The Military Academy of Malaysia Compared with West Point
Learning Environments and New Technology
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This dissertation compares the learning environment of elite military academies in the U.S. and Malaysia, namely the United States Military Academy, New York (West Point) and the Military Academy of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (MAM). The dissertation began as an investigation of the place of e-learning and simulation technologies in educating future military officers. It was assumed that as modern technologies for war and defence have changed, so too must the military academies accommodate to that – especially in producing the right kind of officers who will lead the defence of the nation. Research in West Point and the MAM, however, revealed much more significant and deeper differences between the two learning environments. These are also analysed in this dissertation on the basis of in-depth interviews with staff at both academies and responses to some 241 questionnaires returned by the cadets.
One of the most important findings in this study is that the learning environment at West Point is informed by theThayer System which, in turn, is based on principles strongly reminiscent of the constructivist school of pedagogical inquiry. The impact of the Thayer System on the learning environment is analysed, as are the essential features of constructivism. In Malaysia, by contrast, the learning environment in the academy is driven by teacher-oriented practices that are not sensitive to the needs of students. Moreover, the broader authoritarian tendencies in Malaysia have encouraged the entrenchment of didactic modes of teacher-student exchanges in the classroom. These were found not to be conducive to creative, student-centred learning processes capable of producing the kind of officers who can lead the Malaysian military at a time of growing regional insecurity in the Asia Pacific.
About the Author
Dr. Juhary is a member of the Centre for Liberal and Language Studies. Her research interests include educational technologies, military education and learning environment, and cross-cultural communication.