An-Najah News - There is no more pressing mission for Palestine’s higher education institutions than to prepare knowledgeable, committed, thoughtful generations and individuals to help overcome the various challenges facing Palestine today. In addition to teaching students the basic knowledge and theoretical modeling, Dr. Abdelkarim Daragmeh, an education leader and influencer at An-Najah University, is applying his knowledge and the available resources to help learners grow as individuals and to instill in them the principles of citizenship and civic service.
Dr. Daragmeh is an internationally-known expert on pedagogical methods and the scholarship of teaching, a pioneering leader among Palestinian academics, and the founder of the first and most successful Palestinian center for university teaching excellence. He has experience and connections across the Palestinian higher education sector and deep knowledge of global teaching and learning communities of practice.
He believes that higher education has a public mission that encompasses both serving today’s local communities and creating the leaders of tomorrow.Since 2011, Dr. Daragmeh has been instrumental in transforming teaching and learning across the 20,000-student An-Najah University as founder and director of the university’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). His leadership has ensured thousands of students now participate in learner-centered, collaborative classes led by faculty who participate in active conversations about the scholarship of teaching itself.
Dr. Daragmeh has developed new apprenticeship programs, academic minors, the masters' program in comparative literature, conducted formal evaluations of degree programs in varied fields across the West Bank and Gaza, and worked with complex teams to ensure reform is tied to student, community, and workplace needs.
Remarkable International Achievements
Through a variety of projects, Dr. Daragmeh has built a strong network with education experts around the Middle East, Europe, and the U.S. His early-career formal education in English and study in the U.S. also afforded him deeper understandings of international educational standards produced in English than Palestinian academics who do not have such background, while his 20 years of classroom teaching experience have underpinned his understanding of the connection between theory and practice.
Dr. Daragmeh's efforts were crowned this year in leading the university teams to win the prestigious Times Higher Education Oscar Award 2020. An-Najah University won the Oscar Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year Award for its "Najah Community Pathways Program". This service-learning program, originally initiated by a group of dedicated academic staff members, has transformed the learning and teaching experience for thousands of students, instilled important values in Palestinian youth and completed hundreds of projects for the benefit of community organizations, e.g. building Geographic Information Systems for city councils, awareness videos for victims of child abuse, designing nutrition protocols for diabetic patients. Commenting on the educational value of community-based learning, Dr. Daragmeh said: "I have always believed that a proper education doesn’t just teach students how to make a living but actually teaches them how to live by instilling values and morals. Engaging students in community service instills citizenship in a way that no other classroom experience can do. It ignites imaginations, engages minds and bodies , and gives students a sense of pride and inspiration".
The Times Higher Education Award finalists came from Hong Kong, South Korea, Turkey, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia, which are all prominent Universities in Asia. CPP was announced as the winner of the Asia Award in November of 2020.
Founder of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
Dr. Daragmeh is the founder and leader of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT). The center offers services for University students from all faculties and disciplines through improving the teaching and learning environments. Together with a team of dedicated fellows, Dr. Daragmeh has led education change through hosting and supporting innovation in teaching and learning from across disciplines.
“At CELT, we try to increase the space for the learners,” Dr. Daragmeh said. We have been working on changing the role of the teacher from an instructor into a guide. We train teachers on coaching students into improving the quality of their products by directing them without interfering in their project ideas. Thus we gradually move towards learning situations where students are not passive in their lectures, but productive and active ones."
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