Teaching Innovation Award / Teaching Award
- Winners in 2018 -
Winners of Teaching Innovation Award in 2018
Teaching Innovation Award
Dr Peter Edward Rees JORDAN
Department of English
Mission Statement:
Embracing diversity and satisfying curiosity leads to creative innovation
The fear of being wrong, the fear of appearing stupid and the fear of failure are major obstacles to discovery. Yet in real life we often learn our greatest lessons through making mistakes. The bigger the mistake, the greater the lesson. A safe, but challenging learning environment encourages students to engage proactively with their subject, to explore, to experiment, to take chances and to discover.

Dr Jordan’s teaching methodology involves a high level of in-class interaction. The aim is to encourage students to treat their learning, not only as a personal process, but also as a collective endeavour, based on mutual curiosity and a respect for diversity. Students are free to offer opinions and float ideas without fear of ridicule or censure; to argue, to disagree, to present alternative viewpoints; to listen, to reflect, to be adaptable; and above all, to not fear failure.

All arts-based disciplines recognise that truth and reality are mediated by individual perception, experience and imagination. Even theoretical physics, much like fine arts, requires the exercise of imagination to explore and extend the boundaries of the discipline.

One particularly effective tool for teaching and learning is drama. As both an art form and a transferrable skill, drama can help students to engage, enquire and discover through the use of imagination: the real sixth sense. Drama not only facilitates language acquisition and application, but it also provides an opportunity to explore other fields such as history, law and psychology, or to examine moral, social and ontological issues.

Most of all, this process motivates students to take ownership and responsibility for their learning experience.

Students involved in Dr Jordan's drama project, Museum, won the inaugural DEC competition (Undergraduate Group Section) in 2015.

Teaching Innovation Award
Dr Sean Kenji STARRS
Department of Asian and International Studies
Mission Statement:
Question Everything & Everyone, Including Me & You!
‘Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.’ – Albert Einstein. With this motto in mind, Sean applies diverse tactics to create an atmosphere in which students feel comfortable challenging everything and everyone, including the professor and themselves, both inside and outside the classroom. The aim is to help students to gain life-long critical thinking skills, an instinct for freedom and democracy, and a passion for helping to make a better world, both for people and the planet.

As students enter the classroom to the tunes of electronic dance music and observe a professor at the front of the lecture theatre in a pink floral shirt and Birkenstock sandals, they soon realise that they are entering an alternative world of education. In this environment, nothing is sacred: everything and everyone is challenged, no assumptions or opinions are taken for granted (including the professor’s) and the students are encouraged to do one of the most difficult things – to challenge themselves.

Moreover, through incorporating the spirit of participatory education as espoused by educators such as Noam Chomsky and Paulo Freire, Sean’s course assignments emphasise continuous, active learning, rather than the rote memorisation and passivity associated with preparation for final exams. Sean gives innovative assignments, such as weekly ‘think pieces’ that are akin to diaries of self-reflection, weekly in-class and online engagement sessions, the creation of DEC-video essays (with interviews on poverty or environmental destruction in Hong Kong) and peer-reviewed student debates. He uses a highly interactive and microphone-free lecturing style that incorporates oratory and performance theatrics such as wild gestures modelled on stand-up comedians such as Chris Rock.

Sean’s most innovative class is AIS2200: Intro to International Studies Through Film, which visualises six core global issues via five Hollywood movies and one Chinese film. This course emphasises how sometimes-abstract global issues are directly related to the students’ daily lives, and it has inspired hundreds of students to dream of making a positive difference in the world.

Teaching Innovation Award (Merit)
Department of Public Policy
Mission Statement:
Situated community learning
Drawing insights from master-apprentice mentorship, situated community learning stresses hands-on lecturing and real issue-driven learning in an interactive community. This approach encourages students to build up a learning community, to reach out and seek solutions proactively and eventually to dismantle the walls between the classroom and the larger world.

Dr Wang’s teaching philosophy is derived from her research on cultural cities. In the sector of fine arts, the master-apprentice workshop still prevails. Moreover, a master-apprentice mentorship model has been derived from this mechanism, and this model has been adopted in professional disciplines such as medicine, where engagement with the real world matters. She believes that this approach also applies to urban governance. The philosophy for this approach is ‘situated community learning’, which stresses hands-on lecturing and real issue-driven learning in an interactive community. This approach encourages students to build up a learning community, to reach out and seek solutions proactively and eventually to dismantle the walls between the classroom and the larger world. The pedagogical strategies involved include role play, participatory study and video-making, as means for illustrating the mosaic of urban issues. She tries to develop situated community learning through open and interactive relationships – relations between the students and their instructor, relations with themselves and relations with the broader world.

Winners of Teaching Award in 2018
Teaching Award
Department of Media and Communication
Mission Statement:
Discovery by addressing community challenges, through strategic and creative communication campaigns
Learning and discovery are continual processes of re-examination, which require innovative tactical approaches. Through the use of diverse digital technologies, customised participation, discussion of media messages and clearly planned outlines, Ms Hernandez helps her students to develop creative communication campaigns for local community projects. These projects have involved dealing with gender violence, enabling diversity in the workplace, supporting immigrants’ rights and empowering local businesses. Connecting the students’ learning experiences to larger strategic processes helps them to find innovative ways to participate in constructing their professional objectives, while gaining an understanding of the challenges their society faces.

Ms Hernandez has been the instructor of record for courses on consumer behaviour, advertising production and integrated marketing communication. In these courses she seeks to connect her students’ experiences of learning and discovery to larger strategic planning processes, to their communities’ social challenges and to their professional careers. Through engagement in technology-driven activities, innovative problem-based projects and experiential-learning practices, her students learn to conduct primary research. Then they apply their research to develop creative briefs and campaigns for public relations and integrated marketing. To gain comprehension and discover new insights, the students subject their prototypes and strategic outlines to multiple rounds of revision throughout the semester. The projects they have generated include public relations campaigns to promote labour inclusion of people with Down syndrome, efforts to reduce mobile phone use by students and programmes to improve sleeping habits. The students have also worked with local NGOs to promote awareness regarding gender-based violence and migrant rights issues. They have produced sophisticated television and print advertisements for local products.

Through in-class discussions, online interactions and extracurricular seminars, Ms Hernandez encourages her students to submit their work to local competitions, attend professionalisation workshops and provide creative services for local NGOs. The effectiveness of her enthusiastic teaching and diverse participatory techniques is corroborated by her TLQ overall and written evaluations, in which her students report pride in their work and engagement in an ongoing discovery process.

Teaching Award
Department of Asian and International Studies
Mission Statement:
Connecting theory with reality and linking learning with life
For maintaining an active learning experience in an energetic, interactive classroom, Ms Maxton-Lee identifies the most effective tools and activities for the students to understand fundamental concepts, and to express their own ideas and identities within each subject. She believes it is important to keep a dynamic and diverse programme of learning activities that is consistent with core learning objectives, and that keeps the students engaged and stimulated.

Helping students to link theories and empirical materials to their own lives and experiences is key to building the bridge between academic and non-academic knowledge. Using graphic art, drama and video in a class on Theories of Development, has helped her undergraduate students to transform cases of third-world and first-world development from theories and empirical data into real-life experiences. The students use various forms of expression to explore the WHYs as well as the WHATs. It is critical to maintain a dialogue, to listen as well as ‘teach’ and to ensure relevance to the students’ own lives. The teacher who gains insights into the students’ own cultures and world-views, can find ‘hooks’ to make learning relevant, interesting and engaging. Those are the kinds of lessons that empower students far beyond the classroom.