The new Associate Academic Vice President (TLD) Dr. Amy Chan talks about the General Education Programme


Dr. CHAN Kit Sze Amy, the newly appointed Associate Academic Vice President (Teaching and Learning Development), has been in her new post since July 2016. One of her main responsibility is to prepare for the introduction of the General Education (GE) Programme in 2017-2018 academic year. Shue Yan Newsletter reporter interviewed her on September 13 and asked her questions about some details of the proposed GE Programme, her other main duties, and the differences between a senior administrative officer and an Associate Professor of the English department.

Q: reporter

Amy: Dr. Amy CHAN

Q: The University is going to introduce the General Education curriculum (GE) in 2017-18 academic year. As the Associate Academic Vice President for teaching and learning development and being vested with the responsibility to plan the GE curriculum, can you tell us what the purposes and aims of Shue Yan’s GE are?

Amy: General education has been a major educational component for university undergraduate programme and for all University Grant Committee (UGC) universities in Hong Kong. Our GE Programme should reflect the motto of SYU and the spirit of our Graduate Attributes. In short, the purpose of our GE Programme is to nurture articulate, open-minded critical thinkers with a passion for lifelong learning, self-improvement and social responsibility. The objective of the GE Programme is to provide students with opportunities to develop and apply relevant skills, knowledge, and social responsibilities regardless of their majors or career plans.

Q: Is Shue Yan’s GE Prpgramme credit bearing? Students should finish the Programme  which year of study?

Amy: The Quality Assurance Committee (QAC) will discuss our GE Programme proposal at the coming meeting before the end of September. We recommend that there will be a requirement for all students to complete a total of 12 credits of GE courses (a total of four courses), 3 credits in each of the four main areas. It is advised that students should fulfill the requirement in the first three years of study.

Q: Why it is 12 credits and not more, like some of the UGC universities?

Amy: We have talked to some department heads and realize that some programmes are very demanding, and 12 credits is the maximum for them. As you may know, we have just introduced the Minor programme option. If we add up the 15 credits of the minor programme and 12 credits of the GE Programme, the total is 27 credits. It is not a small number.

Q: What are the four areas? How many courses will be provided?

Amy: The four areas are: (1) Chinese Heritage in the 21st Century; (2) Communication and Literacy; (3) Personal Growth; and (4) Interdisciplinary Studies.

Confucian thought and Chinese culture have been included in First Year Chinese. The proposed GE curriculum builds on this foundation and provides courses that make ancient Chinese philosophy and culture relevant to the 21st century. Courses designed for this area could include topics such as: Confucianism and global affairs, Confucianism and Daoism in the 21st Century, Chinese philosophy and ecology, Confucianism and management science, Daoism and ecology, Daoism and health, Buddhism and science, Kungfu and Chinese philosophy and etc.

Regarding the second area Communication and Literacy, we note that the advent of information and communication technology in the 21st century has increased the complexity of the literate environment. Literacy, traditionally defined as the ability to read, write and use arithmetic, refers now to a wider range of abilities and competencies. According to the U. S. National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), a literate person in the 21st century global society must be able to develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology, build intentional cross-cultural connections and relationships, and have the abilities to analyze and evaluate multimedia texts. We hope that upon completion of the courses in this area, students should be able to value judgment by applying critical skills and demonstrate their literacy in mass media. And we plan to help students to look further beyond the technology, for example, to let them think about the relationships between mobile phone and their identities. Topics in this area include theory and practice of cutting edge information and communication technology, digital media in everyday life, potential of ICT and/or digital games in civic education, potential of video games for civic education and etc.

Regarding area (3) Personal Growth, we realize that the transition from high school education to tertiary education is one of the very important milestones and challenges for young adults. First-year students often experience a considerable amount of stress and frustration as they find themselves caught in a labyrinth of unknowns, and do not have clear directions and academic skills necessary to manage the demanding curriculum. This area of the GE programme aims to promote self-awareness and to develop core academic and interpersonal skills with the view of helping them manage and excel in their academic pursuits. It also facilitate students to develop a healthy lifestyle and good learning habits that can facilitate their personal and professional development. Courses could include topics such as: core competencies in university study, spirituality and life meaning of life, and critical thinking.

Area (4) Interdisciplinary Studies is an approach to answering questions, solving problems and addressing contemporary social issues by synthesizing knowledge from multiple disciplines. Interdisciplinary Studies has become popular in local and overseas tertiary institutions and is considered to be a new paradigm for creating knowledge in the 21st century. The idea of interdisciplinarity would lead students to view the world as an integrated whole and learn to solve a problem with knowledges acquired from different disciplines. Courses for this area could include the following topics: pop science and humanities, society and environment, social issues from multi-perspectives, sports and media, and poetry and science.

The above topics mentioned are just suggestions. If the proposal is approved by the Academic Board, we will invite our colleagues to submit their course proposals and participate in the GE Programme.

Q. How many courses will be provided in the first year of the GE programme in 2017-18? And how potential courses are selected?

Amy: After gaining the approval of QAC and Academic Board, departments will be invited to submit course proposals in November. The Academic Vice President will then form a taskforce to select the courses to be included in the Programme. We hope that the list of courses selected will be released in January 2017. So at this moment, I can’t tell you exactly how many courses will be provided. I hope that the full-fledged GE prgoramme will provide not less than 15 courses in each of the four areas.

Q. Will there be a trade-off between the introduction of GE programme and the maintaining of the traditional, introductory humanities courses, such as Introduction to Sociology, Introduction to Philosophy and Introductory Psychology?

Amy: It may happen, but we envisage that some will be included in the GE programme with some revisions, for example, Critical Thinking. It depends on whether the instructors are willing to revise the courses according to the Programme Intended Learning Outcomes and Course Intended Learning Outcomes of the GE programme.

Q: Besides the GE Programme, what are your other responsibilities?

Amy: I am also responsible for quality assurance matters of the University and chair the QAC meetings. I will formulate initiatives to promote teaching and learning in Shue Yan, and to plan seminars and workshop for academic staff. My duties also include: preparing proposal for the launching of the MPhil and PhD programmes, matters related to the validation and re-validation, streamlining the credit transfer system and academic matters of the Study Abroad Scheme. Moreover, technology used in teaching and learning and facilities in classrooms and lecture rooms is also within my responsibility. For example, we are looking at the feasibility of recording lectures and make them available in Moodle.

Q: You have been in the new post since July this year. Have you adapted to it? What is the difference between being an associate professor focusing on teaching and researching and being a senior administrative officer focusing on planning and administrative works?

Amy: In fact, I have been working for the new post starting from May this year, researching on GE in different universities and drafting the proposal. I am gradually adapting to the new post. I would say I love teaching and research more than administrative work. But the new post is more than administrative. It gives me the unique opportunity to look at the big picture of university education, to try new things, including introducing more advanced technology in teaching and learning. Looking at it from this perspective, this new post enables me to serve more people and perhaps to make more contribution to the students and the University. I am excited to take up this challenge.

Source: September Issue 2016

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