University Faculty Development in Gaza (2011-2013)

CIE implemented a two-year project in collaboration with Al-Azhar University in Gaza, Palestine.  Funded by the World Bank through the Palestinian Ministry of Education, the "Faculty Development in Foundations" project assisted education faculty from three universities in Gaza to improve the quality of instruction in their teacher education program.  A needs assessment and two-week training in Gaza confirmed that these education faculty, who mostly teach large classes (100+) through a lecture-style format, wanted to know how to make such classes more creative, interactive and dialogue-based. They wanted to use technology (computers, internet, Facebook, mobile phones, course management websites) to get their students thinking critically by using more active learning techniques.  In this way, the faculty members hope that the students they teach in the university teacher education program will one day be teaching Gazan children in school using these same active teaching techniques.


As part of this effort, CIE faculty member Cristine Smith and colleague Kate Hudson welcomed Dr. Osama Hamdouna, Dr. Soliman Keshta, Dr. Yaser Salha, and Dr. Suhaib Alagha, faculty members from the three universities in Gaza, Palestine, for their second study tour to UMass. The study tour, which focused on learning more about engaged, student-centered teaching practices and teacher education, included the observation of several undergraduate and graduate teacher education and English courses here at UMass and a visit to the Renaissance Expeditionary Learning School in Springfield. 


There, the guests also met with UMass students who are currently enrolled in the TEACH 180 Days in the Springfield Secondary Teacher Education Pathway program, where they are preparing to do their student/practice teaching in the spring 2013.  Talking with those students helped the Palestinian faculty visitors to reflect on their own processes for teacher practica in Gaza. The guests also met with Dr. Joe Berger to learn about teacher education initiatives in the CIE's Afghanistan project, as well as meeting with College of Education faculty with expertise in training science and math teachers.

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