My Visit's impressions and recommendations
To whom it may concern, First of all I would like to thank Mr Berik Akhmetov, the Vice-President for Academic Affairs at the H.A. Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University, and Mr. Furkat Dadazhanov, the Head of Academic Mobility Department, for inviting me in the frame of visiting Professor to deliver a number of lectures/seminar at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in the period between the 1st and 15th November 2014. I truly hope that my lectures have proved useful to all those who attended them.
Overall, I was impressed with the state in which I found the Hojja Ahmad Yassawi International Kazakh-Turkish University, including the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences where I conducted my lectures/seminars. I was particularly impressed with the large number of students studying at the University. The numbers I saw gave me a plenty of reasons to believe that Kazakhstan will have a bright future. In addition, I was very impressed upon visiting the University's Library which seems to be adequately meeting the students' demands. Moreover, some lecture halls and classrooms situated at the University's main Campus are truly up to the modern Western techonological standards.
Having stated that, still I would like to make a few observations from my recent visit in hope that the same would be taken into consideration by the University's Rectorate and worked on.
Firstly, while some students excelled in their knowledge of English most others could not converse in English and, I assume, found it quite hard to follow my lectures. Hence I suggest that a few more hours of studying English language would benefit all students now and for their future research and that is regardless of their particular field of study or department.
My second observation is regarding the classroom's teaching equipments or tools. Firstly, I was quite surprised that black boards are still used at most departments of the H.A. Yassawi University. In most world countries, black boards were replaced with whiteboards and that for obvious reasons. Moreover, in the classroom / lecture hall which I used at the Faculty of Theology and Religious
Studies, and which I believe was the best equipped classroom in the entire building, the computer mouse was malfunctioning [broken]. I'm fully aware that this is a pity or small thing but as a result we
were not able to run power point presentations. When eventually the issue with computer mouse was solved it turned out that the projector's resolution was so bad that the students and I could not read the
actual headings of my power point presentations, i.e. pretty large font-size. So although projector and desktop existed in the classroom we were unable to use them. While this instance truly speaks of the
Theology Department it could be that many other departments or faculties of the University have similar IT issues, waiting to be solved. I therefore urge the University's Main Office or Rectorate to set up an IT team overseeing all IT related issues at each Department and/or Faculty of the University.
My final observetion is regarding the actual teaching methods. The suggestion I am about to make here is based on the information shared with me by students as I had no opportunity to personally observe other live classes/lectures apart from my own. Namely, according to students reports for most lecturers there is no student-teacher interaction during a lesson. For example, the students are not told to perform any tasks during the lesson time, e.g. no group discussions, etc. Similarly, students are never given any homework, such as creating a programme or a tool, or writing a report or an assigment. Furthermore, the lecturers are not willing or perhaps capable of using modern teaching tools, such as
laptops, printers and projectors. For instance, I assume that the classroom which I used at the Theology Faculty many other lecturers use throughout the academic year however as it seems no one else needed to use the computer or the projector for delivering their lessons or lectures. This is not acceptable considering the fact that majority of students, if not all of them, had a smart phone with internet access
(3G) in the classroom. All these technological means must be utilised to their maximum for teaching and learning purposes.
I hope the above suggestions will not offend anyone but would rather serve as a reminder and a platform for making some small improvements.
Cambridge, 25 November 2014.