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This research had three aims: 1) to synthesize the data sources on the background, process, and operation of the Akita Instructional Model (AIM), 2) to investigate the process, procedures, and operation of the AIM, 3) to analyze the contextual environment and feasibility of the AIM implementation in Thailand, 4) to analyze and synthesize the process so as to develop bodies of knowledge in research operation though field study, interviews, experimentation, and group discussions. Samples included educators, teachers, students, parents and guardians, and general public. The samples were both Thais and the people of Akita.
Results showed that AIM aimed at helping students to discover the problems by themselves. It also aimed at developing students’ communication skills. Students are expected to interact with their classmates and the teachers, and discover the problems and principles by themselves. There are four steps: 1) students observe phenomena, 2) students then develop their own ideas, 3) students work in small groups discussing the issues, and 4) students review the lessons and the learning methods.
In terms of instruction, the Akita Instructional Model aims to enable the students to discover the issue or problems on their own. They are expected to communicate, interact so as to deal with the problem and solve it by themselves. As such, any endeavor to implement the model in the Thai context, Thai teachers must, first of all, change their mindset, allowing the students to take the central role in the learning process, students going about doing their own learning in the classroom. Thai teachers should adjust their role, motivating the students so that they are eager to learn. This includes setting up clear goals on what are expected to be developed in learners. Students should be encouraged to have intrinsic motivation to solve problems with curiosity to learn. The teachers should prepare in advance which part they are to teach and which part they students are to learn from group discussions. Emphasis should be put on the cultivation of independent mind with the students being able to come up with their own ideas. Besides, they are to be equipped with communication skills. Another important point to consider is ‘thinking time’ --- teachers should give enough time for the students to think over the issue or problem, and not too quick to simply give them the ‘answer’.
The application of AIM in the Thai context must be done with some awareness, especially in any attempt to adjust or change existing beliefs and practice and to follow the quality-oriented culture of Japan, which is expected to be a real challenge. However, if AIM is implemented across the subjects, levels, and is implemented in consistent and continuous manners, say for 2-3 years, positive changes would certainly emerge. Principles that could be derived from the research project that would be useful for any attempt to bring into Thailand new instructional models are the followings: (1) that model must be thoroughly understood, (2) individuals and parties involved must learn and really understand what is required and involved in real situations, (3) implementation must be accompanied by assessment in ‘doing and checking’ mode, (4) understanding of the cultural values underpinning the model is of paramount importance, (5) the practice of lesson study of the model must be done. There are 6 steps as follows: (1) learning from the visit, suing the visits as reminders, (2) communication for cordial relationship, (3) putting the heart into the trials and later the actual implementation, (4) learning from the real things and the real world, (5) reflect and learn from the experience, and (6) don’t be over optimistic. Lastly, any attempt to implement AIM in the Thai context should realize that the endeavor is bound to be a real challenge. The best approach to deal with the a[application is to develop our observational and analytical skills, that is, we must be able to see what is the heart of the model, then adapt it into the concept that is easy to understand. This would enable us to adapt it to suit our own culture without losing the original principles. On reflection, this research endeavor has enabled us to develop new research techniques, in addition to our understanding of the Akita Instructional Model (AIM), which would be useful in dealing with future educational exchanges and collaborations, expected to be more frequent in years to come.
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