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Outstanding Teaching Award 2019

Professor Pauline Chiu

Professor Pauline CHIU
Professor Department of Chemistry

Professor Pauline CHIU, Department of Chemistry, receives the University Outstanding Teaching Award 2019 for her dedication to teaching and the impact that she has made on her students’ learning.

"I teach organic chemistry: inherently it has a theoretical side dealing with molecules and chemical reactions that occur on a scale too small to be seen by the naked eye, and it has a practical aspect as well that requires skill and discipline to make those chemical changes happen in the laboratory. A chemist must be proficient in theory and in practice, and all accreditations of the subject require the effective teaching and learning of both.

I firmly believe that organic chemistry is comprehensible, logical, relevant, stimulating and creative. Yet to really appreciate the subject, students need to have a deep understanding of organic chemistry. Thus a primary goal in my teaching is to facilitate and effectively promote students’ in-depth understanding beyond just simply knowing. Understanding is critical for students to develop problemsolving skills for applications, and to be able to creatively and effectively communicate the subject.

In the educational environment in Hong Kong, many students have been schooled to perform for examinations. Students cope by accepting and committing everything to memory, or reproducing answers from drilling, and for some it is a habit that must be deconstructed. Toward accomplishing this, I have created learning activities that are student-centred, so students of varied competencies can learn adaptively and at their own paces. I have also used open-ended experiments in laboratory classes to teach students to formulate their own hypotheses, to think and come up with independent solutions. I use a variety of methods, models, animations, illustrations, videos, problems, and explanations to provide students with clarity.

I hope that the training in science I have provided would encourage students, beyond the chemistry classroom, to seek understanding, to have curiosity, and to practise openness, impartiality, and rigour. These traits – so important to the practice of good science – would produce a generation inculcated with a healthy skepticism, who will see through propaganda, biases and fads, who would recognise what they know and what they do not, and when more research is called for. Our society would benefit from graduates with these qualities."