Professor Thomas Hu
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Course Taught: CIVL 1160 Civil Engineering and Modern Society


Since undertaking CIVL 1160 “Civil Engineering and Modern Society” in early 2016, Prof Thomas Hu has innovatively evolved this Common Core course into one of the most practical and popular at HKUST. He has done so by delivering academic value as well as hands-on understanding of key issues in Hong Kong; and by firing up enthusiasm among learners from diverse fields – including non-technical students – for how civil engineering can help.

An important element of Thomas’s pedagogical philosophy is to extend the scope of his course design beyond regular civil engineering topics. Adopting a holistic and multidisciplinary approach, he builds bridges to timely new knowledge related to urban planning and development, legal and policy issues, and financial analysis, among others. In addition, engineering concepts are made easier to fathom through videos, animations, and most recently, novel software that he develops himself.

Armed with such insights, students are encouraged to apply them to pressing Hong Kong challenges, including housing supply, building maintenance, and surging real estate prices. Through group projects tackling real-world cases, they gain constructive experience, provide useful input to the community, and realize the links between university learning and pragmatic solutions to improve people’s lives. Thomas also draws attention to the importance of a rational yet creative mindset, in-depth capabilities, and professional conduct.

Recognized as a visionary educator by colleagues and students alike, Thomas is noted for his drive and enthusiasm in class, sense of humor, and patience in answering questions. He actively seeks opportunities to enable individuals to express their views. And even with a class enrollment of close to 200, he checks each student’s background to design and assign suitable projects to keep them motivated.

In both his outlook and delivery, Thomas serves as an outstanding example of how to work toward and attain Common Core aspirations: to broaden students’ horizons, to a passion for learning and to empower their development as compassionate, responsible and ethical citizens. Thus, the Selection Committee has great pleasure in recommending Prof Thomas Hu for the 2018 Common Core Teaching Excellence Award.

Professor Agnes Ku
Division of Social Science
Course Taught: SOSC 3130 Hong Kong Culture


SOSC 3130 is designed to make all who join this course think for themselves about Hong Kong norms and behaviors. Energized by her expertise in sociology and cultural analysis, Prof Agnes Ku brilliantly blends sociological theories with locally relevant issues to empower students to critically examine, question, and reflect on Hong Kong values – and their own.

Through progressive and participatory learning involving a rich array of hotly debated Hong Kong concerns – such as right of abode, conservation, and Occupy Central – Agnes gradually introduces students to core cultural concepts in ways that resonate with the real world. She challenges members of the class to unpack taken-for-granted assumptions. She widens appreciation of diverse viewpoints.

Her secret? Thoughtfully planned course content integrating lectures, writing assignments, audio-visual aids, field visits, and web-based communication; a highly interactive approach to teaching; and effective forms of assessment. Enquiry-driven classes create an atmosphere conducive to learning, with plenty of opportunities for questions, discussions, and constructive feedback. Lively seminars and student-led presentations further motivate peer-to-peer learning as well as independent research.

Indeed, thinking outside the box and the awakening of lasting logical and critical thinking skills are among the many constructive outcomes of Agnes’ teaching, according to her students. Inspired by the course, participants have gone on to take part in community service, and to develop a greater sense of social belonging, leading to postgraduate studies in public policy.

With her passion for optimizing the potential of education to nurture responsible, informed, contributive citizens, and commitment to raising students’ awareness and interest in Hong Kong culture, Agnes has shown all the qualities of a compelling and motivational Common Core teacher fully deserving of her Honorary Mention.

Professor Carmen Ng
Department of Management
Course Taught: MGMT 1130 Traps and Pitfalls in Judgment and Decision Making


Every one of us make decisions multiple times a day. Yet how we arrive at them is not so frequently understood. In MGMT 1130 “Traps and Pitfalls in Judgment and Decision Making”, Prof Carmen Ng sets out to change this. Combining the latest research findings with resourceful experiential learning, she ably conveys fresh insights on decision making and biases to students from diverse disciplines.

Carmen’s unconventional business classes may start with a game that paves the way for exploring a specific topic or theory. She also designs in-class experiments derived from academic research to provide students with first-hand experience of bias, despite their efforts to make a rational judgment. Both activities ensure participation and interest, generating keener, stronger motivation to find out more.

Course assessment is equally innovative. Instead of a written final exam, Carmen employs an “Experimental Behavioral Forecast”, enabling students to demonstrate their comprehension of course content through numerical predictions and testing know-how without the need for essays. Meanwhile, a group project comprehensively ascertains learning, encompassing theoretical analysis, research on a self-chosen social issue, and use of a decision bias in designing a solution. Students have written appreciatively of how Carmen delivers support in carrying out this task, engaging in consultation and guidance despite the heavy workload involved in looking after 30-plus groups.

By adopting these approaches, Carmen helps learners apply research-based judgment and develop decision making strategies that foster personal fulfilment and collective well-being in the wider community. Such efforts have brought further praise from participants, who laud the course as “a chance to learn something practical [in] an engaging environment” and for “making good connections between theories and applications [in] the real world”.

Given such inspirational teaching, success in achieving active learning, and advancement of capabilities to create a better world, Carmen has clearly shown why she merits her Honorary Mention for excellence as a Common Core educator.

Common Core Teaching Excellence Award Recipients

2018 Award Recipients

 
The Common Core Teaching Excellence Award

Professor Thomas Hu
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Course Taught: CIVL 1160 Civil Engineering and Modern Society


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The Honorary Mention

Professor Agnes Ku
Division of Social Science
Course Taught: SOSC 3130 Hong Kong Culture


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The Honorary Mention

Professor Carmen Ng
Department of Management
Course Taught: MGMT 1130 Traps and Pitfalls in Judgment and Decision Making


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Award Recipients of the Common Core Teaching Excellence Award

2017 | 2016 |

Award Recipients of the Common Core Course Excellence Award

2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012


2018 Award Presentation Ceremony
More About the Award