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From Quality Assurance to Quality Enhancement

Scaling New Heights
in Teaching and Learning

The Report of a Quality Audit of the University of Hong Kong by the Quality Assurance Council (QAC) of the University Grants Committee (UGC) was released in November 2009.

HKU’s Approach to Teaching and Learning Quality


HKU’s approach to teaching and learning quality is guided by the following principles of quality assurance (QA) and quality enhancement (QE):

  • Aligning teaching and learning objectives with HKU’s Vision, Mission and Educational Aims;
  • Aligning resources with achievement of educational aims;
  • Fostering self-reflection and peer review, and providing room for bottom-up initiatives;
  • Promoting collaboration and exchange of good practice amongst teachers;
  • Focusing on student learning experience supported by evidence;
  • Engaging internal and external benchmarking.

QA processes ensure that standards are met. QE processes build on QA processes to facilitate continuous improvement based on critical self-reflection. They foster a climate of change and innovation, and a sense of ownership.

Quality Assurance Council (QAC) Audit Report Findings

The Report of a Quality Audit of the University of Hong Kong by the Quality Assurance Council (QAC) of the University Grants Committee (UGC) was released in November 2009.

The QAC Audit Panel has confirmed that HKU is providing a high-quality student learning experience underpinned by good and effective support to students, both centrally and in the Departments and Faculties.

The QAC has recognised HKU’s strong and focused commitment to QA and QE, and congratulates HKU on the way we have leveraged on the new undergraduate curriculum and the preparatory audit self-evaluation to review and enhance our academic strategies, educational aims, objectives and operations.

The UGC Chairman has further expressed UGC’s gratification that, as a research-intensive university, HKU is equally and fully focused on enhancing teaching and learning.

Central Leadership and Management

  • Commends HKU for strategically strengthening central leadership in teaching and learning, particularly through the new position of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) with very positive impact on quality enhancement (Commendation 1, para. 2.2).
  • Applauds HKU for engaging staff effectively in new teaching and learning initiatives, including a paradigm shift to outcomes-based education (Affirmation 3, para. 3.2).
  • Endorses HKU’s efforts to achieve optimum balance between central leadership and Faculty initiative and innovation, while assuring consistent application of University policies (Affirmations 1 and 2).
  • Suggests committee restructuring to ensure University oversight and consistent policy implementation (Recommendation 2).

Student Learning Experience and Quality of Programmes

  • Commends HKU for extensive use of external professional and academic input, both local and overseas, to assure programme quality and standards (Commendation 2).
  • Commends HKU for range of well-received co- and extra-curricular learning activities (Commendation 5) and the integration of local and international students (Affirmation 9).
  • Recognises HKU’s long-standing efforts in using IT to enhance learning and in currently developing an overall e-learning strategy (Affirmation 7, para. 8.4).

Student Support and Student Participation

  • Recognises high student satisfaction with HKU learning experience and support services, and positive feedback on student induction, academic advising, library facilities and friendly and internationalized campus (Affirmation 8, para. 8.6-8.7).
  • Recognises very positive student perception of their role and widespread representation on University and Faculty committees, and of their views being taken seriously (para. 12.1-12.3).

Critical Self-reflection and Academic Reviews

  • Congratulates HKU on leveraging on the new 4-year undergraduate curriculum and the preparatory self-review to revisit educational aims and renew curriculum (para. 15.1).

Curriculum Reform and Curriculum Development

  • Applauds HKU’s proactive approach in designing and developing the new 4-year curriculum, facilitating the transition through early introduction of new curriculum features in 2010-12, and adopting common structures for all taught programmes (Affirmation 6).

Staff Development and Recognition of Excellence in Teaching

  • Recognises HKU’s clear commitment to teaching and learning as evident from significant resource investments to support curricular and pedagogical QE (para. 4.11 & 11.12).

Quality of Research Student Education

  • Commends HKU for impressive codification and application of University policies in research postgraduate education and comprehensive student support (Commendation 8, para. 13.4).
  • Applauds HKU for Research Postgraduate Supervisor Awards to recognise outstanding supervision (Commendation 7).

Concluding Remarks

In the Audit Report’s conclusion, the Panel “found that the University of Hong Kong was responding positively to the educational challenges of the 21st century, including changes in the higher education landscape in Hong Kong”, and endorsed “HKU’s commitment to the enhancement of teaching and learning quality, demonstrated from the Council through to the teaching and supporting staff”. The Panel “believes that HKU is well placed to manage the inevitable tensions that will arise as 2012 approaches”.

HKU is most gratified by the confidence and encouragement of the QAC and the UGC.

Where do we go from here?

The University has, in its Institutional Submission and Action Plan, identified areas for further improvement which have been affirmed by the Report’s recommendations.  We have already set in train initiatives which will take our teaching and learning in undergraduate and postgraduate education to new heights (Affirmation 10).  They include the following:

  • Include and more widely publicize student learning experience survey data as additional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of teaching and learning quality to enhance informed academic decision-making at all levels (Recommendation 1).
  • Further to streamlining major University committees overseeing teaching and learning in June 2009, continue to re-align committees at central, Faculty and departmental levels (Recommendation 2).
  • Continue to complete outcomes-based development of templates for aligning curriculum, pedagogy and assessment in course and programme design to ensure achievement of the University’s overarching educational aims (Recommendation 3).
  • Further to Faculty assessment policies derived from central procedures and regulations, develop an overarching institutional assessment policy for Senate endorsement in March 2010, and adopt measures to ensure University-wide dissemination and consistent application (Recommendations 4, 6 and 7).
  • Continue to explore how the scholarship of teaching should be defined and strengthened as the teaching-research nexus is very much our concern as a research-intensive university (Recommendation 5).
  • Continue to strategically embed the dissemination of good practices in ongoing teaching and learning activities through promoting and funding interdisciplinary and cross-Faculty project collaboration, and regularly organize teaching and learning conferences to supplement existing seminars and workshops (Recommendation 8 ).
  • CETL to work with Faculties on minimum requirements to be reached before research students can be assigned teaching duties (Recommendation 9).

The University acknowledges with gratitude our staff and students as well as our external stakeholders, alumni and friends in the community and thanks them for their unfailing support of and invaluable contribution to our initiatives in enhancing teaching and learning.


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