The approach to science and engineering education in African universities is yet to adopt a focus on problem solving, innovation and creativity. Furthermore standards in these tertiary institutions have retrogressed due to severe neglect and lack of investment. Curricular and assessment methods have not adopted practices that encourage critical thinking, open ended problem solving and creativity, rather they are still built around teacher-centered lecture rooms that focus on information acquisition, memorization and regurgitation at closed book examination. Consequently, these academic institutions have not produced science and engineering graduates needed by industry to add value.
The overarching goal of MIT-ETT is to facilitate the development of young African faculty leadership in science and engineering education who will introduce innovation and creativity into science and engineering curricular. There are two main objectives of the MIT-ETT program: to provide young African professors with exposure to cutting-edge pedagogical methods in the highest-rated engineering and science departments in the U.S. and to provide American faculty who have a deep interest in connecting with those in their disciplines in emerging economies a concrete means of engagement.
In an attempt to address the problems articulated above, MIT established the MIT-Empowering the Teachers (MIT-ETT) Program lead by Professor Akintunde Ibitayo Akinwande (EECS). The program invites young, brilliant and upcoming African academics, who recently completed their doctoral degree, to spend an intensive and inclusive semester at MIT in a bid to understudy the mode (& dynamics) of curricula development and content delivery at MIT. The aim is to facilitate in African institutions improved teaching content development that is geared towards (1) students-centered content delivery (2) problem solving and (3) creativity. This amongst other things will result in the development new courses and the modification of existing curricula to ones that are geared towards critical thinking, open ended problem solving and hands-on design but also promote innovation and creativity. While at MIT, these African academics developed new course content for their home universities which are consistent with the objectives of developing these skills in their students.
During their semester at MIT, Fellows do the following:
- observe instruction in their own disciplines & subjects
- interact with MIT faculty teaching in their own disciplines & subjects
- develop courses based on problem-solving approach inspired by equivalent course at MIT
- discuss & explore curricular enrichment & reform through both formal and informal interaction with the MIT community
The ultimate goal is to reform their current curricular using new materials, approaches and methods that exemplify the best of MIT’s practices: problem-solving, student-centered, innovation and bringing knowledge to bear on the world’s greatest challenges.
Fall 2018 Fellows (September - December)
Prof. Akinwande (second left) and the Fall 2018 fellows at the Killian Court, December 2018.
Dr. Abdulkareem Abubakar, Ahmadu Bello University
This program exposed me to so many opportunities which included learning new ways of structuring and delivering course content in a manner that imparts skills of open-ended problem solving to the students.
Dr. Olawale B. AKINWALE, Obafemi Awolowo University
My trip to MIT was very eye-opening .... thanks to the program I am a better lecturer and a better person.
Dr. Mubarak D. MUHAMMAD, Bayero University, Kano
My semester at MIT exceeded my expectations by exposing me to the best content delivery method which enhances creativity and develop problem solving skills in students. I also have a deeper understanding of the structure of the undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Curriculum and how the courses can be structured to produce graduates with the required problem-solving skills.
Dr. Nehemiah S. ALOZIE, University of Lagos
The MIT – ETT program is really empowering as it is expository. MIT is a fast paced-environment, well organized, offering infinite opportunities to learn and develop through diverse people, resources and events.
Spring 2018 Fellows (February - May)
From left to right: Dr. Abubakar, Dr. Diemuodeke, Dr. Uche, and Dr. Ilori
Dr. Obioma U. UCHE, American University of Nigeria
My semester at MIT superseded my expectations .... in addition to all the other benefits the opportunity to form collaborations with faculty who have similar research interests is an invaluable one.
Dr. Ogheneruona E. Diemuodeke, University of Port Harcourt
I am now well informed of my responsibilities as an academic – teaching, research and service to the immediate communities. While I ensure that all the responsibilities are well attended to, I will use the experience gained from the MIT-ETT programme to harmonise all the responsibility for the best impact.
Dr. Olusoji O. Ilori, Obafemi Awolowo University
The program gave me a renewed motivation to teach and learn and also the opportunity to network for scholarly advancement. These opportunities place one in a position to influence the teaching process in Nigeria.
Dr. Usman Abubakar, Ahmadu Bello University
MIT-ETT targets young faculties who in turn will have direct contact with thousands of Nigerian students every session. So, in a few years to come, Nigerian Universities will be turning out thousands of problem solvers who will drive the industries, government agencies, institutions, etc.!