Six faculty members have received Teaching Excellence Awards (TEA) for their contributions to raising the quality of teaching at City University of Hong Kong (CityU).
The winners are Dr Max Hattler, Assistant Professor in the School of Creative Media (SCM), and a team led by Professor Henry Chung Shu-hung, Chair Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering (EE).
Professor Chung’s team comprises Professor Robert Li Kwok-yiu of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Dr Ray Cheung Chak-chung, Associate Professor in EE, Dr King Lai Wai-chiu, Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Dr Lam Miu-ling, Associate Professor in SCM.
To nurture students as successful practising artists, Dr Hattler moves students away from the notion of classroom exercises and places a strong emphasis in his practice-based animation courses on creating finished films ready for exhibition. The production of these artworks is underpinned by a pedagogical framework based on technical advice, contextual studies through screenings, lectures and presentations, and rigorous critiques.
“I aim to offer my students unwavering support on their artistic journeys by regularly providing them with detailed step-by-step feedback on their works in progress, enabling them to achieve outcomes higher than they thought themselves capable of,” he said.
To this end, he regularly submits the films of his students to international film festivals. Around 100 of his students’ films have been screened at over 160 different film festivals, with 30 of these films winning awards and earning mentions, including at some of the world’s top animation festivals.
Dr Hattler also enables collaborations between students and professional musicians. Students are permitted to incorporate their music into their projects. Some of these productions have been accepted as official music videos, giving students a taste of real-world career prospects.
“Seeing my students succeed artistically as well as commercially, both with works created in the classroom and after they have graduated, is what keeps me going,” said Dr Hattler.
Professor Chung’s team shares a common aspiration in adopting the Train the Trainer (TTT) model on courses and for a variety of community projects. This pedagogy emphasises learning through conveying new knowledge and ideas to others, enabling both trainers and trainees to meet their learning goals.
The teaching practice carried out by the team is based on STEAM-related learning activities including workshops, competitions and free lessons for the community. It equips students to be successful trainers and provides them with a platform to reach target participants.
“Our integrated network with the industry, government departments and the education sector has yielded multiple projects, providing students with ample opportunities to experience community-based learning and explore skills and techniques for the delivery of successful training,” said Professor Chung, who believes that the TTT model can help students process knowledge and think at a deeper level.
Professor Li added that the adoption of the TTT model has been extended to primary schools and secondary schools, and it is becoming a driving force in promoting STEAM education in Hong Kong. “We empower not only primary school and secondary school teachers, but also parents and students to be STEAM trainers,” he said. “The project has received an overwhelming response from community partners, and we expect that a greater variety of activities will be developed in the future.”
Dr Lai said that the TTT model can positively impact students’ academic and personal growth. “Through repeated practice and reflection, students become more presentable and are more confident about training design and delivery.”
Dr Cheung added: “Our teaching approach trains up university students who are willing to teach others. Some students even pursue a teaching career after joining our projects.”
Dr Lam believes the TTT model applies to different disciplines. “Some of our students from SCM ran a VR documentary workshop for secondary school teachers and students. This experience helps them master essential life skills for their future success,” she said.
CityU introduced the TEA in 1993 to honour outstanding teachers and promote best teaching practices. Each awardee receives a cash prize of HK$15,000 for staff development, and each award recipient and winning team gets a grant of HK$150,000 to undertake a teaching development project.