Classrooms at Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University (PMU) welcomed the application of Peer Instruction (PI) active learning approach for the first time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Dr. Valli Boobal Pillai-Batchelor, a PMU faculty, applies this approach in her Finance classes at the university’s Female Campus.
PI active learning approach is an exclusive teaching method developed and introduced by Harvard University researcher Professor of Physics, Eric Mazur, and is applied by many reputed universities worldwide.
Dr. Batchelor raised her classroom experiences to the attention of Professor Mazur – who offered to interact with her students at PMU to assess how Saudi Arabian girls can adapt to active learning approaches.
After interaction with the students through Skype, the Harvard professor said “It was clear that the active engagement fostered in Dr. Batchelor’s classroom helps students from PMU to develop a passion for learning. The way Saudi Arabian female students learn is not different than it is in any other part of the world!”
“Although the approach is unconventional for such students, improvement in learning has been enormous – as evidenced through Professor Mazur’s expert opinion and students’ personal reflections,” says Dr. Batchelor.
Student Rasha Abdullah believes “this learning approach significantly helps students to understand the concepts which they can apply to solve problems in workforce and in personal lives.”
Dr. Batchelor observed this approach by learning its insights as a student and as an expert at Australian universities – like Monash University – where PI is actively applied. She naturally used this approach in all her classes after joining PMU recently.
Dr. Philline Deraney, Associate Vice Rector-Female Campus, adds, “our students’ exposure to this student-centered approach as well as such prominent educators as Dr. Mazur is an empowering and motivating tool for them—from both learning and teaching perspectives.”
PMU Female Campus distinguishes as first Saudi Arabian University to apply PI approach for its students. Such a breakthrough brings this university into the list of modern universities worldwide which explore innovative approaches to learning.