Professor Liu Zhi-Qiang from the School of Creative Media at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) was presented with the University Grants Committee (UGC) Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of his outstanding teaching performance at a ceremony held on 6 September.
This is the second year the UGC has presented the Teaching Award, which was set up to honour teachers who have made a real and sustained impact in promoting teaching excellence among the higher institutions.
Professor Way Kuo, President of CityU, congratulated Professor Liu for winning this prestigious award. “CityU is committed to providing students with the best professional education and learning experience. It is with dedicated faculty like Professor Liu that we are able to achieve this goal,” Professor Kuo said.
“Professor Liu is a pioneer in motivating students to discover and innovate, two key elements at the heart of our newly launched Discovery-enriched Curriculum. His unique student-centred initiatives have successfully turned students into all-round professionals, and his teaching and learning approach has received wide appreciation from the industry, professional bodies and the community at large,” he added.
Professor Liu said he felt overwhelmed at receiving the award. “It is recognition more for my team that has been working so hard with so much dedication, perseverance, ingenuity and professionalism for so many years. It is recognition for CityU, a fine educational institution that has supported my endeavours over the years. And it is recognition for the School of Creative Media that has given me opportunities and support. A great educational institution is built on characteristics such as these that will last and ultimately benefit our students who are our future,” he said.
Professor Liu motivates student learning through his pioneering Special Interest Groups (SIGs) advocating playful learning for practice.
“My philosophy of teaching is to let students explore in what I call ‘learning-by-exploration’, and to provide guidance in their exploration. I believe this is precisely where education begins. In exploration, students go through the process of trial and error in a never-ending cycle of making mistakes, correcting them, practicing self-reflection and evaluation, and making progress,” Professor Liu said.
“I also believe that a teacher's responsibility is to help students go beyond the superficial acquisition and parroting of knowledge to gain a deeper insight into the structure of knowledge, and to develop a keen sense of discovery and innovation in preparation for a life-long passion for exploring and learning, and to become independent thinkers.”
To achieve these objectives, Professor Liu has developed three project-based initiatives including SIGs that run alongside the Bachelor of Science in Creative Media programme to help students put into practice the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom.
All students from all three year groups of the programme are invited to participate in the SIGs and are encouraged to work together. This ensures peer mentorship, peer feedback and deep collaboration among teams of students. There are opportunities for senior students to mentor junior students, to pass on the learning culture and traditions of the programme, and to inspire motivation and a passion for the subject. Through very close interaction with students, teachers have also improved their teaching because of their intimate knowledge about the students’ needs.
The results have been encouraging. “Students participating in SIGs have become remarkably motivated in all their academic and social activities. The SIGs have given our students excellent outside-classroom, hands-on learning opportunities in which they have become active learners,” Professor Liu said.
Professor Liu has worked in both tertiary education institutions and industry for 34 years in Hong Kong and around the world. Since joining the School of Creative Media, he has initiated a number of research and development projects on media/graphics systems that offer media students, content creators and other kinds of users new, intelligent and active platforms.
He was elected as an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer by the IEEE Society of Systems, Man and Cybernetics (IEEE SMC). In 2011-2012 he was the recipient of the City University of Hong Kong Teaching Excellence Award.