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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