Team: Elizabeth Ho, Karen Lee Ka Lam, Kourtney Woo Lok Shan
Supporters: Sabrina Kirby, Beth Marquis
To enhance teaching and learning at Lingnan University (Hong Kong’s only liberal arts university), I implemented faculty-student partnerships in the form of pedagogical “student consultants.” Lingnan’s Student Consultant Program was piloted in partnership with faculty and students from the Student Consultant Program at Ursinus College in 2014. Hong Kong’s tertiary education has recently completed the transition from a three to a four-year curriculum including a complete overhaul of the secondary education curriculum and programming. Within the context of a new student demographic, internationalized faculty and students, the implementation of a core curriculum and outcomes based forms of assessment, I felt that the Student Consultant Program would be one effective way of increasing student voice and emphasizing student-faculty partnership as Hong Kong and Lingnan adapt to, assess and respond to such dramatic changes.
Through regular classroom observations, consultation, dialogue, discussion, and critical reflection, Student Consultants provide faculty across disciplines with feedback from the perspective of trained students who are not enrolled in their courses. Partnerships allow faculty insight into how their teaching practices and assignments are perceived and received by their students. Through partnership, a new forum is created where students and teachers can collaborate on how they both function as teachers and learners. This challenges faculty to take risks in their pedagogy and reassess the traditional roles of student and teacher. At the same time, this program offers students opportunities to participate in and take ownership of their education. This program emphasizes interactions between students and teachers in the exploration, discussion and solving of pedagogical issues and, as a result, better teachers and better students will emerge. As it is absolutely necessary to provide a safe and supportive space for faculty and students to engage in such important work, this program is not formally evaluative and is strictly confidential.
Project objectives: 1. To create faculty-student partnerships to analyze, observe, affirm, revise and reflect on classroom practices and experiences. 2. To enhance teaching excellence through dialogue and collaboration between faculty and students. 3. Develop and empower students’ engagement with and willingness to transform their own learning. 4. To support faculty in their exploration and/or development of new, creative or innovative learning and teaching practices and materials. Based on the above, we believe that Lingnan’s Student Consultant Program (modeled after Ursinus College’s, which is in turn modeled on Bryn Mawr’s SaLT program) would be a good fit for the theme, “Students as Partners in Learning and Teaching”.
Our program is still in its infancy and sporadically funded so we are still struggling with building a sustainable program, recruiting new Consultants and promoting the program’s value and goals to faculty and senior management. We hope to bring our international experience to the MIIETL Summer Institute, specifically, our experience of the liberal arts in a global context and teaching and learning in a postcolonial context. Our Student Consultants are engaged in adapting Western models of student-faculty partnership to a Hong Kong learning environment and are working through cultural and linguistic challenges. In our weekly seminars, we are learning together to “translate” and adapt what can be considered Western pedagogies and assumptions to hybrid classrooms. They would like to share and learn more about effective communication and classroom strategies from their MIIETL peers. As the faculty coordinator, I too would like to learn more about my role as a “bridge” between faculty and students partners and how to better facilitate this process in a research-oriented environment. Finally, we have found that the Student Consultant Program emphasizes “student voice” and rethinks traditional structures of authority at a politically sensitive time in Hong Kong; we are interested in exploring this dynamic further at the Summer Institute.