CityU embarks on major initiative to raise teaching and learning quality

Karen Cheng

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City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has embarked on a major initiative to enhance student learning and teaching quality. The overall aim is to nurture ideal graduates who are responsible professionals with skills of immediate use to the community.

The Outcomes Based Teaching and Learning (OBTL) Project, which will be implemented in about 2,400 academic courses during the period 2006-09, is a key project that complements the University's planning for the four-year undergraduate curriculum.

OBTL sets out to establish a framework in which teaching and learning activities are made more effective, thus improving the overall quality of teaching and learning at the University. It is a student-centred approach that involves teachers identifying what they want their students to be able to do after finishing a prescribed course of study, and then developing teaching and learning activities in such a way that facilitates students achieving those outcomes.

Professor Paul Lam Kwan-sing, Acting Vice-President (Undergraduate Education) of CityU, said CityU was the most enthusiastic higher education institution to implement OBTL, and has actually made it a teaching policy.

The University began its OBTL development in mid-2005 with the support of the University Grants Committee (UGC), building upon positive comments in the last two Teaching and Learning Quality Process Reviews in which the UGC commended CityU for its exemplary Quality Assurance framework.

So far, during the delivery period of 2006-09, about 300 academic courses have been delivered in the OBTL framework in this academic year. Another 600 will be delivered in 2007-08, and the rest over the two remaining years.

To familiarize teachers with the OBTL approach, the University has engaged external consultants to assist in OBTL implementation and organized workshops and meetings with academic departments.

Professor Joseph Cheng Yu-shek, Chairman of the Quality Assurance Committee of CityU, said initial feedback indicated that OBTL had helped to develop deeper and more satisfying links between teachers and students and within their respective peer groups.

"The net effect is to increase engagement and enjoyment in the teaching-learning process and potentially to raise standards, though it will be several years before the impact of OBTL methods can be fully calibrated," Professor Cheng said.

A booklet entitled Outcomes Based Teaching and Learning: The Experience has been published by the University for distribution to all academic staff. The publication details the experience and comments of teachers who have taught their courses in the OBTL framework, and the way ahead. A video introducing the concept and basics of OBTL will also be produced for distribution to teachers and students.


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