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Sept. 27, 2000
OSWEGO -- Dr. Alfred Frederick, professor of curriculum and instruction at Oswego State, has received his second Fulbright Scholar award to lecture and conduct research in Benin -- his third Fulbright award.
He will continue the work he began last year in the West African country, formerly known as Dahomey. He will teach curriculum development and multicultural education at the Universite Nationale du Benin in Cotonou and conduct research designed to identify the factors that can influence whether a new curriculum is adopted successfully.
"I had never gone and taught for an extended period in Africa before," he said. "It was a delight."
The students' evaluations of Frederick's courses show they were often thrilled to have an American teacher, both to learn a new approach to curriculum development and teaching and to try out their English. Frederick taught in both French and English.
He and a group of educators at the Universite Nationale du Benin designed a series of seminars on educational research and development to expand this cross-cultural experience this year. Frederick invited 18 educators from United States universities, including several from Oswego, to travel to Benin to conduct seminars at points throughout the year. Dr. Jefferey Gorrell of Auburn University and Dr. Michael Conniff of the University of South Florida will be among the first, visiting in December.
The seminars are designed to establish links of cooperation in cross-cultural research and professional development, Frederick said.
While in Benin this year, Frederick will continue cross-cultural research he began with a pilot study last year there. In collaboration with others, he has developed survey instruments, called "Dimensions of Excellence," in both the French and Fon languages of Benin to study the effectiveness of classroom communication.
He said he plans to continue the study in Benin and eventually also in Brazil, where he went on his first Fulbright Scholar award, and in the United States.
Designing curricula that are relevant to a people's socio-cultural reality has been the focus of Frederick's career since his research in Nigeria in the 1970s. He said his experience there showed him that even the best designed curriculum and most up-to-date educational practices can fail to gain a foothold in a school system if the people charged with implementing it do not understand it or support it.
"We have to have faculty that accept and feel comfortable with the new curriculum, the content as well as the strategies and techniques," he said.
In Benin, a primary level curriculum has been newly developed with the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. "We would like to join forces to look at those external factors that can serve as impediments to the successful implementation of the new primary school curriculum," Frederick said.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's flagship program in international educational exchange.
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