Question: What do cars, the subtleties of Korean food, the Finnish education system, and European soccer have in common?
Answer: They were all conversation starters for Dr. Aaron Imig and the two other international speakers at South Korea’s very first International Conference for Innovation in Korean Education.
This past August, Corban’s Director of Graduate Education and Assistant Professor of Education Aaron Imig traveled to South Korea for a whirlwind trip, during which he presented at the Conference for Innovation in Education. He was one of three international guests invited to speak, including a guest from Finland, who presented on the Finnish education system, and a professor from Germany, who shared about vocational training in education.
The conference was designed by the newly-elected Korean government, which desired to give the Korean education system a boost—particularly, strategies and tools to become more innovative. To that end, close to 1500 educators from the 17 different provinces in South Korea gathered to learn from international speakers at the education conference this past August. Even Korea’s Prime Minister for Education was in attendance, and offered the welcome and opening remarks.
Question: How did one of Corban University’s faculty members end up presenting alongside Finnish and German speakers in South Korea?”
Answer: During the past year, two other Corban faculty members, Dr. Jim Dyer and Dr. Sang-Eun Dyer, had been on sabbatical in South Korea. Dr. Sang-Eun Dyer, working in Cheongju National University of Education, had been talking with a colleague, who happened to be in charge of planning the conference. When Dr. Dyer mentioned the kinds of performance evaluations Corban education students undergo, her colleague became intrigued and wanted to invite an American speaker to share about the edTPA, or Teacher Performance Assessment, which is mandated by the State of Oregon to prepare and assess teachers.
Initially, the conference committee contacted Stanford University, which had originally created the edTPA back in 2013. But due to conflicting schedules and miscommunications, Stanford was unable to attend the conference. Dr. Dyer was given the opportunity to invite one of her colleagues from Corban University instead. And so, less than four weeks before the conference, Dr. Imig found himself purchasing a plane ticket to Seoul.
Question: What, exactly, did Dr. Imig have to say at the conference?
Answer: Speaking of his portion of the conference, Dr. Imig shares, “The concept that was innovative to Korea was the idea of a performance assessment.” He explains that the Korean educational system focuses on input rather than output: that is, students go to classes, absorb as much content as they can, and then take an exam to demonstrate that they know the material. While this grounds them in theory and knowledge, it does not give them much of an opportunity to demonstrate their practical teaching skills. In Korea, student teaching is a much smaller component of a student’s education than in the States, comprising only four to nine weeks. “So they were very curious about our preparation program for pre-service teachers, and specifically how we do performance assessment.”
The edTPA is an assessment tool used by every education program in Oregon, including Corban University. Dr. Imig is quick to clarify that this assessment is not the “end-all, be-all” in performance assessments, but it’s packaged nicely, and it’s a good example of how performance assessments work, as it evaluates the student-teacher’s ability to plan out strategic lessons, instruct effectively in the classroom, and assess their own students’ progress.
“My conclusion was, ‘You need to find what works for you, but there’s value in performance assessment.’ It doesn’t need to be the TPA, but the only way to measure good teaching is to measure their teaching.”
Question: What was one of the coolest things Dr. Imig experienced in South Korea?
Answer: Presenting and participating in Q & A sessions with a translator felt “straight out of the movies,” Dr. Imig recalls. Even his PowerPoint slides had been translated into Korean. The language barrier “created some difficulties, but it was fun,” he says. That, and the Korean pizza he ate which was topped with octopus legs.