Outstanding Teaching Award 2017
Dr Gavin Porter
Faculty of Science
Lately, I have moved away from the traditional, uni-directional, teacher-to-student flow of information in lectures. I place a premium on getting information out of my students’ heads rather than just putting it in. Certainly, I have great content to share from the world of physiology, pharmacology, biochemistry, and neuroscience, with many examples to help the material inhabit the students’ daily lives. But what is invigorating for me as a teacher is to see the information applied by the students as they make their own reasoned predictions.
In order to help my teaching to grow, I’m an avid consumer of education-related seminars at HKU, and of the teaching and learning academic literature. I have applied retrieval practice, frequent low stakes testing, and audience response systems in distinctive ways in my classes. I enjoy course design, the scholarship of teaching and learning, learning-related data analysis, writing, and faculty-to-faculty pedagogy outreach just as much as the in-person classroom experience.
I’ve been fortunate to end up in HKU’s Common Core Curriculum. It has been a great fit for my ability in finding depth, breadth, and accessibility in scientific content, and receptive to my pitching of unique and multidisciplinary course ideas. I have been able to deliver material in a way that fulfills both majors with a lot of incoming biology background, and non-majors with no prior background. This is a delicate balance, but it has been borne out in my classes that students of all backgrounds can indeed grasp relatively complex biology, if encouraged to adopt a logical approach.
Having the opportunity to tackle both the lectures and tutorials ensures a great alignment of content and increased communication with students, which then carries over into large lectures with a sense of familiarity, and more important, accountability on the students’ behalf.
I benefitted greatly from the wonderful teachers that I have had in my past, for content, process, application, and inspiration. Elements of each of them continue to live on in my classroom approaches today. A wide group of collaborators from all across HKU make my job stimulating and fulfilling.