2009 University Distinguished Teaching Award (UDTA)

Professor CHAN Lung Sang
Department of Earth Sciences

Professor Chan Lung Sang, Professor of Earth Sciences in the Science Faculty, has been a university teacher for twenty-five years, fifteen of which he has spent at the University of Hong Kong. He is well-known amongst colleagues and students for his dedication to the University’s core mission of teaching and learning, and his commitment to the whole-person development of his students. In 2004, he was awarded the University Teaching Fellowship in recognition of his teaching excellence — and phrases such as “inspiring, interactive, humorous, encourages us to think critically” are most often used by his students to describe his teaching. His passion for teaching and his true sense of responsibility towards his students were inspired by his PhD supervisor at University of California, Berkeley — a man who treated the young Chan Lung Sang and his fellow students as if they were a part of his family, encouraging and supporting their learning and personal growth. He recalls that one day, on a field trip in Italy, he said to his supervisor, “You have done so much for me — how can I ever repay you?” And his supervisor’s answer was “Just treat your own students in the future the way I have treated you.”

Clearly, Lung has followed this advice. Believing that good teaching starts with a passion for students, and that the role of a teacher extends beyond the classroom, he describes his relationship with the young people he teaches as a learning partnership and a working partnership. As testament to his commitment, his students seek advice from him even many years after they graduate. And, as he remarks with a smile, he is ‘invited to a lot of weddings!’ This year alone he is attending seven.

At Faculty level, Lung has played an important role in the development of the Earth Sciences curriculum in the Faculty of Science since the Department of Earth Sciences was first set up in 1995, the first and still the only department of its kind in Hong Kong. Being able to develop a Department of Earth Sciences in Hong Kong, so that the city could produce its own specialists and no longer have to rely solely on overseas consultants, was a dream that Lung had first had when he was teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Being able to fulfil this dream has given him great excitement and satisfaction. Moreover, Lung has also played a leadership role in redesigning the admission policy for the Science Faculty and restructuring the Science curriculum with an emphasis on the First Year Experience and Experiential Learning, with the goal of fostering a holistic learning experience for the students.

At University level, Lung has made a significant contribution to the four-year Undergraduate Curriculum Reform. He has done this both through his membership in the Steering Committee, which oversees the planning and implementation of the new curriculum, and by taking a leadership role in the Scientific and Technological Literacy Area of Inquiry of the Common Core Curriculum, since its inception in 2007. He has also played an important role in the development of the conceptual framework, the promotion of the goals of the Common Core Curriculum, and the facilitation of inter-Faculty and inter-disciplinary collaboration.

The impact of Lung’s dedicated work extends beyond teaching and learning at the University. As a true believer of experiential learning, he has developed a distinctive approach to teaching, which he has coined ‘problem-based learning in the field’. In the past few years, he has inspired numerous school teachers and students to adopt this approach through seminars and workshops. His impact on teaching in schools is best summarized by this comment from a Geography school teacher: “‘PBL in the field’ not only benefited my students but also broadened my horizon and offered me invaluable experiences and guidance to make a pedagogical shift in this era of education reform.”

His leadership in teaching and learning, both at the Faculty and University level, and the significant impact his pedagogical approach has had on school teachers and students, mark Professor Chan Lung Sang as a teacher of rare exception.

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Mr Richard Anthony GLOFCHESKI
Department of Law

Rick Glofcheski, Associate Professor of Law in the Law Faculty, has taught at the University of Hong Kong for twenty years. Described by his students as one of the most sought-after teachers in the Faculty, he is regarded as a teacher, a mentor, a counsellor, and a friend — someone willing to interact with his students, help them with their problems in learning, and encourage them to perform to the best of their abilities. Even in a class of over a hundred, Rick places importance on knowing every student by name. “This”, he theorizes, “gives the student an identity and a sense of belonging in the classroom, and shows that the teacher cares about the student and his or her learning progress. They feel respected and valued.” In recognition of his teaching excellence, Rick was awarded a University Teaching Fellowship in 2004 and the Outstanding Teaching Award in 2008.

Rick’s subject expertise is evidenced by his research articles, his recent 700-page book, Tort Law in Hong Kong, and the forthcoming 700-page publication Employment Law and Practice in Hong Kong. In his view, a teacher must be well-versed in his subject, but this is not enough; his lessons must also be well prepared. Rick invests himself in designing well thought-out activities that engage his students in deep and active learning. He creates a classroom atmosphere that he describes as ‘participatory democracy and equality among intellectuals’. And it is this practice that enables him to take ‘Law’, often considered a dry subject matter, and make it interesting for all students.

Rick’s leadership in teaching and learning in the Faculty is strongly felt by his colleagues, who describe him as being instrumental in developing a culture of quality teaching in the department. He was a founding member of the department’s Teaching and Learning Quality Committee in 2001, and in his capacity as First Year Course Coordinator (2001-08), he ensured coherence in the first-year LLB curriculum. He mentors tutors in the Faculty and provides them with clear guidance on how to bring about high quality discussion in tutorials. As a reflective practitioner, Rick is tireless in his exploration of ways to improve his teaching. In collaboration with his colleagues, both inside and outside the Faculty, he has conducted two complementary research projects, one on ‘How Law Teachers Teach’ and another on ‘How Law Students Learn’, and has published and presented the findings in Faculty seminars and international conferences.

Rick strongly believes that it is only when students take responsibility for their own learning that they maximize their opportunities for learning. In his view, outcomes-based learning, one of the major initiatives of the new four-year Undergraduate Curriculum Reform of the University, helps to achieve this goal by making students aware from the outset the learning outcomes of a course, the learning activities that will achieve these outcomes, and the way they are assessed. Since the inception of outcomes-based learning at University level, Rick has been deeply involved in investigating how it can be implemented in his own teaching. He has also promoted this approach in his Faculty by hosting seminars to share his experience and research findings.

At University level, Rick has also made important contributions to teaching and learning through his input in the annual curriculum reform retreat, the re-design of the new Student Evaluation of Teaching and Learning, and the Global Issues Area of Inquiry in the Common Core Curriculum.

The following comments and tributes best summarize the very high esteem in which Rick Glofcheski is held by his peers, and the impact he has had on his students:

The external examiner of the LLB curriculum wrote, “Rick Glofcheski is probably the most dedicated teacher I have had the pleasure of interacting with. … The materials, organization, and methodology are excellent, yet Rick is always looking for that extra bit, and more importantly, is willing to experiment with new ideas of his own or those that are occasionally introduced by the external examiners. This is the hallmark of a truly great teacher.”

A tutor in the Faculty wrote, “Rick has elevated teaching into an art form.”

One of his students wrote, “You are the most inspiring, talented, responsible, patient, and encouraging teacher I have ever met in the law school. … I am so grateful to be your student.”

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