2005: PKAL/China thoughts

Stuart Birnbaum reflects on his personal experiences with the PKAL/China collaborations.

During the Summer of 2005, and again in November of 2005, I had the fortunate opportunity to participate in the PKAL-China initiative. What became clear as a result of this activity is that both Chinese and American faculty have the same concerns regarding their students and their professions.

Student engagement, authentic assessments, and undergraduate research head a list of issues we think about. A great deal can be learned from each side of the Pacific. The appropriate use of technology, assigning homework, group learning, and peer led teaching are just some of the topics discussed in both formal and informal sessions during the November, 2006 PKAL-China symposium on STEM education. New collaborations and friendships were developed and, I am sure, old friendships renewed.

As a product of my PKAL-China experience I have invited a Chinese professor to spend a year at my institution beginning in the summer of 2006. I have been invited to take students to study with me in China and will try to do so in 2007. I have taken one Chinese class and hope to take additional classes (it is a difficult language but I am slowly improving). I find that my PKAL-China experience has invigorated my teaching, reinforced ideas and introduced new ideas.