Students from Chinese university learn new teaching skills at UNT

Students from China are learning new teaching strategies and methods at the University of North Texas' Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation in the College of Education, thanks to a unique student exchange partnership with a leading Chinese university.

Undergraduate students at East China Normal University have traveled to Denton to study sport pedagogy, which is the study of physical education and sports programs, and other subjects in the department.

According to Tao Zhang, associate professor of sport pedagogy, students in the two-year-old exchange program receive a number of benefits.

"They learn a lot about how to teach diverse groups of students," said Zhang. "They also get to improve their English proficiency, and they get to meet, interact with, and make friends with students from many other cultures, too."

Students in the program take physical education teaching methods courses at UNT and observe PE classes in local elementary and middle schools under the guidance of Xiangli Gu, assistant professor of sport pedagogy. Students also will be assisting with the Tai Chi program for Seniors in Motion in Denton.

Allen Jackson, chair of the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion and Recreation, said exposure to multiple styles of learning gives the students the opportunity to improve their own ability to teach.

"American teaching and learning in America are generally more inquiry- or discovery-based," said Jackson. "In China, it's more straightforward, structured and linear. Both styles have benefits, and learning about both styles improves their teaching skills tremendously."

Jackson said outreach to China is an important goal of the university, and the exchange program helps spread word of UNT's programs around the globe.