I have been teaching in some form or another for over a decade. As a graduate student, my teaching career began leading discussion tutorials for the series of introductory physics courses at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Since then I have taught courses in a variety of science related fields all over the world, in the US, Sub-saharan Africa, the Middle East and am now engaged in the Common Core Curriculum here at the University of Hong Kong.
Although these experiences are rather varied, I find some common threads hold throughout that have shaped the philosophy of my teaching practice. Globally, there is a trend to move away from specialization and towards adaptability and critical thinking. However, students from exam-based secondary school curricula may have relied heavily on memorization of model answers and too little on analysis and insight. In this light, it is important that students entering university study have the opportunity to interact with examples from a variety of real world contexts and to be confronted with competing ideas. A teacher should be equally comfortable talking at a white board or in front of a Powerpoint presentation as they are kneeling down at a table where students are working in small groups. A teacher should bring enthusiasm, passion and friendliness in order to inspire students in an active learning environment. Finally, a teacher must continuously reflect on one's own practice with open-mindedness, adaptability and innovation.
Increasingly, I am drawn to the importance of assessment for learning. Coming from a background where continuous and informal feedback is commonplace, I believe that this is a very effective mode of learning. In my work in the HKU Common Core, we are encouraged to provide a variety of different assessment modes. This experimental and innovative environment has shown me how innovative assessment practices can increase student engagement, self-assessment and transformation. Teachers should be willing to put aside the assessment modes that sufficed in the past and contemplate new methods to engage students
Since joining the Faculty of Science in August 2012, it has been my pleasure to engage in supporting teaching and learning activities in the Common Core Curriculum as a course tutor and more recently as a key teacher and developer of new courses. The role of a course tutor is greatly varied. It seems that delivering tutorials is only the beginning. Tutors are relied upon by course coordinators to assist in the development of course materials including diverse assessments, guidelines, rubrics, tutorial curricula and lecture notes. We mark assignments. We plan and coordinate special events and activities. We serve as intermediaries between students and professors and respond to student inquiries big and small. We perform administrative tasks and maintain course home pages. It has been a great pleasure for me to take on these many roles in a variety of different courses. As each course coordinator has a unique style, each course demands different contributions and support. I have had to draw from the entire breadth of my experience in order to perform this job well.
Simplifying Complexity is a course I have developed with Dr. Tim Bonebrake from the Environmental Science program. This course exposes students to the failures of reductionism and introduces some of the tools, methods and applications of complexity science.
Below you may find links to to my lecture notes I have developed for this course.
Our Place in The Universe has been developed by, Prof. Sun Kwok. This course gives an historical account of the interplay between culture, philosophy and our increasing understanding of our place in the cosmos.
After Prof. Kwok's retirement in 2018, I have taken on the role of Course Coordinator for this course.
Hidden Order in Our Daily Lives was first developed by Dr. Patrick Ng and Dr. Tsing NK. It has been further developed by a number of other teachers throughout its history. This course covers a variety of mathematical topics covering two major themes: information processing and decision making.
My role in this course is to deliver and develop materials for small group discussions and problem solving.
Statistics and Our Society has been developed by Dr. Cheung KC and Prof. Li WK. This course focuses on the ability to design and interpret sample surveys and various indices as well as how they are reported in the press or other research publications.
My role in this course once again involves developing materials for small group discussion and problem solving tutorials. I am then largely responsible for delivering those materials.
Time's Arrow has been developed primarily by Dr. LI Yiliang in Earth Sciences with support from myself and Dr. William Cheung. This course deals with the nature, measurement and perceptions of time as well as the discovery and importance of "deep time".
I currently play a support role in this course, facilitating and developing creative assessments.