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Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn
New Center to Drive Engineering Education Innovation

The first of its kind in Hong Kong, School of Engineering’s new Center for Engineering Education Innovation (E2I; pronounced as E squared I) sets to offer learning and development support to students and faculty by drawing on the latest findings in engineering education research.

As a leading engineering school in the world, the School of Engineering is building on its current strengths to make further advances in engineering education. Recent research has emphasized the importance of engineering learning in a rapidly changing world. Important questions related to learning have emerged: How do engineering students learn? What attributes does an engineering school want its graduates to have? How does the school help the students to acquire those attributes? Adopting a scholarship-driven approach, E2I seeks to bring the latest research findings to the School’s educational practice - what it does is informed by research scholarship and it will contribute to that scholarship.

E2I was established in Fall 2010 under the leadership of its Founding Director Prof Edmond Ko. The center has its initial focus on "helping people in transition". People are “in transition” every time their environment is changed. Students undergo transition when they leave from their secondary schools to become university students – a transition that is known to be very difficult and at times stressful. The same holds for new faculty members who changed from being postgraduate students or post-doctoral researchers to faculty. The center is therefore targeting its support to first-year students and early career faculty members.

Empowering Students to Teach

To help the first-year students, E2I has introduced a peer mentoring program to provide support for incoming students admitted under the School-based Admission Scheme. This type of support is especially important in 2012 when all students in the first four-year cohort will be admitted this way.

Twenty Year 2 students, who were SBA students in the previous year, have been recruited and trained as peer mentors to support the 124 students. While traditional student development programs focus on creating experiences for the students, E2I’s program asks the students to come up with experiences that will be meaningful for their peers’ learning. Through this interlinked teaching and learning process, not only the mentees, but also the mentors, benefit a lot.

Peer mentor Chris Mak (Year 2, Civil and Environmental Engineering) said that he hoped to use his experience in the first semester’s transition period to help the new students. "This is not just about how to select their majors, but to help them integrate into the university life and enjoy the overall experience." Another peer mentor, Clair Mak (Year 2, Industrial Engineering and Logistics Management) said, "With the help of the program, it is encouraging to see that most mentees are able to identify their majors with confidence."

As a people-oriented, humanistic and developmental unit, E2I promotes student learning and development by conveying to students the excitement of engineering practice and fostering good values among them. With the learning culture E2I is building, it is hoped that students will enjoy learning on their own and with their peers, thereby becoming effective lifelong learners.

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