President’s Lecture Series: Excellence in Academia
"Re-defining the Teaching-Research Nexus:
Building the CityU Discovery-enriched Curriculum"
by Professor Arthur Ellis, Provost

Q & A

Q: Amazing...
why this app can do it? so amazing!
It is very interesting work
The technology illustrates the power of anonymous polling. So many questions asked!

Art: It is indeed remarkable that we can collect so much constructive feedback and so many questions this quickly. We received altogether 85 responses.

Q: Don’t stop at understanding, go beyond to create!
Students cannot learn/understand everything, better to invest time/energy to develop creative ability alongside.

Art: That’s the philosophy behind the DEC. We still need to ensure that students learn the knowledge and skills that will enable them to be educated in their chosen profession, but in parallel we want to develop their ability to create/innovate/discover that will enable them to adjust to whatever changes and challenges lie ahead and to develop the self-confidence that they can do this. This is why we describe the curriculum as “enriched” with discovery.

Q: Increase the international exchange chance

Art: This is indeed one of the goals in CityU’s ADP.

Q: Should we expect TAs to take care of the learning technology? Support is needed to carry out in class exercises using IT.
What are being provided in CityU to support staff in using new technology for teaching?
We need iPad for each faculty and student.
How do you ensure that colleagues make use of this technology?
What funding would you offer to a teacher to implement this?
What are the challenges implementing this for all of the students at CU?
Are we going to provide students with iPods?
This is a smart device. Can we keep this device for further testing?
Can I keep the iPod touch? (just kidding).
Can you give the cute iPod touch to me?
Is the iPod free?

Art: I’m glad you liked using the devices. Discovery and innovation may or may not involve the use of new technology. What really matters are innovative thinking and creative ideas. We want students and staff to go beyond the technology itself to determine how we use it effectively for teaching and learning. As staff and students express interest in using a new technology, our Office of EDGE, the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO), and the Finance Office will work with my office and the Departments, Schools and Colleges to assist in determining how best to deploy it for teaching and learning. There are regular workshops organised by the OCIO to provide training to staff members on how to use IT in teaching. The SG8001 course also provides training to TAs to learn how to utilise CityU IT teaching software. Funds can be made available from a variety of sources including Teaching Development Grants to allow staff and students to experiment with new technologies. The same is true more generally for all new DEC-related ideas: we want to be able to support new ideas, so please share them with EDGE and your academic units, and we will work with them to identify resources that may be needed for implementation. EDGE and the OCIO will also be working together to provide more IT tools to support teaching and learning at CityU.

Q: How are you motivating staff to engage in all these innovative projects when they are teaching larger classes and more hours?
How to motivate all staff in the initiative?
How do you motivate colleagues to participate DEC curriculum reform?

Art: We have asked all academic units to prune their course offerings and add staff for 2012/13 so that workloads can be adjusted to reasonable levels and staff will have the flexibility to fully engage in the DEC. The CityU International Transition Team scheme and the GTA scheme provide funds to bring visitors to CityU – postgraduate students, postdoctoral scholars and visiting faculty - to assist us with teaching; details may be found at We are also using the PBPR scheme and revamping the teaching surveys, Teaching Excellence Awards criteria, and Teaching Development Grant scheme to better align staff efforts with the ADP and the DEC. We believe that colleagues and students will embrace the DEC curriculum with enthusiasm once they realize its potential as a platform for creative expression and self-fulfillment.

Q: Dear Ellis, Thank for this wonderful talk. In meeting the innovative & discovery mission, cooperation and stability of staff, especially the diligent teaching staffs is important. Any strategy CityU will employ to keep this group of staffs?
Do u welcome all staff, not just faculty, to join realizing your vision? Are they eligible for applying related grants?

Art: Absolutely. We want the teaching staff to feel fully invested in implementing the DEC and to be rewarded for their efforts to advance it. They are full partners in all DEC-related activities, as can be seen in the IPDA call for proposals and the GE course-related opportunities. Eligibility for teaching resources and awards also apply to all staff involved with teaching. I gave examples in my talk of initiatives from academic staff who are already contributing to the DEC through their classes and would appreciate learning about other examples that I can feature in subsequent presentations.

Q: Some teachers may not be so upbeat about changes, how do you deal with that?
How do you bring the less energetic teachers to buy-in? It is tough for them to jump up to this level.
How would you make sure that all teachers in ciCityUtyu would take part in making DEC a success?

Art: We expect that the infectious support and enthusiasm of colleagues and students will encourage everyone to participate over time. Many CityU teachers are already implementing a DEC, and we are confident that many more will follow suit. CityU will offer many ways for staff to contribute to the DEC.

Q: How will you define "discovery"?
What's the inside meaning of discovery and innovate for our students? Thank you.
What distinguishes an "original discovery" and what are some examples of effective use of discovery in a way that can link discover across courses
What about discovery outside of classroom?

Art: When we speak of an original discovery/innovation/creation we mean that it is an original contribution from our student or team of students that would be identified as such by an expert in the field, such as a member of our staff. Our Building the Discovery-enriched Curriculum website at has some criteria that were identified at a recent workshop we held on assessment of the DEC. Our parallel efforts to facilitate interdisciplinary approaches to scholarship provide a foundation for linking discoveries across courses that are in traditional disciplinary areas. We look forward to the use of the Idea Incubators and GE Discovery Lab we are establishing as venues that can assist in nurturing discovery/innovation/creativity and developing discovery-related links across courses.

Q: Dear Provost, How many years will this new learning and study scheme last?

Art: The DEC is our academic blueprint for the coming three years as stated in our Academic Development Proposal (ADP) and agreed upon with the UGC. It will evolve with time like other initiatives.

Q: How about the connections with the industrial and commercial sectors in Hong Kong?

Art: Knowledge Transfer (KT) is strongly supported by the UGC and is an important element of our DEC. We are working with VP(RT) Greg Raupp, the Knowledge Transfer Office (KTO), and academic units to build closer ties with industries as well as government and NGOs to inform our academic endeavors and make them as relevant as possible. We think the Idea Incubators and GE Discovery Lab will be excellent vehicles for these connections.

Q: What is your advice on discovery in the realm of idea in the humanities and the less tangible aspects of innovation?
It seems much tougher to have creative ideas in social science field like philosophy, policy and so on, how to deal with it
How can students from arts and humanities stream discover n innovate?
As an art student. How do u innovate them

Art: As I mentioned in my talk, there are exciting new opportunities for discoveries in these areas related to digital humanities, large data sets, cultural heritage projects, and social science projects that impact the Hong Kong community. Our colleagues have already identified a number of specific examples that I noted. Our campus can identify many other such opportunities for our staff and students. Discovery and Innovation stand at the heart of the arts and philosophy. Examples are abundant, such as creative writing, artistic work, original performances, discovery of novel concepts, or applying philosophical insights to inspire new interpretations of realities or innovative approaches to problems and issues related to human existence.

Q: How can a law student create new knowledge?

Art: The School of Law sees the writing of articles, publication in journals, and participation in mooting as involving innovative thinking and discovery of new knowledge, new analytical skills and new research methodology. In addition, cases that have been decided in the common law system can sometimes be used as precedents through “case notes” that students might help write.

Q: How can you measure dec makes a difference?
I believe that D&I can motivate students to learn more actively and proactively. However certain evaluation schemes should be in place to help inform everyone the impact of the promotion of D&I. Any plan yet?
Not all students got the understanding and ba
Perhaps the next activity to be developed is to design a comprehensive scheme/ structure to assess the students' achievement of this learning outcome - discovery.

Art: As noted above, assessment is a key part of planning the DEC and we welcome your ideas. Please see the BDEC website at for a summary of the workshop on assessment where a number of our colleagues began the process of outlining assessment of the DEC with the help of an expert consultant, Prof. Brian Coppola from U. Michigan; the website also provides many examples and resources from campus efforts to date. As I mentioned in the talk, we particularly will want your help in determining whether there are changes in students’ attitudes toward learning and creativity; their ability to draw ideas from different areas to generate unique knowledge; and their taking advantage of opportunities to try out their ideas. The President’s and Provost’s initiative for integrating the DEC into the OBTL framework will allow all our colleagues to systematically determine how discovery/innovation/creativity fits into all of CityU’s courses and programmes, thereby ensuring that the DEC becomes part of the DNA of the CityU curriculum and can be assessed appropriately.

Q: If students use iPad to play computer games in the lectures, what should teachers do?

Art: Teachers and students will have to work together on making the lecture a meaningful experience with a focus on learning.

Q: How to ensure concerted efforts from all departments? Is there any effective approach identified to help inform & guide students to all grants and resources related to D&I?

Art: Our office and EDGE are working closely with Deans and Heads to ensure there are adequate resources to support the DEC and that all academic units are working toward the common goals of the DEC. We will work closely with the academic units and with the VP(SA) to see that students are aware of the grants and resources related to the DEC that are accessible to them.

Q: How can students in years 2 & 3 also given similar, if not stronger, D&I opportunities? It seems the focus is on year 1 students.
How do the phd students engage in this plan

Art: We expect that all students will engage in the DEC and that opportunities will increase as they progress through the curriculum. The first year is particularly critical, however, as it sets the stage for the new 3-3-4 curriculum with its additional year, and it establishes the culture required for implementation of the DEC. Postgraduate students can certainly participate in projects, including leading some of them, and assist in mentoring younger students.

Q: Thank you for your talk. Is there anyone in the uni serving as a coordinator so that if we have question, we can turn to?
Is there a special website we can refer to?
How will we measure students' discovery success? Do we expect breakthroughs?

Art: As questions arise, please feel free to contact Associate Provosts Chris Wagner and Gary Feng, EDGE Director Shuk Han Cheng, and me. Please see the website on Building the Discovery-enriched Curriculum at , which is intended to be a living repository of DEC-related information that we are accumulating at CityU. For example, a workshop was held recently on assessment of the DEC and information about it may be found at the website. In terms of measuring students’ success related to discovery, there are traditional outputs from students like papers, intellectual property, and creative works, but we anticipate many other forms of discovery/innovation/creativity will result from the DEC. Some of these are likely to be significant breakthroughs based on the impressive track record of CityU’s talented student body.

Q: Are you planning a study of ways to reduce administrative burden for academic staff at CityU?

Art: This is already in process. We are introducing a variety of electronic business tools for academic and administrative units that will streamline our practices and workflow. As we noted in the ADP, we will reduce dwell times for transactions and costs per transaction. We will also minimize the requests that central offices make on academic staff to those that are essential.

Q: Is it possible to set up a new research center at city?
How city u assist new faculty members financially? Since the internal start up fund is not sufficient for setting up a biological science related lab.

Art: These questions are more properly answered by VP(RT) Greg Raupp and the leaders of the cognizant academic units.

Q: How does the university assess the research outputs in the evaluation of a research staff?

Art: The academic units have now all defined how research will be assessed through their PBPR criteria.

Q: Classes in 344 primary school in HK have sizes of 25 or less, but in CityU we have size much over that. How do you reconciliate with that difference?

Art: Each institution has its own constraints. In early schooling, small class sizes may be especially important. At CityU, we are trying to achieve an appropriate balance across the number and size of classes, which reflect the number of staff and students at CityU; and the quality of teaching and learning.

Q: How do you think of the future of the solar energy ? Is there any chance to further raise the transfer efficiency? What is CityU doing in this field?

Art: I think renewable energy sources like solar energy are an essential part of meeting future energy needs and I’m optimistic about increases in transfer efficiency. CityU has researchers working in solar energy-related fields and the campus is also investing in greening the campus, including use of solar panels.

Q: How many students are there in CityU?

Art: Our website at states that there were more than 18,000 students at CityU during the 2010/11 academic year.

Q: What do you think are the benefits and limitations of virtual laboratories?

Art: There are many situations where an actual laboratory may not be possible because of cost, space and safety issues, for example, but a virtual laboratory could provide many of the same benefits. The limitations may be related to not having direct experience with some of what is demonstrated in the virtual laboratories.

Q: Is it more important to teach students the methodology and fundamentals for discovery than let students do discovery something?

Art: Providing the foundation for making discoveries and at the same time providing the opportunity for making discoveries is at the heart of the DEC’s philosophy. We are simply enriching our curriculum by retaining and building on the many outstanding features it already possesses. As I mentioned in the lecture, we hope to impact students’ attitudes, their ability to draw upon ideas from different sources, and to provide the chance for them to be able to discover/innovate/create while at CityU.

Q: What is the most important factor for the development of Cityu?
How to help students to find their interests they really love effectively?

Art: Helping students achieve excellence in professional education is CityU’s goal. The new first-year experience with cutting-edge Gateway Education (GE) courses is designed to give students at least a year to determine what area of scholarship excites them; while their core courses will lay the foundation for becoming a practitioner in a field at the level of at least international standards and for making original contributions to their field.

Q: How motivated are the students?
Cityu students are passive, how do you change their culture?

Art: We expect that the DEC will create an enthusiasm for teaching and learning that will create a “buzz” and draw other students into the experience. We are empowering our students to make an impact, by contributing to the knowledge in our society. Many of our students are already making discoveries, innovations and creative works, as I illustrated in my talk.

Q: Thanks for your presentation. Most of your initiatives are knowledge and/or individual basis. What about those soft skills (e.g. leadership)?

Art: Soft skills like leadership, communication, and technology, as well as ethics and social responsibility, are cross-cutting themes of the DEC. We think that in any course and programme there are “teachable moments” for these themes that teachers can use to raise consciousness and provide experiences that allow students to develop in these areas, too.

Q: How soon do I get the answer for my question?

Art: We will try to post these by early in the week of 26 September 2011.

Q: What is your name?

Art: Art Ellis. My Chinese name is 李博亞.

Q: Have you tried moon cakes yet?

Art: Yes, and I appreciate the innovation that goes into their preparation.

Q: What is your favorite spot on campus?

Art: The Chinese garden.

Q: You love city?

Art: Yes – Hong Kong is a fantastic place to live and work!

Q: A very inspiring session. Thank you.
Excellent presentation, should do more to promote these ideas on and off campus
Prof Ellis, nice sharing!
Great talk
Great talk!
Great talk Art!
Thanks for this lecture

Art: Thanks to all of you for coming. I look forward to building the DEC with you at CityU. Please send me a note at any time with your thoughts.