Teaching at AIMS Rwanda
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is Africa’s first network of centres of excellence in mathematical sciences.
The AIMS Rwanda Center offers world-class, quality education with a unique approach where students, lecturers and tutors eat and live together in a 24-hour learning environment. The result is continuous learning in both formal and informal settings, a lot of dialogue and thought- provoking conversations that will result in creating the exceptional, independent, critical thinkers the program seeks to create.
Teaching and Learning Strategy
Teaching at AIMS is based on the principle of learning and understanding, rather than simply listening and writing, during classes; and on creating an atmosphere of increasing knowledge through small group discussions. This is achieved by formulating conjectures and assessing the evidence for them, and sometimes going down wrong paths and learning from these mistakes. The essential feature of the classes at AIMS is that, in contrast to formal lecture courses, they are highly interactive; and time is allocated for class discussions. In this way, AIMS provides a climate of interactive teaching, where students are encouraged to learn together in a journey of questioning and discovery, and where lecturers respond to the needs of the class rather than to a pre-determined syllabus. The AIMS teaching philosophy is to promote critical and creative thinking; to experience the excitement of learning from true understanding; and to avoid rote learning directed only towards assessment.
Students are helped and encouraged to develop their own ideas, both during and outside formal class times, and to absorb new ideas instead of being presented with the finished product.
The teaching at AIMS is done through self-contained (modular) courses in which the advertised content is used as a guide, and lecturers are encouraged, and expected, to adapt daily to meet the needs of the students. The challenge for the lecturers is to create a sense of enquiry in all students who come from very diverse backgrounds. Each student should develop, and succeed, from their own particular starting point. AIMS considers the journey undertaken to reach a conclusion to be as important as the conclusion itself.
Language and Communication
AIMS Rwanda is a bilingual institute (French and English) and we have students, tutors and lecturers from different nationalities. Many of our Francophone students do not speak fluent English when they arrive in August. We therefore have an English teaching program available throughout the academic period. We have one language teacher who assists the students to become as bilingual as possible by December of each year.
Teaching assistants are a fundamental feature of the AIMS model. AIMS Rwanda appoints between eight and ten advanced postgraduate students as teaching assistants. The duties of the teaching assistants are to provide assistance to the Academic Director and lecturers in matters concerning the academic program and the assessment of students. Teaching assistants attend the lecture courses; arrange additional tutorials; assist with the marking of assignments; and assist the students with computing and research project writing. Teaching assistants also provide useful information to assist the Academic Director when writing student references. Teaching assistants are recruited via an announcement through AIMS’ mailing lists. Criteria considered for selection include: academic achievement, ability to speak relevant languages, and an ability to function in the unusual AIMS teaching environment.