Barbara Kruchin: Using ALP Pedagogy to Help Improve Education in Brazil

Over the summer, Barbara Kruchin, lecturer in the American Language Program, collaborated with a large international education company to train its Brazilian staff. The goal was to instruct the people who would go on to train teachers both in the private and the public sector, with the objective of improving education in Brazil and its impact on students.

Implementing the skills she has honed at the School of Professional Studies, Kruchin emphasized the value of three main pedagogical methods: active learning, cooperative learning, and ongoing assessment. “Through active learning, instead of just receiving information and processing it, students have different ways to learn content,” she explains. “They participate more and are more engaged, negotiating information with each other. For example, in math class in lower grades, students would cook and then learn division by dividing cakes and pizzas: this makes them actively involved in discovering new information rather than just receiving it, [which is what happens] in a more formal, traditional method.”

Kruchin explains how she described ongoing assessment (another important pedagogical method) to her trainees: “You don't just teach the students something and then have them sit down to take a quiz; the assessment is an integral and ongoing element of teaching.” This is achieved by, for example, “having the students take part in activities where you can tell if they have grasped the content, like a debate about the issues that they’ve been studying. By observing the debate, the teacher can understand who has the better understanding of the content and who might need more help,” while still having the students engage in active learning.

Kruchin said that although she has participated in similar programs in the past, her experience in Brazil “broadened [her] international perspective.” It exemplified how “the expertise of SPS is not confined to the classroom or online: it spreads internationally. [We] share our expertise and influence what’s happening in education in other countries” as “a continuation of the ALP’s objective, which is to serve an international community at large at various levels.”