacher treatment, and facilities. In the ideal world, a responsible and highly qualified, well-paid teacher at (HEI) should improve the curriculum at least year on year, and the process of doing so shall be simplified and less bureaucratic. Curriculum improvements include how students are assessed, the weighting scores of assessments and questions used on assessments. Improving the curriculum also includes conducting ongoing studies in academic databases, and to provide new articles for homework and discussions that improve students’ learning and study performance. Literature shall be chosen that reflects the level and requirements of the (HEI) and newer literature shall be used to provide students with the latest research, concepts and methodologies. One weakness of teaching in (FEA) is that academic literature is seldom refunded by the institution, and some teachers choose to go with outdated literature found for free online. As part of updating the curriculum, it is important to include practical exercises that reflect a new and changing reality in the business world and to include activities that train learners in conducting presentations, solving problems, finding business data, collaborating in teams when solving problems as well as presenting findings convincingly. Students are expected to manage these key knowledge areas when applying for a white-collar job, so it is a perfect time starting at the college. An (HEI) teacher may not have to develop a curriculum from scratch depending on the topic taught, instead, find a curriculum online and make it better; why reinvent the ‘curriculum wheel’ again? Websites like edx.org and coursera.org in combination with peer discussions as well as a teacher’s academic and business experience would do well when improving the curriculum leading to improved quality and student performance.
Following the curriculum for improved student performance and enhanced quality at (HEI) is the teacher’s background and there are a lot of unqualified and junior foreign teachers in (FEA) looking for some ‘quick bang for buck’. A sad story among the bricks and mortar learning centers (I am not talking about higher education institutions) in far east Asia (FEA), is that too many students are not being told the truth. This is my experience when I temporarily taught at learning centers for a few months. Students are placed on wrong levels so the morally corrupt and unethical learning centers earn more money on each student, and students are being told all sorts of fancy stories, high-level backgrounds and extraordinary achievements of the young and unqualified teachers that are blunt lies. This happens to attract learners to learning centers. I haven’t experienced this at the same extent when teaching at (HEI) in (FEA) and (HEI) are absolutely much better places to be than the classical ‘bricks and mortar’ learning centers found on the streets, although, the salary often is lower at (HEI). Concerning learning centers, too many of those, are no more than a bunch of hypocrites, liars and educational cheaters and I feel sad about local hardworking students being stuck in long term language training contracts in a belief that the learning centers deliver “value” and “quality”.
Nevertheless, I promote university and college teachers with a mixed background concerning academic and industry expertise because the white-collar industry that carries successful and well-reputed global employers hire a mix of talents from all over the world and from all walks of life. Let me give you an example of a teacher I had at KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden; Mr. Per Wallander. He taught GSM networks and mobile operations in the 1990th and early 2000 on the engineering program. He wrote books, and brought over 3 decades of fascinating industry expertise; he was part of building the first mobile networks at the biggest telecom operator in Sweden, Telia. His university lessons were detailed and easy to understand, and he brought state-of-the-art examples from the real telecom world and we did laboratory experiments under his surveillance that led to the “eureka” experience multiple times. I wouldn’t care if he had a Ph.D. or not – but his subject matter expertise and teaching style were engaging and interesting. What else can you ask from a modern (HEI) teacher?
Accordingly, I promote that universities and colleges hire a mix of PhDs and MBAs teachers full-time, in order to bring combined industry expertise and the know-how of applying theories and concepts into effective solutions and business practices. Politics and biased attitudes of looking down at anybody without a Ph.D. must stop immediately, as it hampers students’ optimal learning in my view. I understand that universities need PhDs and professors to conduct research that leads to publications that give (HEI) recognition and public funds. However, with the spread of the Internet, researchers can be found worldwide and (HEI) should take the opportunity to hire global researchers for the single purpose to conduct and publish reports in the name of the university through mutually beneficial agreements. (HEI) should intensify the hiring of teachers of mixed backgrounds that show a passion for learning (continuous learning, writing books and manuals) and who love to teach and inspire learners to go beyond what is expected to pass a program. Non-PhDs are also capable of doing research, especially case study research and literature reviews including primary and secondary data. An exceptional teacher writes blogs, books and study manuals on his spare-time and he/she is always looking for the latest knowledge and research that add value to (HEI) students. My recommendation is therefore that (HEI) look for a mix of local and international teachers with a multinational and multidisciplinary background for the simple reason that the world has come closer with IT and successful enterprises seek people from all walks of life. This mix of workers tends to give birth to competitive inventions, ideas as well as it generates creativity which benefits enterprises seeking an edge over competition.
Finally, having discussed the teacher’s background in the previous section, we are now going to cover the final part in this report; the school environment with consideration taken to (HEI) in far east Asia (FEA). Covered in this section is a school environment that improves the quality at (HEI) and that leads to enhanced student performance. First and foremost, ventilation shall be made comfortable and offer clean air (sounds obvious, but that is not always the case) and it shall not create unnecessary noises that impact students’ ability to stay focused. Lighting shall not make eyes tired, so too strong or too weak lighting shall be avoided. Expertise would be able to tell what lighting is most optimal for classroom learning. Projectors shall not be noisy, and they shall make it easy to see what is shown on a PowerPoint. Classrooms and the campus shall be equipped with high-speed Internet with no restriction on access to global websites used in learning purpose. Although I’m an engineer, I’m not a big fan of hyper-tech smartboards, but technology enthusiasts make a point that smartboards make it easier, and faster to find education documentation, and to share classroom notes with students. Whiteboards shall be available and the old blackboards with crayons shall be banned in the 21st century. It takes less time to write on a whiteboard than on a blackboard and I don’t have to inhale the white dust left from the crayons; crayons that usually break in pieces when being used. A modern (HEI) shall invest in an effective LMS learning management system, or at least, refund teachers for using third party solutions online. It is so much easier to keep track of a student’s progress by using online study platforms together with better visibility of submitted homework and with options to give effective real-time feedback digitally. An LMS that tells the teacher where students struggle with homework, and who is submitting what helps the teacher to give timely personal feedback that leads to improved student performance (feedback on weaknesses and misunderstandings). My students in far east Asia admire structured and explanatory video tutorials and these shall be made available on effective online study platforms. Weaker students can check these videos anytime, anywhere, and when there are weaknesses in the English language which is a common phenomenon, a student can run a video tutorial as many times as needed until understanding is maximized.
In regards to the bathroom (restroom), bacterial killing hand soap and toilet paper shall never be absent, to minimize the spread of germs and viruses. What could hamper productivity and student performance more than being on sick leave? In addition, (HEI) in far east Asia shall be equipped with modern libraries and with student support for writing essays and finding information. Modern scanners, printers and copy machines shall be offered because modern facilities make sharing of knowledge so much easier; it saves time and helps with understanding subjects taught. The canteen shall offer healthy snacks and healthy and refreshing drinks that keep students energetic, and at the same time minimizing risks of obesity.
Moreover, (HEI) shall offer advanced administration support that minimizes static and administrative teacher work. One example is that student exam results shall be read by a machine that corrects answers in cases it’s possible. Having teachers ticking 20 questions per student of a total of 300 students, in the 21st century, is ineffective and extremely counterproductive. A teacher needs to spend his/her time on communicating with students, updating curriculum and conducting research and readings of new literature that can be used in actual and upcoming courses. It is also vital that the administration brings the right students on courses that meet the entry requirements, and better communication between teachers and administration is urgently needed to make this work. Having students on a course with wrong expectations or insufficient language skills too often leads to lower satisfaction scores on teaching quality surveys and highly recognized and skilled teachers may suddenly come across as less qualified (or less appreciated) teachers. Moreover, it is advised that deans spend more time listening to foreign teachers’ ideas of improvements and to show that actions are taken to solve some of the inefficiencies and counterproductive procedures still existing in many (HEI) in far east Asia. Set aside politics, power struggle, hierarchy rules and management distance in top-down controlled and heavily centralized institutions and let the floor (the bottom line of teachers) be open with ideas that can make the institute an even better place for existing and future students. Teachers are the engine of any (HEI) and reputable teachers can boost a brand just as easily as it can break a brand if being left disappointed and dissatisfied when leaving school.
In conclusion, this report aimed at explaining how to improve the quality at (HEI) higher education institutes in far east Asia (FEA) that takes into consideration improved student performance. Key areas discussed included what student performance implies, followed by explaining why this topic is important. Factors impacting the quality at (HEI) include teaching quality in terms of teacher feedback, the curriculum, teacher background, teacher dress and school environment. The school environment highlighted facilities, teacher support and a better cooperation between foreign teachers and deans. This report is a shortened version of a complete report by Anthony Eric Antonios Papadimitriou including student surveys showing actual satisfaction, motivation and expectations at a famous top 10 private university college in southeast China. The complete report digs deeper into the areas named above, and claims are underpinned by recognized global researchers.
Anthony Eric Antonios Papadimitriou
Senior university teacher & corporate trainer
Founder of MAE
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然而，我推崇的大学和高校教师在学术和行业专业知识方面有着复杂的背景，因为白领行业雇佣的人才来自世界各地和各行各业。举个例子，我在瑞典皇家理工学院的一位老师：Mr. Per Wallander。他在1990年代和2000年初教授GSM网络和移动操作工程课程，他著书立说，并拥有超过30年令人崇敬的行业专业知识。他参与了瑞典最大的电信运营商Telia的第一个移动网络的建设。他的大学课程很详细，很容易理解，他本人就是现实的电信界的活生生例子，我们在他的监督下在实验室做了实验，并获得了很多次发现。我不在乎他是否有博士学位——但他的学科专长和教学风格都很吸引人，也很有趣。你还能向像他这种水平现代大学教师多要求些什么呢？
总之，本报告旨在解释如何提高远东地区高等教育机构的质量，以提高学生的成绩和表现。讨论的关键内容包括学生的成绩和表现的意义，以及为什么这个话题如此重要。影响高等教育机构质量和教学质量的因素包括教师反馈、课程设置、教师背景、教师着装和学校环境等方面。对学校环境的探究，突出了学校设施、对教师支持和外籍教师与院长之间更好的合作等问题。这份报告是Anthony Eric Antonios Papadimitriou的完整报告的简略版本，其中包括在一所中国东南部著名的前10名私立大学学院的学生调查显示的实际满意度，学生的主观能动性和期望。完整的报告对上述地区进行了更深入的挖掘，并得出了全球科研人员公认的结论。
Anthony Eric Antonios Papadimitriou
MAE在远东地区提供的现代化教育和咨询服务，为商业专业人士和积极进取的高等教育学习者提供更好的学习体验和更好的学习成绩。Anthony Eric拥有国际商务工商管理硕士学位（成绩优异）和电子与经济工程学士学位（1:1）。他2004年毕业于瑞典，2011年毕业于英国，先后在IBM、德勤、伦敦国王学院、爱立信、伯明翰商学院以及Semcon和TietoEnator等国际知名机构接受培训。Anthony拥有以上11年的行业专业知识，将商业世界的深度和广度带到了课堂上，他主要在电信、IT和保险行业和领域担任过各种职位，如企业所有者、顾问、销售和项目经理。他在项目管理、商业运营以及商业相关主题的专业人员和大学生培训方面积累了多年宝贵的经验。Anthony带来了各种概念、框架和最新的学术研究，并结合经验证的行业解决方案，帮助学习者在就业市场上变得更有竞争力，实现他们的学习目标。Anthony写非虚构小说、学习手册以及关于他业余时间与教育和商业有关的文章，他在越南从事儿童慈善项目。Anthony Eric （Antonios Papadimitriou）讲希腊语，他瑞典语和英语流利，目前居住在香港和中国大陆。