Published on October 31, 2016 by Katie Stewart  
OBBSOE building

Building up strong leaders with qualified skill sets is at the forefront of Samford’s educational mission. The university promotes this through a variety of facets but was realized in its full potential when Jodi Newton, associate dean of Orlean Beeson School of Education, and Robin Duncan, former education faculty member, took a trip to the Lampung territory in Indonesia where they presented research to more than 30 Indonesian teachers. 

Newton and Duncan, both Samford alumnae, traveled to Indonesia for a four-day presentation on work previously published by Newton and Betty Winches. The presentation was centered on “The Big Five: How to Maximize Student Learning.” With the help of two translators, Newton and Duncan presented a theoretical framework based on research on how best to best increase student achievement. The end goal was for these Indonesian teachers to become innovative and engaging educators in their classrooms. 

“It was encouraging to someone who has been in education my entire career to see that teachers all over the world really want to maximize the learning process for students,” Newton said. “In our sessions, we taught them how to be more engaging and have positive relationships with their students. This is something they requested to learn, and we were very fortunate to share these ideas we practice at Samford every day with them.” 

The five ideas presented were as follows:

1. Make clear what students are learning in the form of clear learning goals.
2. Build positive teacher/student relationships to become a team in pursuit of accomplishing the learning goal.
3. Ask students the right questions and encourage students to ask questions in response.
4. Use formative assessments to ensure students are learning the desired goal and to know what students need to learn next.
5. Prepare plans and frameworks ahead of time, but consistently tweak the plan based on the students. 

“The idea of students asking questions or teachers striving for positive relationships with their students was of great interest to this group of educators,” Newton said. “It went beyond a translation barrier to a fundamental difference in how we educate. There is a huge desire to learn new methods and become innovative in the classroom in this particular community.” 

Teachers engaged in hands-on activities and small-group learning sessions to apply theories from the presentation. At the end of the four days, teachers were empowered with the knowledge to lead the way for improved student learning in their classrooms, Newton added. 

Katie Stewart is marketing and communication coordinator for Orlean Beeson School of Education.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.