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Common Core Forum for Teachers on May 10, 2010

In September 2010 a new 3-year undergraduate curriculum will be implemented to smooth out the transition to the full launch of the new 4-year curriculum in 2012. At the centrepiece of the new undergraduate curriculum is the Common Core Curriculum. In preparation for the partial launch of the Common Core Curriculum this coming September, about 70 members of the teaching staff, who are either teachers of Common Core courses, teachers of pilot Common Core courses or members of the Common Core Curriculum Committee, gathered together for a one-day forum on May 10, 2010 to share their experiences, concerns and plans.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Amy B.M. Tsui gave an opening speech, taking participants on a journey revisiting HKU’s conceptualization of the Common Core Curriculum and highlighting the world-wide trend in higher education where there is growing recognition of Arts and Humanities forming a crucial part of the undergraduate curriculum.

A major focus of the forum was the examination of what had been learnt from the pilot Common Core courses, with Mr Gwyn Edwards, Director of Common Core Curriculum, giving a broad overview. It has emerged from interviews with staff and sharing sessions that pedagogy for large classes, assessment, and teaching students with diverse background are the key issues faced by teachers. From lesson observations and interviews with students, it was learnt that students generally believe they have developed an enhanced understanding of the complexity of and the connections between issues in life.

A panel discussion moderated by Professor Joseph Chan, Deputy Chair of the Common Core Curriculum Committee, took up issues at greater depth. While Dr Harold Corke and Dr Jess King, who are both Common Core teachers, stressed the importance of maintaining non-science students’ confidence when making references to scientific concepts and formulae, Ms Kathy Griffin, who had sit in some sessions of the pilot courses and interviewed students in her capacity as commissioned professional writer for university publicity material, shared that students indeed feel very positive about the pilot courses. Students in particular treasure the inclusiveness of the classes, the new perspectives being brought to them, and even the different modes of assessment such as keeping journals and doing group presentations.

The other major focus concerned exemplar practices on which three presentations were given. Dr Sam Winter spoke on motivating students in large classes, Professor L.S. Chan shared examples of facilitating and assessing tutorials, and Dr Patrick Ng explained how interactive learning through various classroom activities such as participatory games was used in classes.

Besides learning from presenters, participants had the opportunity to share views at the two break-out sessions. Discussions in the morning break-out session focused on specific issues of concern including assessment, tutorials, pedagogy for large classes and teaching students from different Faculties while those in the afternoon on issues pertaining to individual areas of inquiry. The forum ended with a plenary session in which some of the practical concerns such as the running of tutorials were addressed.

Click here for the Programme Rundown

PowerPoint Presentations
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Motivating students in large classes by Dr Sam Winter
Facilitating and assessing tutorials by Prof L.S. Chan
Interactive learning in large classes by Dr Patrick Ng
What We have Learned from the Six Pilot Common Core Courses by Mr Gwyn Edwards

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