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UGC grants Awards for Teaching Excellence

The University Grants Committee (UGC) held its presentation ceremony of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award today (September 5) to honour academics in the UGC-funded institutions for their outstanding teaching performance and achievements, as well as their leadership in and scholarly contribution to teaching and learning within and across institutions.

The presentation ceremony was well attended by the UGC Members, Council Chairmen and Heads of the UGC-funded institutions, their senior management as well as those nominated for the award and some 50 outstanding academics.

The recipients of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award, in alphabetical order, are:

Dr Alice Chong Ming-lin, Associate Professor, Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong

Prof Alan Lau Kin-tak, Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

The award citations are at Annex A.

Speaking at the award presentation ceremony, the Chairman of the UGC, Mr Edward Cheng, congratulated the awardees and nominees of their accomplishments and thanked the support of the UGC-funded institutions and Members of the Selection Panel to the UGC Teaching Award.

Highlighting that the transformation from three to four year undergraduate degree is unprecedented even on an international scale, Mr Cheng said, "We must adapt and equip our faculty members to modify their approach, where necessary, to make sure that these younger cohorts are able to benefit from the great opportunity afforded to them by "3+3+4"."

To encourage UGC-funded institutions to maximise the opportunities provided by the "3+3+4" academic structure, the UGC has introduced new initiatives on teaching and learning as well as internationalisation and engagement with Mainland China. Mr Cheng encouraged the awardees and nominees for the 2013 UGC Teaching Award to participate in those new initiatives.

The two recipients of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award were selected from among 16 outstanding nominees through a rigorous process. All of the nominees were carefully selected by their own institutions. The selection of the final recipients of the UGC Teaching Award was undertaken by a Selection Panel convened by Professor William Kirby. The selection criteria and the composition of the Selection Panel for the 2013 UGC Teaching Award are at Annex B.

Professor Kirby said, "The Selection Panel has been looking for great teachers who can demonstrate the important aspects of teaching, which are reflected in the three selection criteria of the Award: first, the adoption of learner-centred approaches; second, curriculum design that can reflect a true command of the field; and third, demonstration of achievement and leadership in teaching and impact on the development of effective teaching." He added that the two awardees for this year's Award are exceptionally outstanding and have showed the Panel not only what they do to support students' effective learning but also how their approaches to teaching transform students' learning experience into desired learning outcomes.

Chairman of the University Grants Committee (UGC), Mr Edward Cheng, and Members of the Selection Panel of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award took a group photo with the two recipients of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award at the presentation ceremony. (From left) Professor Shekhar Madhukar Kumta, Mr Cheng, Dr Alice Chong Ming-lin, Professor Alan Lau Kin-tak and Professor William Kirby.

Awardee Dr Chong shares his teaching philosophies.

Awardee Professor Lau shares his teaching philosophies.

Annex A

Award Citations

Dr Alice Chong Ming-lin

Dr Chong is an expert in social gerontology. She has combined her deep understanding of the issues facing an ageing society with students' need to develop as citizens who participate in that society. By engaging senior citizens as life mentors and inviting students to experience the challenges faced daily by the elderly, she instills important insights and inter-generational knowledge in her students. Through interactive and often emotional learning experiences, and by encouraging students' self-reflection, she has greatly enhanced the students' ability to discover new knowledge and to consolidate their learning. At the same time, the senior citizens who work with her students experience renewed purpose and the enthusiasm of working with young people. Dr Chong's teaching has had a profound impact on students' understanding of Hong Kong's society.

Dr Chong's "Life Mentor Scheme" has been a success in her home university. To continue with the momentum, Dr Chong plans to use the award grant to carry out a collaborative project called "Life Mentor Scheme for Generation Me" ("Generation Me" referring to those born between 1982 and 1999) that will engage a much larger group of students and involving a broader range of academics from a wide set of disciplines across four UGC-funded institutions.

Prof Alan Lau Kin-tak

Professor Lau is an inspiring teacher, an accomplished researcher and a recognised expert in the field of mechanical and aerospace engineering, materials science and product design. He believes in engaging the real world in his teaching. He has taken the partnership between academics and industry to a new level. Over a carefully planned program that runs over a three-year period, students are introduced to the perspectives of industry and to real-world training in design. Finally they create and promote a real product. The result is a deeply engaged, synergistic relationship between the students and the companies, with the firms benefitting from the solutions posed by these students as the students profiting from their professional development. What Professor Lau calls his "Industry-Engaged Outcome-Based Approach" results in a true collaboration between the academic and industrial sectors.

Professor Lau plans to use the award grant to pass on his experience in university-industry collaboration to junior faculty members of different departments and disciplines to help them in curricula that combines both the academic with the practical.

Annex B

Selection Criteria of the 2013 UGC Teaching Award

Selection Criteria

All nominees for the Award were assessed based on the following three criteria -

(a) Adoption of learner-centred approaches, ability to engage/inspire/impact on students and demonstration of superior classroom acumen, which may include a good understanding of pedagogy, understanding how students learn and adopting suitable teaching and assessment approaches that can achieve better student learning outcomes; being able to interact with students and engage them in learning with enthusiasm; inspiring and supporting students, with respect for their diverse learning needs, to build confidence and capability (including critical thinking, analytical skills, values, etc.); and outstanding classroom (as well as outside-classroom) teaching.

(b) Course/programme/curriculum design that can reflect a command of the field, which may include demonstrating up-to-date knowledge of the field of study in the design of the curriculum and student learning resources (e.g., textbooks, e-learning resources) and adopting complementary research-informed teaching practices; and developing appropriate student learning outcomes and adopting innovative approaches to teaching and assessment which can facilitate students' achievement of the learning outcomes.

(c) Past/present achievement(s) and leadership in teaching and potential scholarly contribution to and impact on the development of effective teaching practice within his/her own institution and/or in other institutions, which may include demonstrating educational research and innovations in the field of study; and demonstrating leadership in the promotion of teaching excellence within the institution and/or in other institutions.

The three criteria carried no specified weighting. The Selection Panel considered each nomination on its own merit with reference to the criteria.

Composition of the Selection Panel

Professor William Kirby (Chairperson)
T M Chang Professor of China Studies and Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration
Harvard University, USA
Member of the University Grants Committee

Dr Judith Eaton
Council for Higher Education Accreditation, USA
Member of the Quality Assurance Council

Mr Clifton Chiu Chi-cheong
Harvester (Holdings) Co. Limited, Hong Kong
Member of the University Grants Committee

Professor Brian Coppola
Arthur F Thurnau Professor of Chemistry
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA
International Expert of the Selection Panel

Professor Shekhar Kumta
Professor of Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Awardee of the 2012 UGC Teaching Award