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Inaugural Symposium of C9+1 Universities in China

Re-envisioning Undergraduate Education

Overview
Common issues addressed on Day 1
Sharing of good practices on Day 2
Programme rundown and presentation materials

From left to right: Prof Liu Bin (USTC), Prof Zhou Yu (HIT), Prof Lai Maode (ZJU), Prof Xie Weihe (Tsinghua),Prof Amy Tsui (HKU), Prof Lin Jianhua (PKU), Prof Huang Zhen (SJTU), Prof Cheng Guangxu (XJTU), Prof Tan Zhemin (NJU),Prof Lu Fang (Fudan)



Overview

The symposium was held at HKU’s Council Chamber

The symposium was held at HKU’s Council Chamber

Vice-Presidents and representatives from China’s C9 Universities and HKU met on September 20 and 21, 2010 at the Inaugural Symposium of C9+1 Universities in China held at HKU.

The symposium focused on undergraduate curriculum and student learning, identifying common issues and exploring ways to work together to better prepare undergraduates to take on the challenges of the 21st century.  Specifically, two themes were addressed:

  1. revisiting the undergraduate curriculum
  2. strategies for improving teaching and learning.

Day One – Revisiting the Undergraduate Curriculum
Day 1 focused on the undergraduate curriculum, and presentations were given by all the participating universities.  A number of common issues were addressed in the presentations and discussions.

Please click the link below for a summary.
Common issues addressed on Day 1

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, Vice-Chancellor and President of HKU, delivering his welcome address

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui, Vice-Chancellor and President of HKU, delivering his welcome address

Day Two – Strategies for Improving Teaching and Learning
Day 2 focused on the strategies for improving teaching and learning, and good practices in the following key areas were shared:

  • assessment
  • student evaluation of teaching
  • pedagogical innovation
  • diverse forms of learning
  • evaluating and monitoring student learning experience.

Please click the link below for a summary of the key contents and common issues identified.
Sharing of good practices on Day 2

Way Forward
As an initial step forward, collaboration may start on the following areas which are of common concern to C9 Universities and HKU:

  • Student Evaluation of Teaching
  • Student Learning Experience Survey
  • General Education / Common Core Curriculum
  • Pedagogical Innovations

Media Coverage
Please click the link below for media reports.
Media reports


Common issues addressed on Day 1

The theme for Day 1 was Revisiting the Undergraduate Curriculum .  A number of common issues were addressed in the presentations and discussions.  Below is a brief summary.


Fudan – Prof Lu Fang

1. Graduate Attributes

The nurturing of high quality undergraduates is the core mission of all the participating universities.  Graduates are expected to have vision for the future, responsibility to society and personal ethics.  Graduate attributes cover not just professional/disciplinary knowledge/competence but also personal qualities.  Among the most valued attributes include: critical thinking, innovative and creative thinking, leadership skills, entrepreneurship, positive thinking and renwen suzhi (人文素質), which is especially highly valued by all C9 universities.

There is the view that values can be best cultivated through the hidden curriculum.  Yet, how to effectively cultivate values remains to be further explored.

HIT – Prof Zhou Yu

2. General Education / Common Core Curriculum

General education (or liberal education or Common Core Curriculum) features prominently in the undergraduate curriculum reform of nearly all the participating universities.  General education is introduced primarily to broaden students’ knowledge base, and hence covers both humanities (including arts and sciences) and natural sciences.

While the importance of general education is beyond doubt, a number of issues are worth further deliberation.

  • How is general education defined?
  • What is the aim of general education?
  • How should curriculum of this nature be organized?
  • Is there a place for general education in universities of technology?
  • What is the relationship between general education and specialization education?
  • How to motivate teachers to contribute towards general education, especially among those who as undergraduates were trained only in their major disciplines?

NJU – Prof Tan Zhemin

3. Curriculum Structure

Increasing attention is being paid to the design and implementation of a student-oriented curriculum.  All the participating universities have in one way or another attempted to enhance the flexibility of their curricula and allow more student choices.  In general, they have strengthened foundation education or major disciplinary studies and provided opportunities for diversification through inter-/multi-disciplinary studies and a second major (in addition to taking general education courses) while at the same time working towards systematic integration of the various aspects of the curriculum.

Amidst such moves, a few issues deserve further investigation.

  • What should be compulsory and what should be left to student choice?
  • What would be the best sequencing of curriculum components: liberal/ general education, specialization studies (industrial placement / project design / workshop, capstone experience) and elective studies?
  • How to build in curriculum time and space for personal development?

PKU – Prof Lin Jianhua

4. Organization of Learning Experience

Learning takes place both inside and outside of classrooms and through various formats ranging from formal lectures to practical training to overseas exchanges.

  • How should learning be organized amongst students which is conducive to the development of learning communities? (e.g., undergraduate college)
  • What kind of learning experience will enable students to develop the skills required by industry?  (practical experience)
  • What kind of learning experience will enable students to develop the attributes that will enable them to function as a competent member in the community?

5. Pedagogy

Pedagogical innovations top the agenda of all participating universities.  Experimentation with new pedagogical practices is underway in many universities, mainly to move away from the traditional teacher-centered transmission mode of teaching to a diverse range of pedagogies appropriate for different groups of students and for different disciplines.  A wide range of pedagogical innovations were reported at the symposium, such as freshmen seminars, problem-based learning, small group discussion, case study and experiential learning.  Practical / experiential learning experience is highly stressed by all participating universities.


SJTU – Prof Huang Zhen

6. Teaching Quality and Teacher Development

All participating universities are fully committed to providing the best possible teaching for their undergraduate students.  Teacher development is crucial in the provision of high quality teaching.  Different measures have been introduced, including:

  • highlighting that teaching as the most important mission of teachers
  • making teaching competence a major factor in teacher recruitment
  • establishing the practice for professors to teach undergraduates such as freshmen seminars
  • setting up a formal mechanism to nurture, assess, certify and/or reward teachers.

In order to enhance teaching and teacher development, the fundamental issue concerning the importance accorded to teaching vis-à-vis research, especially in human resource matters, needs to be addressed.

7. Research and undergraduate teaching

All the C9 + 1 Universities are research intensive universities.  They are drawing on or are keen to draw on their staff’s research to inform teaching.  Most of them have introduced research elements in their undergraduate studies as a means of cultivating students’ research interest and skills, nurturing researchers among undergraduate students and preparing aspiring students to progress to research studies.

Tsinghua – Prof Xie Weihe

8. Elite Programme

A few C9 Universities have established elite programmes for their top students.  Such elite classes may conduct teaching largely in English or may involve collaboration with overseas universities in order to prepare undergraduates for postgraduate studies overseas.

9. Internationalization of Staff, Students and Curriculum

Internationalizing staff, students and the curriculum is a major endeavour among quite a number of C9 Universities.  Various means are being adopted, including facilitating students to go on overseas exchange, and collaborating with overseas universities for teaching-learning initiatives.


Sharing of good practices on Day 2


USTC – Prof Liu Bin

The theme for Day 2 was Strategies for Improving Teaching and Learning.  Good practices in the following key areas were shared by the participating universities:

  • assessment
  • student evaluation of teaching
  • pedagogical innovation
  • diverse forms of learning
  • evaluating and monitoring student learning experience.

The key contents and common issues identified are summarized below.

1. Student Evaluation of Teaching (SET)


XJTU – Prof Cheng Guangxu

The evaluation of teaching is taken seriously by all C9+1 Universities.  Teaching is evaluated through various means – student evaluation, class visits, election of favourite teachers and other kinds of monitoring.  Follow-up work is carried out in various forms and to varying extent at different universities.  In order to effectively carry out evaluation of teaching and utilize the data generated, the following issues will need to be ironed out:

  • What is the purpose of SET?  There has been the concern that/ whether:
    • SET hinders teachers’ professional development.
    • Students should not dictate what is good teaching.
    • SET would be a popularity vote?
  • What should be evaluated – student learning or teaching performance?
  • How to ensure objectivity and fairness in the evaluation process?
  • For student evaluation of teaching, are students able to judge teaching, and different students would judge differently?  Would students’ expectation jeopardize good teaching?  How to strengthen students’ and teachers’ mutual understanding of teaching and learning?
  • What do we do about these findings?  How might they serve a formative purpose and not just a summative purpose? And how to minimize pressure on staff, especially young teachers?
  • How to effectively align evaluation of teaching with teaching and learning strategic plan?
    • What are the qualities of a good teacher?
    • What pedagogic practices are being promoted?
    • How do we preserve diversity in teaching styles?

2. Pedagogical Innovation


ZJU – Prof Lai Maode

In order to nurture talent for the 21st century, universities are committed to exploring and adopting appropriate pedagogical innovations.  C9 Universities and HKU have been experimenting various kinds of innovations, including:

  • International collaboration and cross-cultural collaboration
  • Project-based development of generic skills (team work, communication, creative thinking, problem-solving),  inculcation of values (renwen suzhi)
  • On-campus and off-campus (real-world) learning
  • E-learning: use of e-technology for collaboration, sharing of web-based learning amongst institutions.

A number of challenges are noted:

  • Scalability: Some of the projects may be relatively small in scale.
  • Commitment of time by teachers: Experimenting new pedagogies require huge time and human resource commitment.
  • Team work assessment: How to assess teamwork in a fair manner?
  • Knowledge: comprehensive and systematic acquisition of a body of knowledge – what constitutes knowledge? (knowing-how and knowing-what)

3. Teaching Quality & Teachers’ Professional Development


HKU – Prof Amy Tsui

All participating universities are committed to enhancing teaching quality and teachers’ professional development.  Various measures have been implemented in different universities on teaching quality assurance, professional support for teachers, certification of teaching, teaching expertise and pedagogy, particularly in general education teaching.

As identified in the presentations and discussions on Day 1, the issue on the importance accorded to teaching vis-à-vis research needs to be addressed.

4. Student Learning Experience and Student Engagement

Surveys on student learning experience and student engagement can be useful in reviewing and renewing curriculum and also in enhancing teaching-learning quality.  However, issues such as the following would need further rethink:

  • interpretation of findings
  • use of findings for improvement of teaching and learning
  • validity of benchmarking against other universities, especially overseas universities.  It might be more useful to set up benchmarks among universities in China.

Programme rundown and presentation materials

Date/Time Presentation and Discussion Powerpoint Video
Sept 20 (Mon) Day 1: Revisiting the Undergraduate Curriculum
第一天: 本科课程改革方向与措施
Session 1 第一节
Presentation & Q&A
演讲及问答
Shanghai Jiao Tong University 上海交通大学
- The undergraduate program in response to the challenges of the times
- 应对时代挑战的本科人才培养方案
Download Streaming
University of Science and Technology of China 中国科学技术大学
- Undergraduate curriculum reform and measures
- 本科课程改革方向与措施
Download
Tsinghua University 清华大学
- Undergraduate curriculum reform and its measures
- 本科教育课程改革与措施
N/A
Session 2 第二节
Presentation & Q&A
演讲及问答
Xi’an Jiaotong University 西安交通大学
- Enhancing students’ cultural quality and strengthening innovation in practice
- 提高文化素质,加强实践创新
Download Streaming
Zhejiang University 浙江大学
- Curriculum structure for the cultivation of innovative talents
- 论拔尖创新人才的课程培养体系
Download
Harbin Institute of Technology 哈尔滨工业大学
- Enhancing tradition, keeping pace with the times, creating new ideas and cultivating talent
- 弘扬传统,与时并进,创新理念,培育英才
Download
Session 3 第三节
Presentation & Q&A
演讲及问答
Fudan University 复旦大学
- Key elements in undergraduate curriculum design and innovation
- 本科课程设置及改革的关键因素分析
Download Streaming
Nanjing University 南京大学
- Establishing a curriculum structure conducive to the development of students’ individualities
- 建立有利于发展学生个性的课程体系
Download
Peking University 北京大学
- Curriculum construction
- 课程体系建设
Download
The University of Hong Kong 香港大学
- Transforming student learning: 4-year undergraduate curriculum reform
- 学习的变革:4年制本科课程改革
Download
Sept 21 (Tue) Day 2: Strategies for Improving Teaching and Learning

第二天: 改善教学素质之策略与措施

Session 1 第一节
Sharing on 交流
Assessment 评估 • Student evaluation of teaching 学生评教
Tsinghua University 清华大学
- Improve the quality of teaching by developing teachers’ teaching ability
- 以教师教学能力发展,促进教学质量的提高
N/A Streaming
Nanjing University 南京大学
- All-round teaching evaluation
- 全方位的教学评估
Download
Xi’an Jiaotong University 西安交通大学
- Student evaluation of teaching
- 学习考核与评估
Download
Fudan University 复旦大学
- Sharing: On student evaluation of teaching
- 关于学生评教
Download
Session 2 第二节
Sharing on 交流
Pedagogical innovation 教学法的创新 • Diverse forms of learning 多样化的学习形式
Peking University 北京大学
- Peking University education and teaching reform
-北京大学教育教学方法改革
Download Streaming
Shanghai Jiao Tong University 上海交通大学
- “An Introduction to Engineering” course description
- 《工程导论》课程介绍
Download
The University of Hong Kong 香港大学
- Experiential Learning at HKU
-体验学习在港大
Download
Harbin Institute of Technology 哈尔滨工业大学
- Leading independent learning, cultivating innovative thinking and ability of implementation
- 引领学生自主学习,培养创新思维和实践能力
Download
Zhejiang University 浙江大学
- On Brain-based learning
- 论基于脑力开发的教育教学
Download
University of Science and Technology of China 中国科学技术大学
- Devising innovative talent cultivation modes based on students’ diverse needs
- 根据学生的多样化需求创新培养模式
Download
Session 3 第三节
Sharing on 交流
Evaluating and monitoring student learning experience 评估与监察学生学习体验
Tsinghua University 清华大学
- Survey report on undergraduate education at Tsinghua University
- 清华大学本科教育学情调查报告
N/A Streaming
The University of Hong Kong 香港大学
- Utilising evaluation data on the student experience for quality enhancement purposes
- 以学生学习体验的评估数据为指导来提高教育质量
Download

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