Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

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Experiential Learning

7. Teaching and Learning Support and Student Resources

7.1 Approach

7.1.1 The University has a strong infrastructure to support T&L and student life. Institutional goals, strategies and monitoring mechanisms direct the development and delivery of these support services. In addition, individual Faculties implement other initiatives to support T&L in respect of their academic programmes.

7.2 Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning

7.2.1 The mission of CETL is to work across the University to enhance the quality of teaching and student learning experience. CETL provides support in operationalising the institutional T&L strategies and meets the needs of a diverse range of academics at different stages of their career. It engages with Faculties in various forms of activities as outlined below:

  • programmes for the preparation and development of staff new to teaching, viz. the mandatory induction programme for new teaching staff (those new to higher education and those new to the University) and the mandatory training course for postgraduate teaching assistants across Faculties;
  • sharing good practices through engagement across the University, e.g. professional development seminars, workshops and conferences, and seminars for showcasing good teaching practices arising from the Teaching Exchange Fellowship Scheme, TEAS, the UGC Teaching Award and TDG projects;
  • in collaboration with TELI and EPSU, offering seminars and workshops on e-learning;
  • assisting Faculties with the interpretation of data collected through SLEQ-UG and SLEQ-TPG so as to inform their action plans;  
  • assisting Faculties in developing PLOs, CLOs, grade descriptors, PLOAP and PLOAR in implementing OBASL;
  • collaborating across Faculties and at University level in the incubation of TDG projects;
  • research which underpins an evidence-based approach to teaching, learning and curriculum design and strengthens the teaching-research nexus;
  • coordinating the establishment of communities of practice as an effective platform to engage staff in discussing and sharing good T&L practices across the University; and
  • other modes of engagement with, and support for, Faculties in response to Faculty needs.

7.3 Common Core Curriculum

7.3.1 A Common Core Curriculum Committee is established under AB to oversee matters pertaining to the development, delivery and QA and QE of the CC Curriculum. Policies and guidelines on offering CC courses, PLOs and assessment arrangements (inclusive of sample grade descriptors and examination procedures) applicable to the CC Curriculum are at Appendix 7.1. A CC Office, headed by the Director of Common Core Curriculum, is set up to deal with coordination and implementation matters.

7.3.2 The CC Curriculum, which forms part of the Ug graduation requirements, is an essential aspect of the transition from secondary school to university and provides an ongoing experience of active, project-oriented and cross-disciplinary learning. The overall conceptual framework and goals of the CC Curriculum as approved by the Senate are set out at Appendix 7.2.

7.4 Experiential learning

7.4.1 Experiential learning, which enables students to integrate theory and practice, is an integral part of the Ug curriculum. The University focuses on the kind of learning that requires students to tackle real-life issues and problems by drawing on theoretical knowledge that they have learnt in the formal curriculum. Experiential learning is relevant to all curricula/programmes. Through the learning process, students put theoretical knowledge to test, and gain a deeper understanding of theories and construct knowledge, through which students develop their core values and generic skills. In some Faculties, experiential learning is a graduation requirement.

7.4.2To facilitate the implementation of experiential learning, a support centre, co-hosted by CEDARS and CETL, was established in March 2012 and named after the donor Dr. Gallant Ho, as Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre. The main function of GHELC is to acquire and administer funding to support experiential learning projects such as Experiential Learning Fund (see paragraph 7.4.3). The Centre also helps to identify interdisciplinary project opportunities, facilitate collaborations among Faculties in developing joint learning projects, and undertake project coordination and monitoring of progress. Practicum or internship in professional programmes and service learning are not supported by GHELC. This is because professional programmes have a long-standing tradition of incorporating internship as an essential part of the formal curriculum and have well developed supporting infrastructure and assessment mechanism in place, and service learning may or may not be related to students’ formal curriculum and is already well-supported by CEDARS (see Section 7.10).

7.4.3 Experiential Learning Fund supports Faculties in introducing, expanding or enhancing experiential learning in their Ug curriculum. It also funds students directly for experiential learning projects. Application guidelines are available from the GHELC website (http://ghelc.hku.hk/experiential-learning-fund/). Grant holders are required to disseminate and present project deliverables, outcomes and effective practices to the University community and other related communities.

7.4.4 The operation of GHELC is overseen by the Management Committee of GHELC. The Management Committee also oversees the support required for the implementation and evaluation of experiential learning across the University. A copy of its Terms of Reference is at Appendix 7.3.

7.5 E-learning

7.5.1 The University’s E-learning Strategy focuses on the enhancement of student learning experiences, adopts a learner-centred approach, and is supported by evidence and science of learning. It emphasises the strengthening of the existing capacity to provide a rich learning environment for students through the innovative and effective use of technologies. It sets out the goals of e-learning and the corresponding measures to achieve these goals. An institutional review is to be conducted at three-year intervals to ensure that HKU will remain agile and competitive (Appendix 7.4).

7.5.2 TELI and EPSU are the major providers of e-learning support. They work in conjunction to provide pedagogical and technical support to Faculties on e-learning operations (e.g. designing flipped classroom sessions, developing online learning courses and enhancing the learning management system). They have emerged as an “innovation powerhouse” to enable quick experimentations of new pedagogies and new modalities of contents delivery. The establishment of the Teaching Innovation Production Studio addresses the need for a more technology- and media-rich learning environment. They also collaborate with the E-learning Team of ITS and CETL to provide professional development opportunities to Faculties in the enhancement and innovation of T&L through technology. Individual Faculties have also implemented different forms of e-learning initiatives, some cases of which are facilitated by TELI and EPSU and generated from TDG projects.

7.5.3 The Senate’s E-learning Committee oversees the implementation of the University’s E-learning Strategy, ensures that quality management of e-learning is comprehensively conducted, and promotes excellence in the use of technology for T&L. The Learning Environments Committee is tasked with advising on and monitoring the development and upgrade of e-learning facilities in the appropriate learning environments with a view to maximising the synergy between the physical learning environment and the technology-enriched intellectual space. The Terms of Reference of these two committees are at Appendix 7.5.

7.5.4 The E-learning Committee devises and progresses an institutional approach to e-learning, sets appropriate benchmarks and sensible success indicators as necessary, monitors the relationships with institutional partners, and ensures the availability and adequacy of e-learning resources. Its subsidiary sub-committees are organised according to priority areas of focus. Currently these are:

  • Online learning: massive open online courses (MOOCs), small private online courses (SPOCs) and blended online on-campus courses (BOOCs) (including flipped classrooms);
  • Learning Management System: effective usage and evidence-based enhancement; and
  • User support, engagement and development (including the setting up of communities of practice).

The objectives of these sub-committees are at Appendix 7.6.

7.6 Communication-intensive Courses

7.6.1 The Communication-intensive Courses (CiC) initiative aims to bolster undergraduate students’ communication-related knowledge, skills and attributes. These courses are developed and designed to provide students with the core communicative competences needed for creative, economic and social success on campus and in the workplace. They focus on four areas of communication: (i) oral literacy, (ii) written literacy, (iii) visual literacy, and (iv) digital literacy. CiC applies to courses in any language.

7.6.2 CI-badged courses are courses that recognise that effective communication is complex and involves many different forms, genres and components. They have a syllabus that embeds communications teaching alongside the course content. The course learning outcomes of these courses must relate specifically to at least two of four communication literacies (oral, written, visual and digital) and at least 40% of the course grade must be assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks relating specifically to communication-related knowledge, skills and attributes, as specified in the course learning outcomes (https://cics.hku.hk/).

7.6.3 The certification procedures for CiC can be viewed at https://cics.hku.hk/c-i-course-certification/ (HKU portal log-in is required). The CiC Certification Form (Appendix 7.7) should be submitted by the course coordinator to the CiC Committee for endorsement.

7.7 Academic advising

7.7.1 The University has a university-wide academic advising system to help undergraduate students understand the aims of University education, the culture and ethos of learning, the available educational options and the paths that could be taken so that they can draw their own roadmaps to achieve their goals and monitor their own progress (Appendices 7.8 & 7.9).

7.7.2 The academic advising system emphasises the construction of learning relationships especially for students in their first year of study and developmental processes as their studies progress. It is based on a comprehensive network involving four key components which interact with each other: Faculty, central, residential and online. All first-year students have an assigned Faculty Academic Adviser whom they are encouraged to meet once every semester in the first year of study and whenever they need advice on their studies. In addition, all students have access to central and specialised academic advisers upon their request. For students living in residential halls, residential student advisers are available. Online academic resources are also available to both teachers and students.

7.7.3 The AAFYEC, a sub-committee of TLQC, oversees the implementation and monitoring of academic advising across the University. AAO provides administrative support to the AAFYEC and is responsible for the coordination and implementation matters and arranging workshops and presentations on academic advising for students and staff. Moreover, all Faculties, residential halls and colleges and CEDARS are actively engaged in implementation of the academic advising system.

7.7.4 Statistical data are collected through SLEQ-UG and SIS Advising Tools developed by AAO to measure the usage of academic advising among students. The annual SLEQ-UG survey contains a section on academic advising to gauge the use and helpfulness of the academic advising system to students.

7.8 First Year Experience and academic induction

7.8.1 The Senate approved in March 2012 the six goals on FYE and academic induction (Appendix 7.10).

7.8.2 The University’s FYE and academic induction activities are overseen by the AAFYEC. The Committee takes charge of high-level coordination of FYE activities, reviewing SLEQ-UG findings on FYE, monitoring follow-up action to address student concerns and reporting annually to TLQC.

7.8.3 A number of FYE initiatives have been implemented, in respect of the promulgation and organisation of induction activities, student learning support, class scheduling and residential hall and college activities.

7.8.4 In achieving the FYE goals, all Faculties, CEDARS, student organisations and community partners contribute to the design and implementation of induction and orientation activities. CEDARS hosts the one-stop information hub for these activities organised by university offices and student organisations.

7.9 HKU Horizons Office

7.9.1 The HKU Horizons Office provides the supporting infrastructure for the HKU Horizons initiative, including implementation and dissemination of the institutional strategy and policy for the HKU Horizons programme and ensuring adequate provision of relevant support and development for staff and students.

7.10 Centre of Development and Resources for Students

7.10.1 Under the leadership of the Dean of Student Affairs, CEDARS creates opportunities, garners resources and collaborates with partners:

  • to achieve the HKU educational aims for undergraduates and postgraduates;
  • to advance wellness, citizenship in local and global communities, social commitment and whole person development among all students;
  • to bring out the full strengths of students and maximise their exposure and experience of students in the realms of intellectual, personal, moral and social development;
  • to effectuate mutual engagement between staff and students;
  • to develop a collegial, inspiring and gratifying working environment for staff that promotes aspiration, advancement and overall wellness; and
  • to become a leader in student support and co-curricular programme in Asia.

7.10.2The main areas of work of CEDARS include:

  • provision of outside classroom non-credit bearing co-curricular learning and general education opportunities to foster students’ whole person development;
  • internationalisation and integration of different cultural backgrounds;
  • professional counselling services and mental health education;
  • placement and graduate employment support;
  • building a supportive, inclusive and diversified campus (covering catering, housing (see Section 7.11) and amenities centres);
  • financial support and educational funding for individual students and student projects;
  • advisement and support for student societies, individual students and student projects; and
  • support services for students with disabilities or special educational needs (see Section 7.14).

7.10.3 CEDARS adopts a systematic approach to assure the quality of their programmes and activities. Evidence and feedback are collected through diverse methodologies and from multiple stakeholders to inform goals, designs and implementation of its programmes and services. For benchmarking purpose, the instruments for collecting feedback are standardised.

7.10.4 CEDARS comprises three Sections (viz. Campus Life, Careers and Placement, and Counselling and Person Enrichment) and two programme teams (viz. Student Development and General Education).

7.10.5 The Committee on Student Affairs discharges and reports to the Senate on matters of student welfare and facilities. The various functions of CEDARS are monitored by the Committee on Student Affairs and its sub-committees:

  • Careers and Placement Committee;
  • Committee on Campus Life;
  • Committee on Catering;
  • Committee on Halls;
  • Committee on Personal Development and Counselling; and
  • Governance Committee of the Residential Colleges on Lung Wah Street.

These sub-committees as well as the Dean of Student Affairs advise, and submit annual reports to, the Committee on Student Affairs. The Terms of Reference of the Committee on Student Affairs and its sub-committees are at Appendix 7.11.

7.11 Residential education

7.11.1 Residential education plays a significant role in complementing the formal curriculum in the achievement of the University educational aims (Appendix 7.12). The Committee on Halls advises the Committee on Student Affairs on all matters pertaining to student residence and student welfare in residential halls and non-residential halls, as well as the development and planning of halls of residence. The Governance Committee of the Residential Colleges on Lung Wah Street oversees all matters related to residential colleges and reports to the Committee on Student Affairs.

7.12 Centre for Sports and Exercise

7.12.1 The Centre for Sports and Exercise designs and implements the UNI-SPORTS and UNI-ADVENTURE programmes to encourage members of the HKU family to stay fit and healthy. The programmes aim to provide participants with not only an appreciation of the link between regular physical activity and well-being but also the opportunities to develop skills needed for life-long sports and activity involvement.

7.12.2 There are 6 main categories of Uni-Sports: a) aquatics; b) dance and physical fitness; c) golf; d) marital arts and archery; e) rackets and ball games; and f) yoga and pilates. The programmes are available to beginners, intermediate-level participants and experienced performers.

7.12.3 Uni-Adventure aims to provide opportunities for those who wish to explore new and dynamic educational experiences. Through a series of challenging outdoor activities and initiative exercises, participants will experience unique learning opportunities to enhance leadership and communication skills and strengthen self-esteem and personal development.

7.13 University Health Service

7.13.1 The University Health Service provides for the health needs of students and staff with the aim of promoting and maintaining their physical and psychological well-being through the provision of accessible and cost-effective primary health care and health education.

7.14 Students with special educational needs

7.14.1 CEDARS provides a one-stop service for students with special educational needs, including those with physical and sensory disabilities, learning and developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, chronic medical illnesses or multiple disabilities. It works with Faculties and residential halls and colleges to provide a full range of services including support on academic studies, information provision, counselling, university housing, funding to procure learning aids and equipment, internship and employment preparation (http://www.cedars.hku.hk/cope/sen).

7.14.2 The professional special educational needs support team in CEDARS provides individual assessment to students with special educational needs and communicates the recommendations on special academic arrangements to the faculties, course teachers and Examinations Office in an individualized Letter of Reasonable Accommodations/Adjustments. The Faculty Contact Person on Special Education Needs Support in each Faculty disseminates the information to the teachers and implements the logistic arrangements.

7.14.3 A set of guidelines on preparing teaching materials for persons with visual impairment are available on the Equal Opportunity Unit website to facilitate arrangements in individual courses (http://www.eounit.hku.hk/en/guidelines/guidelines-on-preparing-teaching-materials-for-persons-with-visual-impairment).

7.15 Classrooms and IT services

7.15.1The Learning Environment Services Team of ITS manages the physical learning environment, including centrally managed classrooms and lecture theatres, and the Learning Commons. Classrooms and lecture theatres are designed and built in different sizes and configurations to suit various teaching and pedagogical needs. The Learning Commons are equipped with modern learning facilities that encourage and facilitate individual and group study.

7.15.2ITS also manages a wide range of technologies, facilities and services in support of T&L in the University, including an advanced IT infrastructure with IT facilities and associated support services, SIS (see Section 7.19), and the Virtual Learning Environment (i.e. the digital space in support of e-learning) (see Section 7.5). It offers training courses, workshops and end-user support services to enable staff and students to make the best use of these technologies, facilities and services.

7.15.3The Learning Environment Services Team conducts online Teaching and Learning Space Experience Surveys to gather information from teaching staff and students respectively about their experiences and perceptions of the classroom environments, and in addition for students, spaces for private study or collaborative work. The survey results are used to inform strategy for future development of T&L spaces over a planning period of 2 to 3 years to ensure that the space provided for T&L is fit for purpose and of good quality in order to enhance student learning experiences. A set of Learning Space Design Guidelines and Standards prescribing the requirements of the University in future learning space projects and equipment upgrades is at Appendix 7.13.

7.15.4The Information Technology Policy Committee (ITPC) advises and reports to the Council on all matters relating to the development and support of information technology (IT) on the University campuses. It provides high-level governance in relation to institutional resource allocations and setting of priorities for the capital and operational development and support of IT. ITPC also provides oversight on the formulation and implementation of the institutional IT strategy and University-wide IT related policies. In addition, the ITS has set up an IT Services Consultative Advisory Meeting (ITSCAM) to solicit user inputs for Information Technology Services related to the needs of the University community with respect to information technology development and support for teaching, learning and research as well as the provision and implementation of information technology facilities and services of the University. ITSCAM coordinates with faculties, departments and student associations for effective, legitimate and safe use of the University-wide information infrastructure systems and facilities, and promotes awareness on the compliance requirements related to relevant laws and policies.

7.15.5The Terms of Reference of the ITPC and ITSCAM are at Appendix 7.14.

7.16 Libraries

7.16.1 The very nature of the Libraries lends itself to the three pillars of the University’s vision for T&L, research, and knowledge exchange through its outstanding resources, people-centred services as well as its innovative and collaborative approaches. The Libraries consists of the Main Library and six branch libraries, namely Dental Library, Fung Ping Shan Library, Lui Che Woo Law Library, Music Library, Tin Ka Ping Education Library, and Yu Chun Keung Medical Library. Special Collections houses a unique collection of Hong Kong materials, rare books, pamphlets, and microforms. The University Libraries has also gained depository status for a number of core international collections, and two of them, namely the European Documentation Centre and the World Trade Organization, are housed in Special Collections. Besides offering a congenial environment for study and research, the Libraries also provides a wide range of information resources including a comprehensive collection of books, journals, audio-visual materials and a rapidly expanding collection of article databases, e-books, e-journals, e-news. Many of these electronic resources are available on the web by authenticated access.

7.16.2 The Libraries conducts user satisfaction surveys on a biennial basis to collect users’ feedback to identify performance gaps and studies user preferences for print and electronic materials, and the Library environment. The Libraries also learns about users through user experience research, in line with global academic library best practices. Future plans for improvement and development are drawn up based on the survey and research results.

7.16.3 The Library Committee, a committee of the Senate, advises the Senate on the management of the Libraries and the information services provided through them. It also advises the Libraries on the annual recurrent budget submission.

7.16.4 A copy of the Terms of Reference of the Library Committee is at Appendix 7.15.

7.17 Centre for Applied English Studies

7.17.1 Apart from teaching in the Ug, TPg and RPg curricula (see Section 1.6 on language provision and support), CAES provides additional English language support for all UGC-funded students at the University through the Communication Support Services (CSS). Resources and services are provided by three communication support service units, the Writing Centre, the Speaking Studio, and the Digital Literacy Lab. A General Language Advising programme is also offered to support students’ language learning efforts by focusing on students with longer-term language learning needs. These services are located in the Chi Wah Learning Commons (Zone R, 2nd Floor) Student Advisory Services area (known as ‘CAES in the Advisory Zone’). Students can interact face-to-face with CAES teachers, CAES Communication Advisors, and Ug and postgraduate student peer consultants in either individual sessions, group discussions and workshops. Students can also find online resources on the CSS website. Language/examination preparation books are situated in Zone R of the Chi Wah Learning Commons. UGC-funded students on taught CAES Ug and postgraduate courses are directed to the CSS for supplementary support or as part of their out-of-class learning requirement. The services offered are monitored through usage data, questionnaires, and focus groups.

7.18 School of Chinese

7.18.1 Apart from the Chinese Language Enhancement Programme in the School of Chinese (see Section 1.6), which offers compulsory practical Chinese language courses to Ug students that aim primarily at enriching students’ knowledge of Chinese and sharpening their communication and writing skills, the Chinese Language Centre offers Putonghua and Cantonese courses as well as cultural courses to international and exchange students; and voluntary Putonghua courses to local Ug students. It also offers a two-year Certificate in Chinese Language to candidates whose mother tongue is not Chinese.

7.19 Student Information System

7.19.1 SIS is an integrated suite of systems developed to support student and administration services. At its centre is a large-scale student records and administration system, with which a number of satellite systems interface and exchange data. It is equipped with a number of core functions and modules covering admission, student registration, student records, student fees calculation, course information and learning outcomes, class scheduling, course selection and enrollment (including declaration of major/minor programme(s)), academic advising, grading, transcripts, Academic Attainment Profiles, degree audit, student and Faculty self-services, and interfacing with other University systems (e.g. Moodle and SETL).

7.19.2 The user guides and reference materials facilitating staff and students in using the System are available on the HKU Portal.

7.19.3 The relevant teaching unit should input course information for new courses and update course information for existing courses in the SIS Course Info Template after approval has been obtained (see Chapter 3) to ensure that the course information is up to date.

7.19.4 Approved changes to curriculum or programme requirements necessitate updating of the relevant SIS Program Guide, which shows the course lists of the programme(s) declared by individual students.

7.19.5 The work of SIS is overseen by the SIS Steering Committee.

7.20 Discrimination and harassment

7.20.1 The University is committed to creating, promoting and maintaining an environment for staff and students which provides equality of opportunity, and which is free of any discrimination and harassment. There are in place an established Policy on Equal Opportunity (http://www.eounit.hku.hk/en/about-us/policy-statement), Guidelines to facilitate free interaction and exchange within and among members of the University (http://www.eounit.hku.hk/en/guidelines/general-guidelines) and Procedures for Handling Discrimination and Harassment Complaints (http://www.eounit.hku.hk/en/complaints-enquiries/procedures).

7.20.2 The Equal Opportunity Committee, established by the Council and the Senate, has responsibility for advising the University, its staff and students on policies, good practices and positive steps for enhancing integration and diversity, and reviewing University policy in providing equal opportunity for all its members and the public, in accordance with the general direction given by the Council (Appendix 7.16). The Equal Opportunity Unit, led by the Equal Opportunity Officer, provides support to the Equal Opportunity Committee, promulgates equal opportunity at the University, handles discrimination and harassment complaints and enquiries, and discharges associated duties (http://www.eounit.hku.hk/en/about-us/vision-and-mission).

7.20.3 In accordance with the current Procedures for Handling Discrimination and Harassment Complaints (http://www.eounit.hku.hk/en/complaints-enquiries/procedures), the Discrimination Complaints Committee shall be set up, as deemed appropriate by the President and Vice-Chancellor upon recommendation of a preliminary inquiry report on a complaint, to undertake a full-scale investigation and to make findings upon the complaint. The Discrimination Complaints Committee shall consist of a Chair who shall be a lay member of the Council, a staff member, one student member, one member from a list of Equal Opportunity Advisers (staff members nominated by Heads of Departments) and where the complainant or the respondent is a postgraduate student, a nominee from the Postgraduate Student Association.

7.20.4 With a view to enhancing students’ awareness of and sensitivity to generate more thoughtful and respectful use of language in academic work, a guideline on the use of inclusive language in academic work has been developed for reference by undergraduate and taught postgraduate students (https://tl.hku.hk/2018/07/use-of-inclusive-language-in-academic-work-a-guideline-for-undergraduate-and-taught-postgraduate-students/).

7.21 Student complaints and grievances

7.21.1 The University has in place a set of established Procedures for the Resolution of the Grievances of Students (http://handbook.hku.hk/ug/full-time-2018-19/appendices/k-procedures-for-the-resolution-of-the-grievances-of-students). (These procedures, however, do not apply to examination results determined by BoE. There is no provision for appeal against examination results (see Section 5.3).) A student holding a grievance against a staff member can approach the Dean of Student Affairs for advice and support, and seek resolution through informal mediation by the home Faculty or Department or the Equal Opportunity Unit, as appropriate (see Section 7.20). There is also provision in the procedures for a complaint to be investigated by a Committee of Enquiry set up by the grievances panel comprising members internal and external to the University.

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