8 September 2011

CUHK Professor Poon Wai-yin Awarded Inaugural UGC Award for Teaching Excellence



Prof. Poon Wai-yin, Associate Dean (Education) of the Faculty of Science and Professor in the Department of Statistics at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), was conferred the inaugural UGC Award for Teaching Excellence by the University Grants Committee (UGC), in recognition of her outstanding teaching performance and achievements. 

Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, said, 'I heartily congratulate Professor Poon for garnering the first “UGC Award for Teaching Excellence”. The University's primary mission is to instill knowledge into young people of promise, and to nurture and equip them to become responsible citizens. Having joined CUHK for over a quarter of a century, Professor Poon has been striving for innovation and perfection in teaching and research, exemplifying CUHK's pursuit of excellence. The honour that Professor Poon has won reaffirms the University's quality teaching and learning; and her dedication and passion has set an example for many teachers, inspiring them to enhance teaching effectiveness and motivating the local education sector to strive for continuous improvement.' 

Professor Poon feels deeply honoured to get this award: 'I share the view of Sir Colin Lucas, former Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University and member of the Quality Assurance Council, who had this to say after the Quality Audit of the Chinese University in 2008: “the people of Hong Kong should be proud to have a university of such high standing”. I am also immensely proud of being a professor at this university. Its commitment to continually enhancing the quality of education provides a platform for teachers to excel in many dimensions. We design ambitious and challenging curricula to stimulate students, but not at the expense of students of lesser capability.  We embrace the concept of whole-person development, and use our classrooms to cultivate not only expertise but also generic skills and positive attitudes and values, and we feel obliged to extend our influence to the secondary-school sector.' Professor Poon continues, 'I will use the grant to develop educational researches that straddle several broad areas of teaching and learning practices with a view to going beyond the ambit of excellence in teaching to the realm of scholarship of teaching, and contribute to the education sector.'    

Involving students in formulating assessment criteria

Professor Poon adopts a student-centred approach and tailors teaching strategy to the nature of the class and attends to diverse learning needs and styles. She uses various interactive techniques to arouse students' learning interest, and even involves students in formulating assessment criteria to instil a sense of ownership. The course materials she designs show careful attention to students' learning needs to achieve the best learning outcomes. Much loved by her students, Professor Poon sees it as her task to engage and motivate very student, helping them to build confidence and capability. 

Studying further to learn students’ needs

Professor Poon has undertaken a coherent series of teaching-related initiatives, at the level of the courses she teaches and for the Faculty of Science as a whole. She does not merely teach the courses and the material to which she has been assigned, but she tries to examine what is it that students really need – to the extent of taking an MBA in her 'leisure time' in order to better understand the needs of business students for statistics, and also to see how to make the statistics curriculum more attractive and useful to students. 

Professor Poon was the champion and leader in weaving an Outcomes Based Approach into the design of the new four-year curriculum for the entire Faculty of Science. This was done by using published literature, benchmarking with international developments, conducting pilot, obtaining feedback and evidence, and demonstrating positive outcomes. As a member of CUHK's Senate Committee on Teaching and Learning, Professor Poon has made important contributions, rooted in her own front-line teaching experience, to the strategic development of educational quality in the University. 

Developing innovative teaching strategies with statistics expertise

Professor Poon's own profession of statistics stands her in good stead to develop new strategies for teaching and learning, by designing questionnaires and using survey data to elicit robust conclusions. Her publications in the field of education, including many conference presentations, are unusual. Professor Poon has also contributed to higher education at the sector-wide level, having been the CUHK representative in many UGC and inter-institutional activities related to teaching. 

UGC highly praised the achievements of Professor Poon, 'Professor Poon Wai-yin is a fully committed and selfless academic in advancing learning and teaching in higher education.  Her own development as an educator has greatly contributed to her adopting learner-centred approaches in her work, as well as the spreading of such practices.  As a driver for change, her leadership in bringing a cultural shift within her institution has been most impressive.  Prof Poon indeed exemplifies exceptional commitment to and excellence in teaching, and she will contribute significantly to the UGC sector in this area.' 

Profile of Professor Poon Wai-yin

Prof. Poon Wai-yin was appointed in 1987 as Lecturer in the Department of Statistics at CUHK, and promoted to Professor in 2001. Since 2004, she has served as Associate Dean (education) in the Faculty of Science, exerting leadership in teaching at faculty and university level. She is also the Director of the MSc Programme in Data Science and Business Statistics and the Director of the Centre for Promoting Science and Education, nurturing numerous talents in the science discipline over the past 20 years. 

Professor Poon's outstanding teaching has earned her a number of accolades. She is a recipient of the Faculty of Science Exemplary Teaching Award (1999-2000) and (2002-2003), Best Teaching Award from the Asia Pacific Institute of Business, CUHK (2005-06) and (2008-09).

Prof. Poon Wai-yin receives the commemorative plaque from Mrs. Laura Cha, the UGC Chairman.
Prof. Poon Wai-yin receives the commemorative plaque from Mrs. Laura Cha, the UGC Chairman.


Professor Poon delivers the acceptance speech.
Professor Poon delivers the acceptance speech.

Mrs. Cha and members of the award's selection panel take a photo with the award recipients.
Mrs. Cha and members of the award's selection panel take a photo with the award recipients.


CUHK Vice-Chancellor Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung and other University members take a photo with Professor Poon.
CUHK Vice-Chancellor Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung and other University members take a photo with Professor Poon.


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