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Developing Learning Environments

Developing Learning Environments: Creativity, Motivation and Collaboration in Higher Education

Ora Kwo
Tim Moore
John Jones
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Developing Learning Environments
    Book Description:

    This book addresses critical challenges for university renewal, and sketches critical issues in Hong Kong's higher education that have global implications. Contributors to the book were originally gathered for a conference funded by the University Grants Committee (UGC) of Hong Kong, and took as their starting point the work of the Carnegie Foundation on The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. With the worldwide move towards public accountability, academics live in a climate of assessment and must constantly adapt to new pressures. This book presents a focus on leadership in learning, on the basis of which academics can reconcile pressures and paradoxes, transcend the system, and move on to a public domain where teaching and research can be integrated in scholarly discourse and practice. The shared professional insights, as articulated by the contributors to this book, will be most helpful to academics who are navigating through these turbulent waters. Emerging from the major thrusts of the selected papers are three thematic divisions: Critical and Creative Thinking, Motivation in Learning, and Collaboration in Teaching and Learning. The targeted readers include academics, administrators and policy-makers in higher education. The primary focus is on academics as teachers to whom the contributors can communicate authentically as frontline practitioners in an optimistic tone without being naive. Together, the chapters transcend local concerns, and contribute to a developing international discourse on the impact of scholarship of teaching on learning. Rather than advocating certain approaches from successful experiences, the book generates ideas for research into teaching, making transparent the dynamics of learning.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-098-2
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Prologue: A focus on learning as universities change
    (pp. 1-18)
    Ora Kwo, Tim Moore and John Jones

    This prologue has two aims. First, it addresses critical challenges for university renewal, and the centrality of the scholarship of teaching and learning. Second, it sketches issues in Hong Kong’s higher education. The prologue provides a context for the selected contributions.

    The notion that universities are now positioned in a context of complex and multi-dimensional changes has been well documented and rehearsed. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has succinctly summarized the trend as globalization, regional integration, fragmentation, specialization and marginalization of higher education institutions and the redesign of their programmes and modes of teaching and learning (OECD...


    • [PART I: Introduction]
      (pp. 19-20)

      The aim of promoting critical and creative thinking is a persistent theme in the global discourse. There may be merit in making it explicit that ‘critical’ in this context does not imply opposition to a point of view, or a policy of trying to show that it is wrong, but rather a disposition to question and test it, to explore its presuppositions and consequences, and generally not to take things for granted. If it is possible to correct or amend such a point of view; or to substitute an entirely different approach, this is where creative thinking may come in....

    • 1 Experience with PISER for the enhancement of conceptual and critical thinking
      (pp. 21-30)
      Laurence Snider

      The Peer Instruction method, the basis of which was developed at Harvard University (Mazur 1997), involves reading and conceptual quizzes based on a pre-lecture reading assignment. The questions are designed to encourage students to learn by concentrating on concepts rather than on memorization of equations. Students answer the questions by themselves, following which they are encouraged to discuss their responses with their peers and answer a second time. The results show the extent to which comprehension has increased, and the discussions form the basis of the peer instruction: a good way to learn is to teach. A Learning and Teaching...

    • 2 Walking through students’ thinking processes in a problem-based learning (PBL) engineering course
      (pp. 31-40)
      Patrick Lai, Elaine Tsoi and Chun Wah Chuen

      Pedagogical approaches based on a constructivist view of learning have become increasingly widespread in the last generation or more. One noteworthy example of such an approach is problem-based learning (PBL). PBL, perfectly in keeping with contemporary constructivist views of learning, is an instructional approach that uses real-world case scenarios or problems as the starting point for students to acquire critical thinking, problem-solving and self-directed learning skills.

      Problem-based learning can be characterized as follows. Students are given a series of problems or case scenarios as the starting point of learning. At most, eight students form groups to discuss the problems and...

    • 3 The problem-based learning approach in social work training: Potential and considerations
      (pp. 41-56)
      Debbie O. B. Lam and Donna K. P. Wong

      Social work practice has long been problem based. But, as a university programme, social work training has often followed the traditional mode of lecturing, apart from its practical fieldwork. Experimentation with the problem-based learning (PBL) approach has led to its becoming a popular approach in tertiary education (Branda 1990; Savin-Baden 1997). Studies have demonstrated the positive effects of the approach (DeGrave, Boshuizen, and Sachmidt 1996; Gallagher et al. 1992; Hmelo 1995). By facilitating them in going through a self-directed problem-solving process, students are trained in higher-order thinking skills as well as in how to use a flexible knowledge base (Hmelo...

    • 4 A case for case studies: One teacher’s reflective approach in clinical teaching
      (pp. 57-76)
      Pauline Cho and Josephine M. Csete

      Not all teachers are trained to be ‘professional’ teachers or are prepared in their roles as teachers. Perhaps some excel in their teaching, but many probably would like to learn more about teaching and learning. Over the last century, a large body of research on various issues of teaching and learning techniques and the development of innovative approaches has been accumulated. Teachers who want to learn how to teach or improve their teaching and how to help students learn can therefore rely on these decades of research and development, adapting or modifying what has been achieved to suit the environment...

    • 5 Learning how to learn
      (pp. 77-100)
      Anna S. F. Kwan and Edmond I. Ko

      Sharing the view that critical thinking is a central outcome of tertiary education, we report in this chapter an effort in promoting independent learning among university students, the development of the course Learning to Learn, and its impact on student learning from 1998 to 2001.

      Preparatory programmes for first-year students have been popular in the United States and elsewhere. Research on these programmes has reported positive effects on students, such as improving students’ involvement in university life and interaction with faculty (e.g. Starke 1994), and more favourably, higher passing and retention rates (e.g., Tokuno and Campbell 1992; Zeegers and Martin...


    • [PART II: Introduction]
      (pp. 101-104)

      All the chapters in this section deal in one way or another with the issue of student motivation. As elsewhere, this has received considerable attention in Hong Kong over the past few years, along with growing challenges to the stereotype of ‘Chinese learners’ as passive rote learners, extrinsically motivated, and relying on rote memorization as a study strategy. Like all stereotypes, this was always a gross generalization. The veracity of even the broadest generalization has been thrown into increasing doubt in a number of recent publications (e.g., Watkins and Biggs 1996, 2001; Kember 2000). The following suggestions emerge out of...

    • 6 Developing learner motivation through curriculum innovation
      (pp. 105-136)
      Richard Pemberton, Sarah Carmichael and Martha Lam

      There have been recent calls from the government (e.g., Education Commission 2000) for the development of lifelong learning skills in university students. At the same time, however, there have been strong calls from sectors of the business community, along with the government, for students to demonstrate that they have reached ‘acceptable’ levels of English on leaving university. Many university language courses in Hong Kong, while paying lip service to the need to promote learner responsibility, give learners little chance to control their own learning, and use the limited course time available to prescribe set communication tasks in an attempt to...

    • 7 Designing dialogue: Using the Web to enhance interaction in the teaching and learning of English
      (pp. 137-156)
      Pauline Burton and Wanda Lau

      How can Web-based course design best be used to encourage language learners to interact in the target language? Is it possible to identify success factors in using the Web as a means of ‘designing dialogue’ for learners of English as a second language? These are the questions that are addressed in this chapter.

      To set these questions in a wider context of enquiry, the importance of dialogue as the basis of human communication — and hence, of language learning — is first considered. It is further argued that dialogue is (or can be, under the right conditions) an intrinsically rewarding...

    • 8 Motivation, academic performance, and the challenge of promoting creativity
      (pp. 157-178)
      Giovanni B. Moneta and Christy M. Y. Siu

      Intrinsic motivation is the tendency to engage in tasks because one finds them interesting, challenging, involving, and satisfying. Extrinsic motivation is the tendency to engage in tasks because of task-unrelated factors such as promise of rewards and punishments, dictates from superiors, surveillance, and competition with peers (Deci and Ryan 1985).

      Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be viewed both as state variables, that can vary across situations and times and can be manipulated experimentally, and as trait variables, representing cross-situationally and temporally stable individual tendencies to be intrinsically or extrinsically motivated. Thus, although a person’s levels of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation...

    • 9 Large group sessions and problem-based learning
      (pp. 179-188)
      John Nicholls and L. C. Chan

      In 1997, the Faculty of Medicine changed the undergraduate medical curriculum from a discipline-based, pre-clinical/clinical-based approach to one in which problem-based learning (PBL), organ system teaching, and integration of clinical and interpersonal skills were emphasized (Tang 2001).

      In the first three years of the New Medical Curriculum (NMC), students would have two two-hour PBL sessions as well as one half-day between tutorials for information gathering and synthesis of knowledge per week. To accommodate these new changes, reducing the number of traditional lectures or large group sessions was proposed; otherwise, this would lead to overcrowding of the curriculum. This proposal was...

    • 10 Vocabulary games to motivate English language learners
      (pp. 189-204)
      Monica Hill

      With the tremendous expansion in tertiary education m Hong Kong in the 1990s, it is only to be expected that the average standard of English of university entrants across the territory may be lower. Criticism has been levelled at tertiary institutions regarding the standard of graduates’ communication skills in both English and Chinese. The very best are still excellent, but because more young people can now enter university, it is not surprising that in some disciplines there is a preponderance of students who obtained lower grades of Cs, Ds and Es on their advanced level English paper.

      Such students frequently...


    • [PART III: Introduction]
      (pp. 205-208)

      The idea of the individual and perhaps solitary scholar has a long history For example, the 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes was reputed to have shut himself alone in a room heated by a stove to develop his idea for the reform of human knowledge. In truth, however, important thinkers and educators in different cultures and over a very long time have given a great role to collaborative work in the commonwealth of learning (this includes Descartes). Pedagogically, as this volume and much other evidence show, learning ought not to be viewed as the mere transmission of knowledge, and skills...

    • 11 Incommensurable discourses? The possibilities for collaborative teaching ventures
      (pp. 209-228)
      Colin Barron

      This chapter investigates issues of interdisciplinary collaboration between different departments.¹ It is unusual, because it reports a failure. The reason for doing this is to raise the discussion of collaboration and interdisciplinarity to new levels, especially to the issue of reconciling conflicting philosophies. My aim is to provide an account to explain both success and failure in interdisciplinary ventures on three levels:

      Methodological: issues about different teaching methods and managing the process of collaboration.

      Epistemological: issues about what counts as content, and subordination of English language teachers to subject content.

      Ontological: issues of the status of disciplinary entities and boundaries,...

    • 12 Students’ perspectives on interactive learning
      (pp. 229-244)
      William Littlewood

      In Hong Kong, as in many countries, a central element in teachers’ innovatory experimentation in the classroom is interactive learning. In itself, of course, ‘interactive learning’ is a broad term: learning may take place through any form of interaction between a person’s current conception of some aspect of the world and an alternative conception of this aspect. This alternative conception may come from a source external to the learner (such as a written text or another person), or it may arise internally in the learner (through reflection). For the purposes of this chapter, however, I focus on learning which occurs...

    • 13 Students’ perceived difficulties in learning and their implications for learning to learn
      (pp. 245-268)
      Angela S. P. Ho, Chi Hung Chan, Lucy Sun and Jackie Yan

      The expansion of tertiary education makes it possible for students of a broader range of abilities to enter universities. In many countries, university teachers are finding that their students are no longer as highly selected as before, and universities are threatened with the risk of falling standards of graduates and an increased attrition rate (Peat, Dalziel, and Grant 2000; Zeegers and Martin 2001). This has led to a heightened concern about providing support to university students in their learning. Hong Kong is in a similar situation as many other areas. Our tertiary education system has undergone a major expansion in...

    • 14 Field-based support and the learning of novice professionals: Implications from a teacher education programme
      (pp. 269-290)
      Cheng May Hung May and So Wing Mui Winnie

      Programmes for the preparation of professionals include field-based components, meaning that the learning of novices occurs both in the tertiary institution and in the field. Even if the curriculum for the programme based in the institution is well organized and delivered, learning in the field-based component is subject to circumstances that tertiary educators may not be able to control. It is important, therefore, for tertiary educators to understand the learning process and the role of the parties involved m the field-based component, so that it can be better organized.

      This chapter addresses concerns about learning among novices in the field....

    • 15 Developing online facilitators
      (pp. 291-312)
      Nick Noakes

      Educational policy initiatives in Hong Kong for the last few years have, as in all other developed economies, stressed the inclusion of information and communication technologies (ICT) into all levels of education: primary, secondary, and tertiary. However, these policy initiatives have mostly taken the form of hardware and software purchases and professional development for teachers in the use of this hardware and software. In Hong Kong, there has been little focus on the pedagogic implications of ICT in education and the different conceptions of teaching and learning that can be embodied, and the different implementation models that can be employed,...

  8. Epilogue: Scholarship of teaching and learning in progress
    (pp. 313-322)
    Ora Kwo

    This volume is the product of a rigorous selection process that involved blind multiple reviews of the full texts of 59 papers out of 74 conference presentations. The selected papers have raised important issues that fit coherently in a book on the theme of developing learning environments. Although many worthwhile papers were inevitably left out, the editorial work remained challenging in order to ensure that the selected papers communicated succinctly as discourse in scholarship of teaching and learning. The submissions varied in the extent to which curricula and pedagogy were presented and illustrated, ranging from detailed descriptions to bare outlines....

  9. Notes
    (pp. 323-324)
  10. References
    (pp. 325-352)
  11. About the editors and contributors
    (pp. 353-358)