Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

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Dr. Etienne Wenger-Trayner, a globally recognized thought leader in the field of social learning theory and communities of practice, engaged in a dialogue entitled “Understanding Experiential Learning” with over 50 staff and students on April 25, 2012. Mr John Lin (Department of Architecture), Professor Bennett Yim (School of Business) and Professor Albert Kwan (Department of Civil Engineering) and also joined the session as panelists. The event was part of the Curriculum Reform Seminar Series jointly organized by the Steering Committee on 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum and the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL).

Dr. Wenger-Trayner described the three video cases of experiential learning at HKU as “quite moving” because these initiatives align with the social learning theory very well. He was particularly impressed when students talked about how they were being transformed by their learning experience. In the conversation, Dr. Wenger-Trayner also drew the audience into reflecting the assumptions we make about the learner and the learning process. He challenged the audience to think about the institutional implications of bringing about a paradigm shift in our understanding of doing, knowing and learning.

In the panel discussion, the three panelists gave an affirmative response to experiential learning. They shared their insights on how this mode of teaching affords a new way of looking at knowledge and set students off on an adventure where they gradually understand their core values, form their identity, and see the relevance of their profession to the humankind.

As part of the English-in-the-Disciplines and Academic Literacy Seminar Series, two seminars will be jointly organized by the Steering Committee on 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum, Centre for Applied English Studies (CAES), and Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL). Both seminars will be held from 12:30 to 2:00 pm at lecture theatre T3, G/F Meng Wah Complex.

The first seminar “Understanding English-in-the-Disciplines” will be held on May 6, 2011 and the second one “Tools and Resources of Academic Literacy” will be held on May 20, 2011. For details of these seminars, please click on the poster below.

To register, please access http://www.cetl.hku.hk/caes2011.

Download poster

As part of the Curriculum Reform Seminar Series jointly organized by the Steering Committee on 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum and Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), a seminar entitled “Standards Based Assessment: Nice Idea But What About The Practice?” was given by Professor Margaret Price on April 8, 2011. Professor Price is the Director of the Assessment Standards Knowledge Exchange, Oxford Brookes University Business School.

The seminar looked at issues relating to the implementation of standards based assessment, including the translation of theories into practice for the following major topics:

  • Standards and complex learning
  • Standards and consistency
  • Standards and accreditation of learning

By taking a holistic view to standards based assessment, Professor Price suggested key points to observe in the production of learning outcomes, criteria, level descriptors, and in the process of bringing meaning to these items. It is important to ensure teachers and students actively use standards and discuss their understandings and application of them.

Click here to access the presentation slides used by Professor Margaret Price at the seminar. (HKU portal login required)

Assessment is a dynamic and evolving component of the undergraduate learning experience. Recognizing that conventional assessment practices may not adequately serve the changing needs of students and the changing expectations of university graduates, the Steering Committee on 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum has put forward eight recommendations for consultation with Faculties, students and other stakeholders. Consultation is anticipated to complete in January and the Steering Committee plans to present its recommendations to Senate for consideration at its meeting in March 2010. The recommendations focus on the following areas:

  • University and Faculty Assessment Policies
  • Assessment Approaches
  • Forms of Assessment
  • Capstone Experience and Graduation Requirement
  • GPA Weightings and Honours Classification
  • Grading and GPAs at HKU
  • Provision of Feedback
  • Treatment of Failures
Student Consultation

On January 20, 2010 Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching and Learning) Professor Amy B.M. Tsui and Dean of Student Affairs Dr. Albert Chau met with over 20 students representing Faculty Societies, Students’ Associations of residence halls, the Independent Clubs Association and the Central Executive Committee of the HKU Students’ Union. Students shared their views on the recommendations put forward by the Steering Committee and had an open discussion with Professor Tsui and Dr. Chau on issues ranging from workload concern driven by diverse forms of assessment to provision of feedback from teachers. Input from students, as well as those from Faculties, will be considered by the Steering Committee when it finalizes its recommendations to Senate.

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Assessment Consultation Documents (HKU Portal Authentication is required)

The Steering Committee on 4-year Undergraduate Curriculum held its 4th Curriculum Reform Retreat on June 22-23, 2009 at the Aberdeen Marina Club. The theme of this retreat is “Student Learning Experience and Assessment”. Faculties responded enthusiastically and about 180 participants joined the Retreat, consisting of Deans, Heads of Departments and mostly staff members who are key players in the implementation of teaching and learning matters, teaching award winners, and members of the subcommittees of the Steering Committee. Of the retreat participants, over 30 are office bearers of student organizations and student representatives from Faculties.

The first session was devoted to the interpretation of the preliminary findings of the HKUSLEQ 08-09 whereas the two sessions on the next day were focused on assessment issues, particularly the move to standards-referenced assessment and First Year Experience (FYE). Students collectively made three impressive presentations to express their views on student learning experience, assessment and FYE.

Responses from the participants were very positive and encouraging. Please see below for the Feedback Report, programme rundown and the presentation files.
(Presentations with icons require HKU Portal login to access.)

Day 1: Monday June 22, 2009 (afternoon) (Grand Ballroom, 2/F)
From To Programme
Please click the PDF/VIDEO button to download the presentation files in PDF/WMV format
2:00pm 2:15pm Opening Address
Professor Lap-Chee Tsui (VC & President)
2:15pm 2:40pm Curriculum Reform Progress Report and Student Learning Experience
Session Facilitator: Mr Benny T.Y. Tai (Retreat Organizing Committee Chair)

(I) CR Progress Report (Plenary Session)

  • Overview of progress made on curriculum reform
    • Professor Amy B.M. Tsui (Chair of SC; PVC(T&L) & VP)
  • Progress report on Common Core (CC) Curriculum and overview of CC offerings for 2010
    • Professor Joseph C.W. Chan (Deputy Chair of CCC Subcom; SC member)
    • Mr T. Gwyn Edwards (CC Co-ordinator)
2:40pm 3:45pm (II) Student Learning Experience (Plenary Session)

  • Student learning experience: Preliminary findings of HKUSLEQ 2009
    • Professor Amy B.M. Tsui (Chair of SC; PVC(T&L) & VP) 
    • Dr Beverley J. Webster (CAUT Deputy Executive Director) 
    • Dr Albert W.L. Chau (Dean of Student Affairs; Chair of Student Learning Experience Subcom; SC member) 
  • Student learning experience: Findings of follow-up focus group interviews with students on HKUSLEQ findings
    • Professor David R. Kember (Professor affiliated with CAUT) (5 mins) 
    • Dr Susan M. Bridges (Assistant Professor, Faculty of Dentistry) (10 mins) 
    • Dr Y. Feng (Assistant Professor, School of Chinese Medicine) (5 mins) 
  • Q & A
3:45pm 4:00pm Tea Break (Marina Suite, 2/F)
4:00pm 5:00pm (III) Student Learning Experience (Break-out Session)

  • HKUSLEQ findings and identification of strengths and areas for improvement
5:00pm 6:00pm (IV) Student Learning Experience (Interactive Session)

  • Response from students and Reporting back from staff 
  • Q & A

Day 2: Tuesday June 23, 2009 (Morning) (Grand Ballroom, 2/F)
From To Programme
Please click the PDF/VIDEO button to download the presentation files in PDF/WMV format
8:45am 9:15am Assessment

  • Session Facilitator: Dr Stephen B. Pointing (Retreat Organizing Committee Member)

(I) Assessment: Current Practices at HKU, Issues and Implications – An Overview (Plenary Session)

  • Professor Esmonde F. Corbet (Chair of Assessment Subcom; SC member)  
9:15am 10:30am (II) Panel Discussion (Plenary Session)
Part A – Comments from panelists on key issues
Panelists: Member(s) of SC Subcom, Faculty academic staff and student(s)

  • Outcome-based learning and standards-referenced assessment
    • Professor Michael T. Prosser (CAUT Executive Director; SC member) 
  • Assessment standards and GPA
    • Professor Amy B M Tsui (Chair, SC; PVC (T&L) &VP)
    • Dr Otto Heim (Associate Dean (UG Student Affairs), Faculty of Arts) 
  • Assessment policy
    • Professor Stephen J. Andrews (Associate Dean (Learning & Teaching)-designate, Faculty of Education) 
    • Professor Esmonde F. Corbet (Professor, Faculty of Dentistry) 

Part B – Comments from the floor

10:30am 11:00am Tea Break (Marina Suite, 2/F)
11:00am 11:45am (III) Standardizing Assessment Practices and Assessment Policy (Break-out Session)
11:45am 12:30pm (IV) Interactive Session

  • Response from students and Reporting back from staff  
  • Q & A
12:30pm 1:30pm Lunch (Balcony & Board Room, 1/F)
1:30pm 2:15pm First Year Experience (FYE)
Session Facilitator: Professor L.C. Chan (Retreat Organizing Committee Member)

(I) Transition from School to University Education: Problems and Issues (Plenary Session)

  • Presentation of findings of FYE (2008-2009) and First Year Expectation Surveys (2008-09)
    • Dr Albert W.L. Chau (Dean of Student Affairs; Chair of Student Learning Experience Subcom; SC member) 
    • Professor Michael T. Prosser (CAUT Executive Director; SC member) 
  • Presentation of findings of FYE focus group interviews
    • Professor David R. Kember (Professor affiliated with CAUT) 
    • Dr David M. Pomfret (Associate Dean (Curriculum Development), Faculty of Arts; SC member)
  • Q & A
2:15pm 3:00pm (II) FYE Findings & Proposed and Implemented Courses of Action (Break-out Session cum Tea Break)
3:00pm 4:00pm (III) Interactive Session

  • Experience sharing from staff
    • Dr Albert W.L. Chau (Dean of Student Affairs; Chair of Student Learning Experience Subcom; SC member) 
    • Professor Ian Holliday (Dean of Social Sciences)
    • Dr Tsing Nam-kiu (Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning), Faculty of Science) 
  • Response and Proposal from students 
4:00pm 4:15pm Wrap Up and Look Ahead
Professor Amy B.M. Tsui (Chair of SC; PVC(T&L) & VP)
4:15pm 4:25pm Closing Remarks
Professor Richard Y.C. Wong (DVC & Provost)
4:25pm 4:30pm Filling out Feedback Form

 

Co-organized by
Steering Committee of 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum and Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching (CAUT)

Speaker Professor Harry Lewis
Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University
Date 14 May, 2009 (Thu)
Time 11:30am – 12:30pm
Venue LG-06, Hui Oi Chow Science Building, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract

A central challenge in teaching science to non-science students is deciding what to count as success. Set the bar too low and success is achievable but unsatisfying to the teacher; set it too high and success is frustrating to all concerned; set it at the right level but in the wrong place and students may succeed but wind up both unsatisfied and frustrated. Most teaching in this genre aims at one or more of three goals: aesthetic (e.g. so students understand Newton’s Laws as a human intellectual creation like a great work of literature), or trust-building (e.g. so students understand that medical research can be expected to produce useful results in the future as it has in the past), or pragmatic (e.g. so students can make rational choices about installing solar panels). The speaker will argue for another justification: to enable students to fulfill their civic responsibilities, by understanding the moral and ethical implications of advances in science and engineering. A decision to pursue that goal has consequences: it biases the subjects taught toward applied science, and forces the teacher to grapple with normative and moral issues in which most scientists have no professional training. He will draw on teaching going on at Harvard to illustrate his argument.

About the Speaker

Harry Lewis is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Harvard University. His undergraduate and PhD degrees are from Harvard, and he has taught there since 1974. He is the senior member of the Undergraduate Admissions Committee, and from 1995 to 2003 he served as Dean of Harvard College. In addition to his special field of theoretical computer science, he also teaches an innovative general education course about principles of digital information technology and the societal dilemmas it is creating. His recent writings include two acclaimed books, Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future?, which has been translated into Chinese, and Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.

Co-organized by
Steering Committee of 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum and Centre for the Advancement of University Teaching (CAUT)

Speaker Professor Harry Lewis
Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences
Harvard University
Date 13 May, 2009 (Wed)
Time 5:30pm – 7:00pm
Venue Wang Gungwu Theatre, Graduate House, The University of Hong Kong

Abstract

Wherever we go … whatever we say, write, photograph, or buy … whatever prescriptions we take, or ATM withdrawals we make … we are generating information. That information can be captured, digitized, retrieved, and copied – anywhere on earth, instantly. Sophisticated computers can increasingly uncover meaning in those digital traces – understanding, anticipating, and influencing us as never before. Social networking seduces us into giving up yet more information, and phones with global positioning systems can help anyone we call a "friend" to track our every movement.

Digital technologies enable unprecedented social interconnection and dissemination of learning. But technologies are morally neutral: Google Earth, for example, has been used both to discover new rain forests in Mozambique and to plan terrorist attacks in Mumbai. We review instances in which social institutions have responded inappropriately to perceived technological threats, and ask whether the liberating force of the technology can withstand the fears it arouses.

About the Speaker

Harry Lewis is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences of Harvard University. His undergraduate and PhD degrees are from Harvard, and he has taught there since 1974. He is the senior member of the Undergraduate Admissions Committee, and from 1995 to 2003 he served as Dean of Harvard College. In addition to his special field of theoretical computer science, he also teaches an innovative general education course about principles of digital information technology and the societal dilemmas it is creating. His recent writings include two acclaimed books, Excellence Without a Soul: Does Liberal Education Have a Future?, which has been translated into Chinese, and Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion.

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