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Renovating teaching methods in social sciences and humanities at the Signal Officer College

Over the past years, the Signal Officer College has focused on leading and directing the synchronous implementation of solutions to renovate teaching methods in social sciences and humanities towards developing learners' competencies. The important initial results have contributed to improving the quality of education and training of the College. However, to well implement this content, it is necessary to study and propose suitable and effective solutions.

In the face of the requirements for fundamental and comprehensive renovation in education and training and improvement of the quality of teaching the social sciences and humanities, the Signal Officer College (SOC) has focused on leading, directing, and synchronously implementing solutions to renovate teaching methods in social sciences and humanities towards developing learners' competencies, and certain results have contributed to improving the quality of training of Signal officers to meet the requirements of tasks. The College has initially drawn a number of experiences to serve as a basis for directing and applying to renovating teaching methods in social sciences and humanities.

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Firstly, renovating teaching methods in social sciences and humanities towards developing learners’ capabilities must be based on teaching perspectives and objectives. Renovating teaching methods does not mean to change the objectives but the way to achieve such objectives i.e. changing the way of teaching and learning to achieve the objectives in the fastest and most effective manner, based on the cooperation between instructors and learners and based on the student-centered approach. Instructors are the organisers of the cognitive process, guide learners to self-study, explore, and discover, act as the “referees”, and lead them to correct knowledge. Secondly, renovating teaching methods must ensure the consistency between traditional experience with modernity and the linkage between renovating and perfecting teaching methods. Renovating teaching methods is to change the existing teaching methods with new ones. Meanwhile, perfecting teaching methods is to objectively and seriously assess the existing and traditional teaching methods to promote the rational factors and eliminate those are irrelevant. Then, new factors are supplemented, and the contents of the methods are developed and expanded to make the teaching and learning more effective. It is also necessary to avoid the extremes: complete negation of traditional teaching methods or absolutisation of new ones, or being conservative, indifferent, and afraid of renovating, or sticking to the old and the outdated methods. Thirdly, in renovating teaching methods in a specific lesson, it is necessary to combine instructors’ presentations with learners’ self-study, instructor-learner exchange, and peer-to-peer exchange. Instructors should minimise one-way transmission or provide available knowledge but encourage learners’ active thinking. All methods, forms of organisation, and means of teaching should be flexibly leveraged to create favorable conditions for learners to conduct self-study and develop personal capabilities, activeness, and autonomy. Finally, the renovation must be based on the actual qualifications, competences, and experiences of instructors as well as the levels and competences of learners and assurance conditions. It must be carried out gradually and firmly in relation to other factors of teaching process.

To meet the requirements of fundamental and comprehensive renovation of education and training and improvement of the teaching staff’s quality of education and training, it is required to continue synchronously implementing solutions to improve the quality of teaching in social sciences and humanities. Particularly, the following contents should be paid much attention:

Firstly, to continue raising consciousness and professional and pedagogic levels for instructors. They should be fully aware that renovating teaching methods in social sciences and humanities towards developing learners’ competencies is an urgent and objective requirement - the nucleus in implementing programs and contents and direct conditions to improve teaching quality. Hence, this is both a must-met requirement and an opportunity for them to grow.

Through training, teaching practice, self-study, and self-research, instructors should improve their qualifications, especially specialised knowledge, Marxist-Leninist views, and Ho Chi Minh Thoughts, the Party's guidelines and policies and update new knowledge and changes in training contents, programs, etc. Along with that, it is necessary to train instructors' pedagogical skills, unify the teaching perspectives and objectives, and design of lectures, and foster with pedagogical psychology, theories of teaching methods, innovation of higher-education teaching methods, and pedagogic styles. Instructors should be provided with skills to flexibly coordinate forms of teaching organisation, ability to use teaching facilities, especially designing presentation lectures to make it rich, attractive, and supportive to learners, etc., thereby, contributing to perfecting their pedagogic skills.

Secondly, to regularly organise and direct practical activities in renovating teaching methods. Attention should be paid to organising and directing the good implementation of the plans for renovating teaching methods in social sciences and humanities in each month, semester, and academic year. Emphasis should be placed on renovating lesson plan compilation towards ensuring the orientation of shifting from instructor-oriented activity design to learner-oriented activity design. Lesson plans must really be teaching plans, in which all activities are taken into account under a reasonable process and close combination of factors of instructors, learners, curriculum, teaching equipment, etc. Stages of lesson plan evaluation and approval, examination and assessment of teaching method renovation activities, and experience drawing must be well implemented to guide and direct instructors. Attention should be paid to fostering, building correct learning motivation and reasonable learning plans, and examining learners’ self-study activities.

Thirdly, to apply different teaching methods. Each teaching method has its own strengths and cannot completely replace each other. Therefore, instructors should flexibly apply and combine teaching methods to stimulate cognitive needs and promote learners’ activeness and creativeness.

Lastly, to assure facilities and effectively use teaching equipment. The assurance and effective use of teaching facilities and equipment play important roles and have reciprocal relationships to mutually support each other to provide more knowledge and experience directly related to social practice and living environments to learners in a rich, accurate, and intuitive way. At the same time, they promote the communication and exchange of information, increase the intensity of both instructors and learners, shorten teaching time while ensuring learners full awareness of contents, etc. Accordingly, it is necessary to pay attention to investing in and promoting the training institutions’ information technologies and digital applications to ensure good teaching facilities and equipment, especially textbooks and references, learning movies, computers, projectors, and simulation software to support instructors’ activities, such as: Exploitation and analysis of learning contents, class organisation and management, testing and evaluation, etc.

Improving the quality of teaching in social sciences and humanities needs to promote the overall power of different factors, among which, renovating teaching methods towards developing competencies is one of the most important solutions. Therefore, organisations and forces should uphold their sense of responsibility and determination to well implement the above basic solutions to contribute to improving the quality of education and training to meet the requirements of Army building in the new situation.

Senior Colonel, Ph.D. HA SI CHIEN, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Signal Officer College

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