SS receives Substantial Grants for studies on Hong Kong and Macao

The research by Professor LO Tit-wing will provide reference to decision-making for the Macao government in drawing up a 10-year rehabilitation programme plan.

A number of professors at the Department of Applied Social Sciences (SS), the first department established within CLASS at CityU, have obtained substantial grants from various sources for conducting researches on Hong Kong and Macao. Research topics include teaching of English and positive education in primary schools, as well as rehabilitation programmes to support the handicapped people.

Professor LO Tit-wing, Head of the Depar tment , receives HK$3.8 million from the Macao SAR government for a two-year study on rehabilitation. Begun in April 2014, the research will provide reference to decisionmaking for the Macao government in mapping out a 10-year rehabilitation programme plan.

To give guidance for the Macao SAR government in formulating policies to aid the handicapped and in planning future work, as well as to assist the Social Welfare Bureau in running relevant rehabilitation programmes, Professor Lo and his research team conducted a sampling survey to study the living conditions and needs of the handicapped in Macao.

Planning for the 10-year rehabilitation programme is one of the policy foci of the Macao SAR government in 2014. The Secretariat for Social Affairs and Culture of Macao and its subordinating bureau the Social Welfare Bureau are the executive arms of the programme.

Dr CHOW Wing-yin Bonnie, recipient of the New Researcher Award 2015 and whose research interests include developmental psychology, received HK$1.4 million research grant from the Quality Education Fund for her study, "Catering the needs of diverse learners using interactive dialogue and creative literacy activities in English language education". The objective of the research is to explore innovative and effective teaching methods to assist teachers in teaching English to primary school pupils. There are four collaborating schools for the study, namely CCC Kei Chun Primary School, SKH Kei Oi Primary School, TWGHs LEO Tung-hai Lee Primary School, and TWGHs Tang Shiu Kin Primary School. About 500 pupils have taken part in the research.

According to Dr CHOW, there are three major steps in the study. Researchers first train teachers of the participating schools on the ways to adopt creative and interactive methods to guide pupils learning English in the classroom. After the training, the teachers implement the creative and interactive teaching methods in their classes. Lastly, the pupils' performance is tested.

The interactive teaching method emphasises active exchange between teachers and pupils. Interactive dialogues on textbook contents are encouraged, so that pupils can deepen their understanding about the meaning and usage of English words and sentences. Teachers make use of teaching materials prepared by the researchers. Multi-level questions created for pupils of different abilities are asked to stimulate their learning. At the same time, teachers also raise creative questions based on the text. On top of exposing students to knowledge beyond the textbook content, the methods also enhance learning interest.

The research is paving the road for learning English with joy and interest, and nurturing pupils to become motivated and lifelong learners.

Dr KWOK LAI Yuk-ching Sylvia and her research team received a HK$1.6 million grant from Bei Shan Tang Foundation for their study, "Application of positive education to nurture sense of wellbeing and promote mental health of primary school pupils". Through the study, positive psychology is brought into the primary school, a pioneering act in Hong Kong. By applying multiple methods, the project helps nurture positive values and life attitude in children from a young age.

Simply put, the objective of positive education is to gradually bring about elements of happy life in pupils through curriculum design and school activities. Some of these elements are positive emotions, good interpersonal relationship, sense of achievement, and engagement. These would help them understand the meaning of life, through which they could better grasp what happiness means. Dr Kwok is grateful for the generous support from Bei Shan Tang Foundation, as well as the cooperation from Baptist (Sha Tin Wai) Lui Ming Choi Primary School. She hopes the research can help pupils understand more about themselves, excel in what they are good at, and cultivate the perseverance, resilience, motivation, and optimism they need for a rewarding life.

Dr Kwok and her research team help teachers, pupils, and parents learn about positive education from four aspects, namely learning, living, teaching, and inclusion. Positive education does not only help improve the harmonious parent-child relationship, promote healthy growth of the young people, but also encourages the next generation to face up to adversity and challenges in life.

The teaching and research teams at CLASS have been conducting researches in various social science topics to uncover causes of problems and to find solutions. The exemplary persistence of the professional staff deserves our admiration and gratitude.