In Focus - Issue 29 (Spring 2018)

n the st century, higher education must continuously adapt to the needs of an ever-changing world. For most of my -year teaching career, course syllabi and content have dominated how knowledge is taught. In recent years, though, pedagogical research has led to a paradigm shi from teacher-centered teaching to learner-centered learning, placing a greater emphasis on active and experiential learning – and a clear departure from the traditional, passive, lecture-style approach. HKUST has been at the forefront of revolutionizing the pedagogy of higher education in Hong Kong. Lectures have o en been criticized for being ine ective. Some studies have shown that the long-term retention rate of learners from this style of teaching is normally less than %. While the rate can be improved with the help of audio-visual aids or demonstrations, it appears only to increase to above % if students are actively involved in the learning process. This is why HKUST is devoting resources to developing active learning pedagogies. In the School of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Education Innovation (E I), we are developing experiential learning strategies to promote active engagement and participation in a classroom setting and to connect the process of engineering design with real-world problems. A report* published by the US National Academy of Engineering also recommends that design, build, and test processes should be introduced at the earliest stage of an engineering curriculum rather than waiting until a later stage of a student’s four-year undergraduate program. “We are developing experiential learning strategies... to connect the process of engineering design with real-world problems” In Fall , the First Year Cornerstone Engineering Design Project Course was o ered as a regular course for the rst time. This was created together with Prof Ben Y B Chan, Associate Director of E I, fully incorporates active and experiential learning, and was developed speci cally with HKUST engineering freshmen in mind. It seeks to expose such students to knowledge and skills from di erent engineering disciplines before deciding on their majors. Faculty from di erent departments teach discipline-speci c knowledge through online delivery to allow rst-year students from a variety of backgrounds to learn at their own pace. Students have opportunities to work collaboratively on a design project by applying the knowledge they have acquired and to gain hands-on experience of di erent emerging technologies, including drones, D printing, Arduino programming, and mobile app development. E I’s intention in adopting this innovative approach is to enable students to acquire a more versatile technical skill set while developing the essential so skills to be successful in their future careers. Ultimately, the course is designed to stimulate students’ interest in engineering and to lay the foundation for solving the engineering grand challenges of the st century. * “Educating the Engineer of 2020 – Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century”, 23 IN FOCUS Activating an education that moves with the times Prof Ting Chuen Pong, Computer Science and Engineering, is Director of the School of Engineering’s Center for Engineering Education Innovation and Senior Advisor to HKUST’s Executive Vice-President and Provost (Teaching Innovation and E-learning). century engineers st I Faculty Column By Prof Ting Chuen Pong