CUHK General Education Team Awarded 2016 UGC Teaching Award
The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) has been honoured with the 2016 UGC Teaching Award by the University Grants Committee (UGC), in recognition of the excellent design and implementation of its General Education Foundation (GEF) Programme. The team leaders of the programme, Prof. LEUNG Mei-yee, Director of University General Education, Dr. Julie CHIU, Deputy Programme Director of GEF Programme and Dr. WONG Wing-hung, Associate Director of University General Education, are highly commended for their vision and leadership. The UGC has accepted team nominations for the teaching award starting this year to recognize the increasing importance of team teaching.
General Education has been an indispensable part of CUHK’s undergraduate experience since the founding of the University. With the 2012 new curriculum, General Education at CUHK was brought to a new height by the introduction of the GEF Programme, a ‘common-core’ programme added to the existing design of general education, and also a unique programme among local institutions. It consists of two courses, In Dialogue with Humanity and In Dialogue with Nature, through which students engage in a weekly ‘dialogue’ at home with a classic from the humanities or the sciences, to be followed with a ‘dialogue’ in class with fellow classmates and the teacher, as they jointly explore answers to the two central questions: What is an ideal society and a good life? What are the achievements and limitations of science?
Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK, said, ‘My sincere congratulations to the General Education team led by Prof. Leung Mei-yee, Dr. Julie Chiu and Dr. Wong Wing-hung on their outstanding accomplishments. The GEF programme has demonstrated new concepts of general education provision in Hong Kong. Its intended learning outcomes are in close alignment with the University’s vision of helping students to develop broad-based knowledge, skills, values, and global perspectives with independent and critical thinking. We are so proud of the success of the GEF programme that has made an eloquent example of good practices and is widely recognized.’
Professor Leung, Dr. Chiu and Dr. Wong are deeply honoured to receive the award. Professor Leung said, ‘The award is recognition of the importance of a broad-based education for the personal development of young people. Nowadays, while the pursuit of professional qualifications seems the most prominent part of university education, CUHK is determined to foster in our students a yearning for a bigger, “wider” world. I would like to extend my appreciation to all members of the GE team, and to the students who have participated in the programme with such enthusiasm. Their inquisitive spirit never ceases to inspire us to go the extra mile.’
Since the launch of GEF in 2012, over 24,000 students have enrolled in the programme. Despite all the challenges during its development, the programme has received very positive responses from the students, and never ceased seeking ways to improve itself. An evidence-based and reflective approach has been adopted to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of student attainment of the intended learning outcomes. Small-class seminars is the major platform of learning. With 3,800 freshmen per year, GEF would need to offer 152 sections for each of the two courses every year.
To enhance students’ enjoyment and understanding of the classics taught in GEF, innovative learning aids and enrichment activities for students have been developed, ranging from specially-designed mobile apps, Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), and reading and writing workshops, to documentary appreciation and movie nights. Apart from the two mobile apps which serve as optional online reading companions for students, the programme also makes extensive use of eLearning platforms and micro-modules to facilitate flipped classrooms.
Team Building and Professional Development
The course contents and textbooks are designed and produced by the General Education team. The full-time teaching team has been expanded from an initial few to 27. To build up the team, support and development opportunity are provided. Teacher retreats, internal conferences, invited talks by external experts and participation in overseas conferences permit the team to reflect on their teaching experience and exchange new ideas.
The achievement of the GEF Programme has also gained recognition beyond the University. Prof. Leung, Dr. Chiu and Dr. Wong, as experts in GE, are frequently invited by other institutions—on the Mainland and also in Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong—to give talks and to serve as advisors or programme reviewers. Last year, the GEF programme was granted the Exemplary Program Award for Improving General Education by the Association for General and Liberal Studies (AGLS), in recognition of its commitment to continuously improving teaching and learning approaches in general education based on students’ needs and learning outcomes.
The Annual Award for Teaching Excellence
The annual UGC Teaching Award was introduced in 2011 to honour those who excel in teaching in the UGC sector and their leadership in and scholarly contribution to teaching and learning within and across institutions. Past awardees from CUHK include Prof. Poon Wai-yin, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor in the Department of Statistics, and Prof. Shekhar Madhukar Kumta, Assistant Dean (Education), Faculty of Medicine, and Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology.