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University professor to travel to India to train educators

Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s Chaya Gopalan, PhD, has received a Fulbright Academic and Professional Excellence Award presented by the U.S. Department of State and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, supporting her international application of flipped classroom techniques.

Gopalan is a professor in both the SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior’s Department of Applied Health and the School of Nursing’s Department of Nurse Anesthesiology. She will travel to India for her sabbatical during fall 2022 to train educators at Rural College Kanakapura on the use of the flipped classroom techniques in STEM classrooms.

“The Fulbright award is a widely recognized, prestigious award,” said Gopalan. “I am grateful to be the recipient of such an honor. Having grown up with the educational practice in India to using cutting-edge instructional techniques in my classrooms in the United States, it will be a rewarding experience to share innovative teaching methods with educators in India. I am excited to help inspire educators and foster student engagement in the classroom.”

During her multi-phased project, she plans to spend three months on the first visit to provide faculty development workshops and implementation of training. The second phase of the project will examine the effectiveness of flipped teaching strategies and offering advanced training. The final phase will help faculty expand implementation further and share their experiences locally, regionally, and via as many venues as possible to spread the modality widely.

“The Fulbright Scholar award offers an enormous opportunity to learn about student and faculty responses to flipped teaching in a rural college in India, increase awareness of how new instructional methods are practiced in other countries, and expand my research and networking endeavors to a higher level,” said Gopalan.

According to Gopalan, India has an enormous appetite for education with priorities including increasing access and equity and improving the quality of teaching. She will learn about the current teaching practice at Rural College Kanakapura through interviews and surveys. This will allow her to engage faculty through a training program that will introduce flipped teaching techniques. Participants will use flipped teaching in their classrooms and obtain student data that will be useful to examine faculty experiences in designing, implementing, and refining flipped teaching.

“My goal is to increase faculty knowledge, skills, positive attitudes, and intentions to use student-centered active learning methods to enhance student knowledge,” said Gopalan. “Through forming learning communities during faculty development activities, I expect a multiplier effect of sharing flipped teaching concepts among peers once these educators experience a new teaching approach and find it beneficial. It will be an exciting opportunity to spread the knowledge to improve teaching among Indian educators.”

The project will inform the degree to which flipped classrooms can be adapted for use in rural settings due to technological gaps, and will examine participants’ perceptions of the teaching method, including benefits, challenges and student outcomes. Subsequently, findings will be disseminated as presentations and publications where the participants become ambassadors of change, expanding student-centered teaching strategies.

“As a graduate of the Indian education system, I understand how training educators on flipped teaching methods will benefit them and their students,” Gopalan explained. “I am inspired to share my knowledge, especially in rural communities, and build a network of educators to help others. It will be an incredible experience, and I’m thankful for the support of SIUE and the Fulbright Program.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. The primary source of funding for the Fulbright Program is an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations in foreign countries and in the United States also provide direct and indirect support. Recipients of Fulbright grants are selected on the basis of academic or professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership in their fields. The program operates in over 160 countries worldwide.

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