HKBU Enews Eyes on HKBU
Nov 2011 | Issue 14

Professor Raymond Wong: Equal emphasis on teaching and research

Recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Performance in Teaching 2007 and the President’s Award for Outstanding Performance in Scholarly Work 2011

As a teacher, I believe that I have a responsibility not only to disseminate knowledge to students and evaluate their mastery of the information, but also to inspire them to actively pursue knowledge, to become independent thinkers, to be able to successfully work as a team and to become responsible citizens,” says Professor Raymond Wong, Chair Professor in Chemistry at HKBU.

Balancing act
Professor Wong was one of the six finalists chosen from 16 candidates for the inaugural University Grants Committee Teaching Award 2011. A highly prolific researcher and reputed scholar in the field of inorganic and organometallic chemistry, Professor Wong places equal emphasis on teaching and research. “In addition to being dedicated to research, as faculty members, we should love to teach as well,” he says.

Professor Wong emphasises that the role of an academic encompasses teaching, research and service and that balancing all three is just a matter of time management. He believes that excellent teaching and quality research are not in conflict but complement each other and that it is indeed important to strengthen the teaching-research nexus. “I incorporate my research results into my teaching. Not only do the students welcome this but it also helps me teach well,” he says, adding that he has started to devote more time to the University and community service in recent years.

Learner-centred approaches
"My teaching philosophy is CHEM-IS-TRY. Giving students opportunities for trial-and-error is important,” Professor Wong says. In order to inspire students and engage them in learning, he has adopted a set of learner-centred approaches.

He uses multimedia teaching materials and e-Learning platforms such as videos, Youtube and Facebook to arouse the interest of his Generation Y students. His lively class demonstrations have also gone down well with students. “I believe that relating the subject matter to students’ interest will lead to stronger classroom interaction and engagement in learning. I also arrange learner-centred enhancement classes which are conducted in small groups. These help stimulate students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills,” Professor Wong says. “I incorporate various assessment methods to evaluate the performance of my students, such as poster presentations, newspaper article clippings and small-group presentations.”

Activities outside the classroom are indispensable to Whole Person Education. “I have devoted much time to the Summer Internship Programme of our department, which serves to provide internship-training opportunities to our undergraduate students through industrial exposure and actual hands-on work experience in a laboratory setting, and to enhance their employability in their future careers,” he adds.

Constant self-reflection
"To keep enhancing the quality of my teaching, apart from the normal course evaluation practices, I also review my own practices based on feedback from students by using, for example, the Student Evaluation of Education Quality (SEEQ), Formative Review Exercise (FRE) and one-minute test etc. This helps me better assess how effectively students are learning. The information collected is also useful for future planning,” Professor Wong says.

Professor Wong and his colleagues try to enhance their courses with up-to-date information in each scientific field and updated pedagogies. They have also developed cross-disciplinary courses such as Environmental Chemistry and Advanced Materials. “For some laboratory courses, we organise field trips and incorporate the microscale chemistry concept in addition to the regular lectures.”

Close rapport with students
"Good teacher-student interaction also facilitates learning,” Professor Wong says. He dedicates a great deal of time to supervising his undergraduate and postgraduate students on their research. Even when he is away attending academic conferences, he keeps in close contact with them watching over their progress.

He makes a special effort to help outstanding students broaden their horizons and bolster their language abilities. "Apart from the University’s overseas attachment programme, I also help some of my best students to go overseas by arranging for them to work with scholars in world-class universities such as California Institute of Technology, The Ohio State University and University of California, Santa Barbara in the US and University of Bristol in the UK.”

Professor Wong also takes time out to participate in student activities, which helps him build a rapport with the students. “Both the formal classes and informal interactions help me better understand the different needs and abilities of my students,” he says. Professor Wong has become a good friend in addition to being a respected teacher and mentor to his students.

Beyond HKBU
"Research informs teaching and a high quality of teaching can only be sustained by those who are actively engaged in research. I believe that teaching should be approached with the same rigour as scientific research and therefore, I also publish in journals on chemical education,” Professor Wong reiterates. He believes patience, perseverance and confidence are the keys to success in conducting research, adding that the credit for his success in the classroom as well as his outstanding research results should also go to his students.

"My commitment to enhancing the quality of teaching also goes beyond HKBU and has gained much recognition from society,” he says. He participates in a number of training programmes and science activities for students from secondary schools and tertiary institutions, as well as the general public. “After all, I hope to contribute further to the development of effective teaching practice and promote quality education,” Professor Wong says.