In Focus - Issue 35 (Spring 2023)

appy classes make happy students. As a firm believer in engaging, motivating education, and in making the acquisition of knowledge fun, I always do my best to create a positive teaching environment where students feel cared about and supported. An essential component is to maximize the learning potential of each student in my classes. The positive teacher-student relationship also motivates students to participate and engage in all aspects of their learning, and thus stimulates their curiosity and interest in exploring more about computer science, my main field. “You may be shy at the beginning, but we will all become friends by the end of the semester,” I always say to my students when we first meet. An inspiring learning environment is especially important for classes with difficult theoretical subjects. My award-winning common core course on “Discrete Mathematical Tools for Computer Science” (COMP ) introduces mathematical theories that some students may consider difficult. To stop them losing interest before they get to the “fun” part, where they apply their new knowledge to real-world computer applications, I employ gamification and content such as brain teasers to engage students in critical thinking, build collaborative learning, and sustain enthusiasm. In COMP , the gamification system not only generates more sample questions, but also allows course participants to design and share their own questions. Designing questions requires students to have a good understanding of the materials covered in class and helps them gain a deeper understanding of the topics covered. “The wide adoption of blended learning and experiential learning at HKUST School of Engineering ultimately equips and inspires students to embrace boundless possibilities in their future lives” Technology o ers other pathways to a more engaged environment for learners. Take the cloud-based instant messaging channel I utilize in my classes. This enables students to raise questions on course topics and beyond and take part in discussions among themselves as well as with teaching assistants and myself. Such interaction leads to valuable peer learning and mutual support, along with great camaraderie. Meanwhile, solving real-world problems is one of the most exciting aspects of a career as an engineer. The wide adoption of blended learning and experiential learning at HKUST School of Engineering creates a host of opportunities for students to develop knowledge and skills from direct experience and, ultimately, equip and inspire them to embrace boundless possibilities in their future lives. Indeed, the University is a regional leader in implementing new pedagogies – blended learning, experiential learning, massive open online courses (MOOCs) – to enhance the student learning experience. With HKUST’s support, I have developed a series of blended learning and MOOCs to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and have accumulated over , learners around the world. Such pedagogies have proved especially e ective during the COVID- pandemic. They also have a significant role to play in opening up motivational, quality education to a wider audience locally, nationally, and globally. Fun pathways to full-potential engineers Prof. Kenneth LEUNG is Assistant Professor of Engineering Education in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. He was the project leader for the Teaching Development Grant projects “Flipping the Classroom with iPad” and “Social Gaming Platform for COMP 2711”. He received the HKUST Common Core Teaching Excellence Award in 2021 and an Honorary Mention in 2019. century engineers st H By Prof. Kenneth Leung Faculty Column 17 IN FOCUS