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Dr. Sergio M. Abit Jr., a USAID-STRIDE visiting professor from Oklahoma State University (OSU), shared his experiences in using alternative approaches to teaching soil science, July 28, at the Department of Agronomy and Soil Science Lecture Hall.

In a lecture called Alternative teaching approaches: Do you think we’re ready?, the 1996 Bachelor of Science in Soil Science alumnus of VSU shared ideas in teaching that do away with holding lectures in the classroom most of the time. Dr. Abit also shared about alternatives in encouraging critical thinking without asking students to write lengthy term papers that they usually hate doing, and teachers dislike checking.

Blogging, using videos for learning, drive-through labs, and flipped classes are among the alternative approaches that Dr. Abit shared.

Instead of asking his students to write term papers, Dr. Abit requires his students to write blogs about a topic related to the course and publishes it to a site hosted by OSU. Not only can this provide new knowledge on the topic and an opportunity to enhance writing skills as writing term papers can, but can also develop a comprehensive knowledge which is requisite in simplifying highly technical facts, Dr. Abit said.

Using videos can also be used to teach students in performing computations, Dr. Abit advised. By using even a smartphone to take a video of how a fertilizer computation can be done, Dr. Abit said students are able to replay and pause the process, depending on their learning pace.

Dr. Abit also shared the method called drive-through labs that follow the idea of drive-through food chains in which learning becomes quick, easy, and convenient as opposed to three-hour labs. This is appropriate for students who feel necessary to see and touch objects to learn faster.

In addition, Dr. Abit introduced flipped classes which are so called because the traditional way of conducting lectures in a classroom and doing assignments at home is inverted. Recorded lectures and readings are accessed remotely at the convenient time and place of students, while homework are done in the classroom. This way, Dr. Abit found out from the survey they conducted, students and teachers have more time to discuss and ask questions in the classroom.

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This lecture is part of the seminar series conducted by Dr. Abit during his three-week visit at VSU. Participants to the seminar are students, college and senior high school instructors, and faculty members of the College of Education at VSU.