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Learning concept in Southeast Asia

A key challenge in Asia, especially at the undergraduate level, is to provide both a strong conceptual base and a practical application of concepts. Much university education is perceived as unconnected to the real world, with no need to apply any of it to actual business practice or real management decisions.

Part-time jobs, in which students might gain some experience, are far less common than in the West. But cultural elements can inhibit use of experiential learning, for example acceptable ways to interact in any interpersonal concept can be quite different and in some systems simply getting the right answer by any means is most important. Individual students usually do not like to speak up and offer opinions in class; they might lose face if the answer is wrong. Even if it is right, it is not very polite for individuals to stand out. Also teachers are highly regarded in the social hierarchy and therefore it is not safe to offer an opinion before knowing how well it matches the teachers’.

The traditional education system is not well suited to experiential learning without substantial adaption. In most experiential learning approaches, the students have significant responsibility for their own learning and contribute much of the information to classroom discussion while the teacher mainly takes the role of a coach. But in the traditional system, learning is more passive. It is the teachers’ responsibility to tell the students the right answers. The students are not responsible for contributing to the development of the right answer.

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