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AUA Launches the Spring 2023 Semester

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YEREVAN, Armenia — In a day filled with presentations, discussions, and experience exchanges, over 60 faculty members of the American University of Armenia (AUA) General Education program gathered on January 16 for the launch of the Spring 2023 semester. 

Faculty presentations and discussions covered project-based learning, formative and summative assessment, experiential learning strategies, and curricular collaborations across institutions, along with good practices in undergraduate education such as enhancing faculty-student interaction and scaffolding larger assignments.  

“Kicking off the semester with a day of thinking, sharing, and planning with AUA’s incredible faculty is the best way I can think of to focus on how to best enhance teaching, improve student learning, and work together to ensure that AUA continues to provide students with opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge necessary for addressing the changing environment they face,” stated Dr. Sharistan Melknoian, dean of General Education. 

Lecturer and Freshman English Coordinator Suzanne Daghlian, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) Dr. Hagop Yacoubian, and adjunct lecturer Norayr Benohanian discussed how to support students engaged in large, multifaceted assignments by breaking down assignments into manageable learning activities. 

Benohanian and Dr. Garabet Kazandjian, assistant professor in CHSS, shared examples from their most recent courses focused on project-based learning, highlighting the enhanced learning that happens when students interact with and address real-life problems. 

CHSS Lecturer Rubina Gasparyan led participants through a hands-on activity focusing on classroom assessment strategies. AUA instructor Andranik Margaryan then modeled a break-time stretch an energizing drill that faculty could repeat throughout their workdays. 

Featured on the day’s program was the new AI tool Chat-GPT. Drs. Brent Anders, director of AUA’s Office of Institutional Research, and Elitza Kotzeva, assistant professor in CHSS, shared information about how to utilize and adapt learning activities to this new technology. 

Associate Professor Dr. Hourig Attarian and adjunct lecturer Levon Sargsyan shared their own as well as student experiences collaborating with faculty and students from other institutions. “Co-teaching with colleagues from other institutions broadens the learning horizons of students, while creating collaborative opportunities for educators in refining cross-curricular perspectives,” noted Dr. Attarian. “By pushing students outside their comfort zones to meet and work across platforms with peers in other institutions and countries, we also assist them in honing their skills of critical thinking and communication in diverse collaborative settings.”

Gurgen Hovakimyan, a new lecturer in the College of Science and Engineering who will teach data mining, noted: “The discussions and exchanges of experience will help make teaching even more effective. I look forward to implementing some of the ideas and best practices faculty have shared to support students and provide constructive feedback to students.”

Assistant Professor and Armenian Language and Literature Coordinator Vahram Danielyan added: “The General Education faculty meeting brought together colleagues from different disciplines. It was great to meet everyone prior to the start of classes, share thoughts about different teaching experiences, and discuss the challenges we all face. I was particularly pleased with the presentation on AI and learning about the challenges and opportunities it brings to our community.”

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.