Students help students help themselves

Audrey Chung

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“Without any advice or support from my mentor," the young woman testified, "I would not have acquired time management skills.” On Orientation Day, University President Professor H K Chang’s remarks about the importance of time management had struck a chord in

Hui Pik-wah, a first-year Electronic
and Communication Engineering studentHui may have harboured doubts about her ability to succeed when she started out at CityU, but you would never guess that now.  Today, she thanks fellow student, Yiu Kin-lim for helping her adjust to university life. CityU's Student Mentoring Scheme (SMS) brought them together.  

 

“My main responsibility is to help first-year students understand what university education is all about," Yiu, a second-year BEng (Hons) student, responds, "and it is vital to let them know what resources are available in order to enrich their university life, benefit their studies and prepare them well for their future career.” Among the many student-centred and learning outcome oriented extra-curricular activities at

CityU, the Student Mentoring and Supplemental Instruction (SI) Schemes are known for empowering senior students to support first-year student success and and boost their motivation. 

 

In recognition of staff and students' efforts to establish a cooperative learning culture, Professor Edmond Ko, CityU Vice-President (Undergraduate Education), presented certificates to SI and SMS supervisory staff, and student mentors and leaders on 27 May. “One distinguishing

feature of the Schemes is that both are designed in a way that enables students to help fellow students learn better. In other words, you have help yourselves,” he said. “Your efforts are appreciated. I hope that you have benefited from the Schemes and that the impact reaches beyond receiving a certificate this afternoon.”

 

Established in 1999 and funded and administered by Office of the Vice-President (Undergraduate Education), the SMS aims to help freshmen successfully launch themselves into higher education. By enrolling as mentors who give academic guidance to first-year mentees on a voluntary basis, senior students generate the friendly atmosphere and quality academic culture of CityU. Up to academic year 2003-04, 1,100 senior and final-year student mentors and 4,562 first-year mentees from all departments have been involved. The student mentors receive training from the Student Development Services (SDS) and others, such as the First-year Student Support Centre which operates through the summer. To date, 40 members of staff have acted as Coordinators.

 

Dr Eric W M Wong, Associate Professor in the Department of Electronic Engineering (EE), shared his enjoyment of having been a Coordinator for three years and showed some photos of various SMS activities. “From the training camp in June 2003 to the company visit in January 2004, the SMS helps student mentors learn to help other students. We try to expand their social circle through inter-departmental events, such as BBQs and hiking, and above all, opening the eyes of mentors and mentees to the latest developments, so as to prepare them for their future careers,”  Dr Wong said.

 

The Supplemental Instruction Scheme (SI) was established in 2001 within the Faculty of Business (FB) by Dr Margaret Poon, Associate Professor of Department of Accountancy, and Mr Joseph Chan, Acting Director, SDS. Also funded by the Office of the Vice-President, it developed into a university-wide scheme in 2003. The number of participating departments increased from 4 in 2001 to 14 in 2004. SI aims to enhance students’ understanding of course materials, improve students’ overall learning and reasoning skills and increase students’ psychological health through providing personal support. Currently a total of 39 staff, 252 leaders and 1,000 students are involved.

 

Ms Sally Tsang, Instructor in the

(MS), has been involved in the SI scheme for two and a half years and is one of the supervisors involved in collaborating with instructors to select SI leadership candidates. Sally commented that apart from academic achievement, breadth and depth of subject knowledge, time management, problem solving, note-taking, and information searching skills, a positive attitude is an important attribute of SI leaders. She also found that students took initiatives to develop into  well-rounded individuals, for instance, by joining departmental exchange programmes, internships organized by SDS, the Student Ambassador scheme, and Service Learning Initiative scheme. According to Sally, “SI leaders are mature and independent learners who demonstrate a strong sense of CityU community spirit."

 

If Hui and Yiu's experience is anything to go by, the University is moving steadily along the right track by helping students help themselves. 

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