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HK$3.71M granted for five research projects

25 Mar 2022


The Department has been awarded HK$3.71M for five research projects as part of the 2021/22 General Research Fund (GRF) by the Research Grants Council (RGC). This is the Department’s best GRF performance, and it serves as recognition of our research excellence! Congratulations to the below academic staff for their research projects:

Principal Investigator
Project Title
Duration
 
Funding Awarded
Professor Hu Guangwei Improving teacher talk in classroom instruction: A mixed-methods study of the impact of professional development in questioning 36 months HK$1,298,330
Dr Phoebe Lin The learnability of 41,973 English formulaic expressions: A predictive model and a normative database 36 months HK$966,274 
Dr Margo Turnbull “Normally you sit beside the bed and hold someone's hand”: COVID-19 and end-of-life care practices in Hong Kong and Australia 24 months HK$535,62
Professor Hans Ladegaard
The experience of trauma in domestic migrant workers’ storytelling: Sociolinguistic and psychological perspectives 24 months HK$515,295
Dr William Feng The changing representation of China in Hong Kong media from 1997 to 2020: A diachronic corpus analysis 24 months HK$395,505

 

1. Improving teacher talk in classroom instruction: A mixed-methods study of the impact of professional development in questioning

Principal Investigator: Professor Hu Guangwei


This project aims to provide an updated view of teacher-student interactions in Hong Kong secondary classrooms, determine the effectiveness of a professional development program designed to train teachers in productive questioning, assess its effect on students’ responses, and identify factors that may influence the effects of such professional training. The project is expected to make theoretical contributions by providing insights into the dynamics of classroom discourse, assessing the amenability of teacher questioning to professional development, understanding the impact of teacher training on students’ interactional engagement, and opening new avenues of professional development for promoting student learning. Methodologically, the project will extend the conventional case-study approach to research on teacher talk by adopting a mixed-methods experimental design that synergizes qualitative and quantitative data/analysis in a coherent and rigorous manner. Practically, it is positioned to develop an in-depth understanding of Hong Kong secondary teachers’ repertoire of questioning skills and related professional development needs, yield important pedagogical implications for effective pre-/in-service training programs focusing on classroom interactions, and provide research evidence for policymakers to revise existing policies or develop new initiatives that support teachers’ professional development.

 

2. The learnability of 41,973 English formulaic expressions: A predictive model and a normative database

Principal Investigator: Dr Phoebe Lin

Videos are one of the most popular methods for learning English independently. Previously, Dr Lin developed IdiomsTube, the world’s first app for guiding the independent learning of formulaic expressions (FEs) from YouTube videos. So far, the IdiomsTube app has 8,000+ users worldwide. In this project, Dr Lin will use innovative means of data collection, including crowdsourcing and lab-based experiments, combined with machine-learning algorithms to develop: 1) an unprecedented FE normative database; and 2) the first supervised machine-learning model of FE learnability. The findings will be incorporated into IdiomsTube’s next major update.

This project pioneers the use of machine-learning methods to solve a practical language-learning and research problem. It will open new avenues for intelligent and data-driven approaches to education and applied linguistics. Furthermore, it will establish the world’s first English FE normative database, providing norms based on which stimuli may be prepared for controlled experiments on FEs, what research-informed FE syllabi can be developed, and which FE competence assessments can be performed in educational and clinical contexts.

 

3. “Normally you sit beside the bed and hold someone's hand”: COVID-19 and end-of-life care practices in Hong Kong and Australia

Principal Investigator: Dr Margo Turnbull

Effective communication with people who are approaching the end of their life is fundamental to the provision of ethical and high quality medical and social care. Meaningful interaction between patients, families, friends, and care workers can also facilitate healthy grieving after bereavement. Infection control restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have severely limited how people have been able to communicate and interact with those approaching the end of life. This mixed methods research project extends a pilot study we conducted in 2020 to explore how these exceptional infection control regulations have prompted end-of-life care workers to modify and adapt their communication practices. The study will use social psychology theories to also examine how these regulations and the need to enforce them has affected the stress and resilience of end-of-life care workers. A significant amount of research has focused on the experiences of clinical staff during the current health crisis, but limited attention has been directed towards the broader range of workers involved in end-of-life care, such as those in social and religious services. This research will add insights into the experiences of these workers and their service users as well as provide information about the optimisation of end-of-life communication more broadly.

 

4. The experience of trauma in domestic migrant workers’ storytelling: Sociolinguistic and psychological perspectives

Principal Investigator: Professor Hans Ladegaard

Every year, thousands of domestic migrant workers (DMWs) return to Indonesia after completing one or more 2-year contracts in Hong Kong or other Asian or Middle Eastern destinations. Previous research has found that a large number of returnees have shown signs of being traumatised and depressed even years after their return, but these were in a context where no counselling was available. We know relatively little about what a trauma narrative looks like linguistically, and we know even less about how we identify trauma in storytelling. In health settings, trauma is typically identified through standardised questionnaires or interviews. An advantage of adopting the narrative/discourse analytic approach that is proposed in this project is that discourse may give access to traumatic experiences, which would not be discovered in a traditional interview/questionnaire. The aim of this project is to document the linguistic structures of trauma storytelling among Indonesian DMW returnees. The project will also explore how codeswitching and emotion are aligned in trauma storytelling, and it will identify which cultural factors (if any) are associated with the women’s experiences of trauma. Finally, the project seeks to enhance a social justice agenda for DMWs by making the women and migrant worker NGOs the real beneficiaries of the research.

 

5. The changing representation of China in Hong Kong media from 1997 to 2020: A diachronic corpus analysis

Principal Investigator: Dr William Feng

The past 23 years have witnessed not only the rapid integration of Hong Kong and mainland China, but also increasingly divergent attitudes toward mainland China among Hong Kong people. The complex and changing relations between mainland China and Hong Kong impact media discourse on the one hand and are reflected in and influenced by media discourse on the other. This proposed project aims to systematically investigate how the representation of mainland China has changed in the main Chinese language newspapers in Hong Kong from 1997 to 2020 (i.e., the 23-year period after the sovereignty transfer to China). The three most influential Chinese language newspapers are chosen for analysis – namely, Apple Daily, Ming Pao, and Oriental Daily News, which are anti-Beijing, liberal, and pro-Beijing in stance, respectively. Combining corpus analysis and (critical) discourse analysis, this project first investigates how the issues or topics reported vary across different time periods and across newspapers through keyword analysis. It then analyses how attitudes in mainland China-related reports have changed across time and newspapers through manual annotation and quantitative analysis of the types, sources, and targets of attitudes. By measuring the changing concerns and attitudes in the press, it can provide empirical underpinnings for discussions about the impact of socio-political factors on media practice. Our discussion about the different discursive strategies employed by different newspapers to respond to the contextual changes will be valuable for journalism educators and media practitioners.



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