While early education may have different names across countries, universities are generally referred to by the same name worldwide. However, there are significant differences in teaching methods among universities. As an exchange student from NTU, I’ve noticed some notable distinctions in the teaching approach at Drexel University.
One major difference lies in the teaching methods employed for modules. At Drexel, the modules I enrolled in primarily rely on lectures as the main mode of instruction, without tutorials or laboratory sessions. This streamlined approach offers a less packed timetable compared to the system back home. Moreover, professors at Drexel often allocate time for questions during lectures and pace the lessons in a manner that facilitates better comprehension. This contrasts with the fast-paced, content-intensive lectures I experienced in Singapore.
Another distinguishing factor is the level of student participation during lessons. While this observation may be influenced by my engineering course, I noticed that student engagement in class is significantly higher at Drexel. Students readily participate by answering questions and seeking clarification when in doubt. In contrast, NTU students tend to exhibit a more passive engagement style, often relying on anonymous survey questions for interaction. Queries are typically addressed after class or through emails to professors.
The duration of the school term at Drexel is relatively short, which can be quite demanding due to the multitude of submissions and quizzes within this compressed timeframe. However, considering the comparatively lesser volume of content taught, the workload remains manageable. It requires efficient time management and adaptation to the accelerated pace.
Furthermore, the assessment methods at Drexel differ from what I am accustomed to. In some modules, a significant portion of the final grade is based on continuous assessment, including regular quizzes, assignments, and participation. On the other hand, NTU tends to have a heavier reliance on final exams or larger summative assessments at the end of the semester. Both methods of assessment have their respective pros and cons and I am still on the fence about which one I prefer. While having continuous assessments may seem less daunting, in some instances you may need more than a week to wrap your head around certain concepts that are better understood after a longer period of time.
In conclusion, while universities worldwide share common features such as vibrant student life and lecture halls, the teaching methods can vary significantly. At Drexel University, the emphasis on lecture-based instruction, active student participation, and a shorter school term has provided me with a fresh perspective on academia. These differences have presented both challenges and opportunities for personal and academic growth during my exchange experience at Drexel.