Academic Philosophy

CUIB’S ACADEMIC PHILOSOPHY

CUIB’s educational philosophy provides each student with individual guidance in his or her process of learning and personal development. We recognize that each individual, created in the image and likeness of God has a unique background, knowledge, experience, and personality and that all of these factors affect the learning process. Each student is treated as an individual and assisted in reaching his or her full potential and growth.

CUIB’s educational philosophy provides each student with individual guidance in his or her process of learning and personal development. We recognize that each individual, created in the image and likeness of God has a unique background, knowledge, experience, and personality and that all of these factors affect the learning process. Each student is treated as an individual and assisted in reaching his or her full potential and growth.

The educational philosophy, based on the Focolare Economy of Communion (EoC) experience is designed to develop in the individual the capacity to think critically, be creative, accept and fulfill responsibilities, work effectively in teams (EoC teams), reason, analyze and propose options for the resolution of problems, develop a deep sense of God’s calling to be collaborators in creation and to become lifelong learners.

This requires a change in the traditional teacher-student roles. Rather than providing knowledge and transmitting information to their students, CUIB lecturers strive to be facilitators of a high-quality and holistic learning process. The student is also an active participant, learning through real-life experiences in a process known as experiential learning.

Learning takes place through planned activities, independent projects, classes based on active participation, laboratory and field work, field trips, internships, cooperative education, and extracurricular activities such as EoC hour for the celebration of the Eucharist, prayer and meditation, clubs, special projects proposed by students, sports and recreation, and the annual trade fair planned and organized by the University with the participation of each school.

The four-year program is broken down into two semesters per year.

Year One (Freshman): Introduce Concepts

The curriculum consists of activities and courses that cover specific material in a logical and sequential manner. The first year, known as the freshman year, introduces concepts and abilities essential to student’s area of study as well as beginning to address the related sciences. Students begin to develop a global vision of their area of study – Engineering, agriculture and resources, Information Technology, and Business – taking social and economic factors into account while focusing on the immediate environment. Basic intellectual abilities are strengthened, as well as manual and mechanical skills.

Year Two (Sophomore): Introduce Practice

In the second year, sophomore year, students consolidate and deepen their knowledge and skills in the fields of their study. They also continue to develop basic concepts and abilities in the related sciences.

Year Three (Junior): Reinforce Practice

Third-year students, junior year, students begin to specialize in specific areas of their choice and have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills in the sustainable management of a business in that domain. The curriculum also strengthens students’ professional attitudes and skills to assure positive interactions with others in the Business world. Academically, the third year focuses on the development of practical skills (hands-on) and a more in-depth understanding of the business and entrepreneurial world.

Year Four (Senior): Demonstrate and Integrate Practice

During the fourth year, senior year, students must exhibit their intellectual and professional abilities in analysis, synthesis, critical thinking and creativity by identifying and solving problems related to their areas of specialization to enhance sustainable management processes. The learning process is structured to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their professional abilities by writing project based on their work experience or cooperative education.

CUIB’s curriculum as an Entrepreneurial University includes four major domains based on experiential learning:

The Entrepreneurial Project

Through a sequence of modules, the entrepreneurial project helps the student to develop the aptitude and an attitude for business, by integrating the technical, economic, environmental, and social aspects of business management. At the end of the sequence of modules, the student is able to create his or her own business in a sustainable manner. To achieve these objectives, the student participates in the planning and application of feasibility studies, including the business aspects of marketing, administration, budgeting, finances, and social and environmental impacts. As an essential part of the project, the student uses an experiential learning focus whereby he/she works with a team to organize a business, analyze and evaluate problems, make decisions, carry out field work, and scrutinize the performance of his/he business.

This is a long-term course. The course begins in the 1st Year and concludes in the 1st semester of the Senior Year. Throughout these years of the course, the student learns piece by piece the information that is instrumental for the formation of a successful project. The modules serve as support and training that supplements the work that the student is carrying out in his/her entrepreneurial project. NB. As an institutional policy, students will not be allowed to graduate if they do not validate all Entrepreneurial (ENP) courses.

Internships – Freshman Year/Sophomore Year

The internship represents a structured experience that allows the student to integrate and apply the theory, skills, and attitudes in a work environment; to demonstrate professional and ethical behavior; to prepare an analysis of the community; and to develop a project which benefits the community. Each student is placed within an organization in accordance with his/her learning interests, in an environment that fits with his/her professional objectives.

At the end of each internship experience the student prepares a presentation or report to help him/her examine and evaluate his/her internship experiences. The report offers the student an opportunity to reflect back on his/her experiences, on what he/she has learned, and on how he/she has changed, as a result of the internship.

Internship opportunities allows students to demonstrate increased knowledge, problem-solving ability, ability to understand people in work settings, or some other significant personal growth at the result of their internship experiences. Internship may include experiences such as: Field Experience, Field Trips, Practicum, and Holiday Internships.

Work Experience/Cooperative Education – Junior Year 2nd Semester

In the 3rd year at the University, the Work Experience program of study takes place outside of the university campus during the second semester for three (3) months – April, May and June. The student demonstrates his/her ability to interact with the community and companies. The student plans, organizes, directs, and evaluates work done by those in the field and begins to have a sense of the fact that he or she is a Job-creator versus a Job-seeker. The student submits a work report at the end of the experience.

Graduation Project (Professional Experience) – Senior Year

As a partial fulfillment of the requirement for graduation, the student plans and develops a project in which he/she demonstrates the ability to analyze and synthesize information. He/she learns to effectively communicate the results of his/her study through a dissertation of work experience project not more than 30 pages. The work must fit within the framework of the institutional priorities and research norms. The student will be expected to produce 5 copies, 3 for the panel of examiners or moderators, 1 for the library and 1 for personal use.

In order to train entrepreneurs who will be job creators versus Job seekers, professional universities must embrace a system of student assessment that is beyond the traditional Standardized Tests system or faculty-made tests. In addition, students of the 21st Century, an “information age” need a kind of higher – order thinking skills in terms of critical thinking, creativity, thinking for Understanding and Transfer and problem solving which Standardized Tests alone cannot totally capture. CUIB in the academic year 2013/2014 adopted a balanced approach to students’ assessment by allocating 50 % of the scores to Standardized tests at the end of the semester and 50 % to authentic assessment as advocated by John Dewey and other progressives in the 21st century. This approach is an improvement of the former which placed more emphasis on Standardized tests (60%) in theory but actually 80% in practice and 40 % in hands on assessment in theory but actually 20%. Such a system of evaluation cannot carry students to the Level that is required for authentic and effective professionals and entrepreneurs. In life almost everything we do requires using knowledge in some way, not just knowing it.

Fundamentally, authentic assessment is a way of capturing and somewhat formalizing the myriad of things that perceptive teachers and lecturers have always considered about what is happening to their students. In authentic assessment, the tasks students undertake are more practical, realistic, and challenging than traditional paper-and-pen tests. Students are engaged in more meaningful, context-bound activities, focusing their energies on “challenging, performance-oriented tasks that require analysis, integration of knowledge and invention. A number of scholars link authentic assessment with constructivism, a theory that views knowledge as something constructed by individual human beings, not merely discovered. Based on this theory, constructive teachers, the CUIB way or approach, are teachers who assist their students in resolving their cognitive conflicts and in exploring ideas and concepts in order to create knowledge. In CUIB for instance, dictating notes in class is prohibited and seminars have been organized to help faculty adopt the constructive approach to teaching, learning and assessment.

One of the positive aspects of authentic assessment is that it focuses on the tasks that students will encounter in the world outside of the university and also how students go about solving problems as well as the solutions they formulate. This paradigm shift in assessment is critical if we as a nation are to produce a new breed of Cameroonians who shall be able not only to achieve vision 2035 but shall remain relevant in an “information age” and in challenging the global socio-economic environment. Amongst the techniques that CUIB has highlighted in assessing students, two are worth noting: performance tasks and portfolios of student work.

In the first place, performance tasks are planned parts of regular classroom instruction. They are specific, concrete tasks that students perform as part of their course work. This involves designing and presenting projects, technical papers, reports, individual and group projects, field trips, problem-solving tasks, journals, computer simulations, role playing, reports based on reflective/critical thinking and team interviewing just to mention a few.

Another technique of assessing students that is central to the movement for authentic assessment is the use of Portfolios. The idea of a portfolio is derived from the world of art. Artists create collections of their work and display much about them both professionally and personally. Applied to education in general and to CUIB in particular, the creation of Portfolios suggests that what the student has learned is most authentically demonstrated by what the student creates over a period of time, not by tests given at specific times during the semester. The merits of Portfolios lie in the fact that they require the student to take responsibility for what he or she has learned. Given the responsibility that students must take for their own learning, it become incumbent upon them to demonstrate what they have learned and not simply wait for their lecturers to discover for themselves. Therefore, the use of student –initiated projects is an integral part of authentic assessment, and portfolios of student work are perhaps the most telling form of demonstration.

Portfolios can include finished work of students, essays, team or group activities, experiments, Teacher comments, Research notes, drafts, demonstration of skills, preliminary models and plans, logs and other records, written work, audiotapes, videotapes, photographs and other artifacts. It is important that students decide what to create and what to include in their portfolios taking into consideration what they have learned in the course. Lecturers are then called upon to assess not only the final product but the processes which students have followed in producing that product. In CUIB, Portfolios of Student Work and Presentation carry 10 marks of the total course score. In addition, a special week is assigned for students to present their Portfolios to the course instructor. Below is an overview of CUIB’s comprehensive system of assessment which includes: Class attendance and participation; 2 Quizzes per each semester; Base Group work and Presentation; Portfolio of Student Work and Presentation and end of Semester organized Standardized examination.

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