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Prestigious UGC Teaching Award Conferred upon PolyU Educators

26 Sep 2022

Achievements Educational Development Centre

Dr Tulio Maximo (left), Assistant Professor from the School of Design of PolyU, received the 2022 UGC Teaching Award for Early Career Faculty Members from Mr Carlson Tong, Chairman of UGC.

The EAC team, led by Dr Julia Chen (3rd from left), Director of the Educational Development Centre of PolyU, received the 2022 UGC Teaching Award for Collaborative Teams from Mr Carlson Tong (3rd from right), Chairman of UGC.

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) announced today the latest achievement of PolyU academics in winning in two categories of the University Grants Committee (UGC) Teaching Awards for 2022. Dr Tulio MAXIMO, Assistant Professor from the School of Design, was selected as the awardee for the Early Career Faculty Members category; and the English Across the Curriculum (EAC) Team, led by PolyU scholar Dr Julia CHEN, Director of the Educational Development Centre, won the award in the Collaborative Teams category. Dr Maximo and the EAC Team received the coveted awards presented to them by Mr Carlson TONG, Chairman of UGC at a presentation ceremony held on 26 September 2022.

The UGC Teaching Award was introduced to honour academics of the UGC-funded universities for their outstanding teaching performance and achievements, as well as their leadership in and scholarly contributions to teaching and learning within and outside their campuses.

Professor Jin-Guang TENG, President of PolyU congratulated the awardees and said: “PolyU takes pride in teaching and research excellence. Both Dr Maximo and the EAC Team, including Dr Julia Chen, Director of the Educational Development Centre, and Dr Grace Lim, Teaching Fellow of the English Language Centre, are outstanding and enthusiastic educators who adopt student-centred and innovative pedagogies to create an active learning environment for students. We appreciate their dedication in maximising students’ learning experiences and outcomes, and congratulate them on their extraordinary efforts and achievements.”

An early career academic adopting empathy to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in education and beyond

The Early Career Faculty Member award acknowledges those with exceptional achievements in the nascent stages of their academic career. Dr Maximo, is inspired by his learning experience of being diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as a child to adopt empathy as his core teaching strategy. He strives to foster a people-centred learning environment in which students feel comfortable and supported to develop, practise and demonstrate their design and thinking abilities. With a passion to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the community, he created the “Design Meets Disabilities” subject, which focuses on integrating more inclusive design concepts into the design programme curriculum, and effectively applying an empathic approach in guiding students to design more user-friendly products, especially for people with disabilities. He also actively liaises with non-government bodies to engage students in community projects so that they gain first-hand experience with community users and can apply an empathetic approach to meeting their needs.

Dr Maximo said: “As a teacher, I believe empathy is key to forging the creative leaders of tomorrow and instilling the goal of a more equal and diverse society. I use empathy as a core teaching strategy to bring course content closer to people’s lives so that students can relate theories learnt in class to the lives of those in their surroundings. To improve my teaching, I also use empathy to stand in my students’ shoes.”

Timely and tailored English literacy support through innovative pedagogies and technologies

Spearheaded by PolyU, the winner of the UGC Collaborative Team Teaching Award 2021-22 is the English Across the Curriculum (EAC) team that includes experienced educators from City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The Team’s EAC initiatives complement standalone English courses and have two main features: offering students from across different disciplines timely, tailor-made and targeted English learning materials; and creating synergy and opportunities for collaborations between English language and discipline subject teachers. To date, the EAC Team’s work has impacted over 30 departments, 60 courses, 100 teachers and 10,000 students.

One of the Team’s student-centred innovations is an interactive mobile app called Capstone Ninja. The first-of-its-kind, Capstone Ninja incorporates English language learning modules and bite-sized quizzes/exercises, and enables undergraduate students to access discipline-specific, customised learning materials in real-time while they complete their capstone/final-year projects. The app has communication tools such as a text-chat function to connect teachers and students in the learning process and a scheduler to help students manage their writing process. With the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting traditional educational pathways, Capstone Ninja offers a mobile-based solution, which has proven to be a timely innovation that empowers both student and teacher alike.

The EAC project leader Dr Chen said, “Our team is resolved to create affordances that offer timely solutions to support student learning. We share a deep conviction that language is best learnt when students see the relevance and actively look for multiple channels to increase their exposure to the linguistic skills they need. We thank all the English teachers, discipline academics, technical and supporting staff, and student collaborators who have worked with us on English Across the Curriculum. The UGC Teaching Award belongs to them as well.”

The UGC Collaborative Team Teaching Award is given in recognition of outstanding inter-disciplinary pedagogical work. The sterling achievements of the inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional EAC team have been lauded not just among UGC-funded institutions but more broadly in the tertiary sector in Hong Kong and internationally.



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