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Experimental Education Implemented at NTHU
Experimental education in Taiwan now extends from primary and secondary school to university. An experimental education program proposed by NTHU has been approved by the Ministry of Education for a total of seven sophomores, each of whom has designed their own curriculum for the next three years and selected their advisor. Credit for overseas study can also be earned. Now university education can be tailor made to allow for maximum freedom.
 
Breaking the Credit Mold
 
In 2015 NTHU set up the Extraordinary Student Program which grants admission based an interview rather than standardized tests. In order to meet the needs of these students, Tsinghua launched the Individualized Education Plan last year to provide a more flexible and diverse curriculum. However, some students still felt that this was inadequate. It is expected that the Tsinghua Experimental Education Program will help to solve this problem.
 
According to NTHU’s Vice President of Academic Affairs Tai Nyan-Hwa, the newly-developed Experimental Education Program breaks all the learning and credit molds. There are almost no other restrictions besides the 28 compulsory credits still required. Students in the program can major in Waldorf education, STEAM education, innovative education, or e-commerce, taking classes on campus or off campus, as long as their plan is approved by the supervising committee.
 
For example, Tai said that in most of the counterpart programs at other universities, the scope for selecting coursework is highly limited. By contrast, students in the NTHU program largely design their own curriculum, as long as their plan is approved by their committee.
 
Off Campus Credits
 
Tai said that the students' coursework can include general classes, atypical classroom courses, off-campus internships, and international study. Students are encouraged to study in different fields and regions. Some students' study plans include going overseas to study and engage in fieldwork, and one student is planning to act as a citizen journalist and write an in-depth research report.
 
Tai said that each experimental student is guided by an advisory committee of 3-5 members headed by a full-time teacher at NTHU.
 
Application is Open to All
 
In addition to each of the more than 20 students who are enrolled in the special admission program, the experimental education program is also open to 1% of the college students in any department. "This year there wasn’t much time to apply, but I believe that there will be quite a few general students applying to the program next year," said Tai.
 
Tai pointed out that all students participating in the experimental education program must complete a special report and publish it publicly before graduation. As for the degree earned, it will be either a B.S. or B.A., depending on the student’s curriculum, and can also indicate the student’s specialization.
 
If a student in the experimental program finds it unsuitable, he can switch to a conventional program. Tai said that the experimental students can return to their original department.
 
Tai also said that the experimental education program will definitely not be easier than the general academic system, and that students in the program have to be highly motivated and independent. He also stressed that experimental education is not suitable for everyone. If college students are uncertain about their future career, it may be safer to choose an existing department.
 
Exploring New Directions
 
Su Chi Wei, who has won four RoboCup championships, entered NTHU under the special admissions program a year ago and is about to enter his sophomore year. He originally joined the Department of Industrial Engineering and Industrial Management, but after starting his own business he decided to apply to the Tsinghua Experimental Education Program.
 
Su Chi-Wei said that he wanted to major in STEAM education, which integrates science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. The experimental education program allows him to freely choose various courses he wants to study, such as brain science.
 
Li Meng Yi, who gained special admission based on his expertise in magic squares and transferred to the Department of Computer Science in his sophomore year has also decided to join the first batch of experimental education students at NTHU.
 
Li Meng Yi said that it is great to be able to study at NTHU due to its constant striving to improve the educational environment. He has already completed an internship with a foreign company and has opened a magic box course. The experimental program allows him to give more importance to internship and practice, rather than sitting in the classroom to listen to theoretical courses.
 
Lin Fangru, who was admitted under the special admissions program and then joined the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, is majoring in "Socio-cultural Analysis and Innovation." She said that Tsinghua’s Experimental Education Program is student-centered and encourages individuality.
 
One of the unsolved issues regarding the Experimental Education Program is how it will work out if a graduate of the program applies to graduate school. However, Lin expects that completing the program will provide her with a wide range of future career choices.
 
Comparison Chart of the Experimental Education Program and the Individualized Education Plan
 

 

Experimental Education Program

Individualized Education Plan

Who can apply

  • Students admitted by the special admission program
  • 1% of Ordinary students in each college

Students admitted by the special admission program

Time to apply

Second semester of freshman year

Second semester of freshman year

Credits required

  • 28 required credits
  • 100 elective credits

 

  • 28 required credits
  • Choose two specialization courses (each 27 to 38 credits) or one specialization course with two credits (15 credits each)

Guidance

Students organize an advisory group with 3-5 teachers inside and outside the school

Existing counseling mechanism (advisor and counseling center)

Graduation report

Required

None

Degree

B.A. or B.S. with specialization

Department studied in plus specialization


 

Li Meng Yi (left) and Su Chi-Wei (right), both entered Tsinghua University under the Extraordinary Student Program and have now joined the Experimental Education Program.

Li Meng Yi (left) and Su Chi-Wei (right), both entered Tsinghua University under the Extraordinary Student Program and have now joined the Experimental Education Program.


Lin Fangru, who was admitted under the Extraordinary Student Program has also joined the Experimental Education Program.

Lin Fangru, who was admitted under the Extraordinary Student Program has also joined the Experimental Education Program.


Li Meng Yi is planning to design a magic square workshop.

Li Meng Yi is planning to design a magic square workshop.


Su Chi-Wei is an expert in robotics and is planning to specialize in STEAM education.

Su Chi-Wei is an expert in robotics and is planning to specialize in STEAM education.


Citizen journalist Li is planning to write a report on experimental education.

Citizen journalist Li is planning to write a report on experimental education.


Dean of Academic Affairs Tai Nyan-Hwa, the newly-developed Experimental Education Program breaks all the learning and credit molds.

Dean of Academic Affairs Tai Nyan-Hwa, the newly-developed Experimental Education Program breaks all the learning and credit molds.

 

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