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Jan 1999 Vol. 3   No. 1

........   FROM THE FACULTIES  ........
Teaching & Learning Hightlights

Display of six monuments created by Architecture students.

Faculty of Architecture, Building & Real Estate

In(ter)ventions: Monument to the Machine

To investigate the fundamental aspects of making, Level One students in the School of Architecture worked on Constructions, a design assignment. Over 5 weeks during last semester, eighteen students from Studio B curated a joint exhibition called In(ter)ventions: Monument to the Machine in which they designed and erected monuments to six machines. Each team of three re-invented their chosen machines through their own interpretations, being challenged in the process, to rework familiar expectations, re-think the machine’s traditional typology and develop a better understanding of the concept of machines. The students were asked to explore form and meaning expressed through structures, constructions and materials. The models created were one-to-one in scale; many were conceived with moving parts illustrating a central idea. Emphasis was placed on rigorously manifesting meaningful interpretations through conceptual thought and through the physically precise art of fine crafting, detailing and making.

Faculty of Architecture, Building & Real Estate

Brainstorming

During the most recent in-house seminar organised by the Teaching Development Committee of the School of Building & Real Estate, Dr Grace Wong and Dr Alice Christudason shared some ideas gleaned from the “Thinking Schools, Thinking Classrooms, Thinking Students Seminar” held by the ‘First Singapore Summer Institute’. They dealt with the ‘Brainstorming Method’ which can be used to generate options when discussing a certain topic. This involves coming up with as many ideas as possible without censure and seeking combinations of ideas to find solutions. A 25-minute workshop followed, during which staff were divided up into several sub-groups and asked to use the ‘Brainstorming’ to generate ideas on “How we can be more creative in our teaching”. Staff members then had a lively discussion over the many valuable suggestions made on how to be more creative in their teaching.

Faculty of Dentistry

Video Demonstrations: Better than Live?

At the Dental Faculty, live demonstrations have traditionally been used to teach technical and clinical procedures to students in small groups. Over the past decade, such teaching sessions in the subject of Removable Prosthodontics (dentures) have been gradually replaced by well-made instructional videos. Making a good video clip involves many man-hours of scripting, filming, editing and voicing. However, a well-made instructional video with good picture and voice quality has many advantages over a live demonstration. Each student is able to clearly witness the same procedure presented in a consistent fashion and content does not vary from demonstrator to demonstrator. Key points are incorporated as graphics to help learners focus on important issues. The video can also be replayed to refresh one’s memory and even digitised for viewing on a CD-ROM (e.g. look into our Video-on-Demand series on Clinical Procedures for Removable Partial Dentures). With digital editing, the video can easily be updated without remaking the whole film and used as part of a multimedia presentation.

Faculty of Engineering

Jellyfish & Virtual Lab

The Department of Mechanical & Production Engineering (MPE) is using JellyFish, a tutoring and assessment system developed at the University of Western Australia (UWA). Set in a self-learning tutorial environment, JellyFish allows staff to set a sequence of problems, deadlines and marking strategies. To access the tutorial, students log in via a Web browser. At any time, teaching staff can monitor the progress of individual students or whole classes. As JellyFish helped to reduce class failure rate considerably at UWA, MPE has adopted two courses developed at UWA, i.e. first year Dynamics and Calculus. Presently, two other MPE modules (and one from Electrical Engineering) are under preparation using the JellyFish tutoring system as the platform. MPE will also be employing Virtual Lab to simulate mechanical engineering experiments using JAVA 3D graphics. Not a replacement for the actual laboratory, Virtual Lab prepares the students for the real session and familiarises them with the actual set-up and environment through the incorporation of advanced animation and simulations. It enhances the understanding of physical concepts being taught, allows students to experiment with parameters physically not possible in a real laboratory environment, and highlights safety precautions. In the post-lab sessions, software tools help students to process the experimental data and visualise the results using 3D graphics. Furthermore, diagnostic tools provided explain the discrepancies between the experimental and expected results.

Faculty of Business Administration

Seminar on University Teaching

More than 30 professors in the faculty attended a lively seminar on problems and issues in university teaching. The seminar, held on 27 October 1998, was facilitated by Dr William Koh and Dr Audrey Chia, both of whom received 1998’s Faculty and University teaching awards. Issues discussed included the use of the case method, managing large lecture groups, structuring small classes to promote participation, and provoking critical and creative thought. This seminar will be the first of a series. The next seminar will address graduate and executive education.

School of Computing

Web-based Electronic Conferencing

IC52A8, Advanced Human-Computer Interaction, is a graduate level course introduced during the 1998/99 academic year. The course instructor, Dr Chee Yam San, introduced the use of Web-based electronic conferencing to encourage students to participate in critical discussion and reflection on issues related to humans and the design and use of computing technologies. Discussion questions were posted to the conference each week to explore more deeply issues related to the week’s lecture topic. Students were required to read the prescribed materials and participate in the conference before attending the week’s lecture so that they attended the lecture with a reasonable sense of the lecture content. Hence, the lecture material was presented more concisely, and the second lecture hour was used to review and extend the discussion and to bring it to closure. In general, students found this format engaging and useful. They were also motivated to work hard as the quality of their discussions formed part of the course’s continual assessment.

School of Computing

Web-based Electronic Conferencing


Electronic conferencing in action

IC52A8, Advanced Human-Computer Interaction, is a graduate level course introduced during the 1998/99 academic year. The course instructor, Dr Chee Yam San, introduced the use of Web-based electronic conferencing to encourage students to participate in critical discussion and reflection on issues related to humans and the design and use of computing technologies. Discussion questions were posted to the conference each week to explore more deeply issues related to the week’s lecture topic. Students were required to read the prescribed materials and participate in the conference before attending the week’s lecture so that they attended the lecture with a reasonable sense of the lecture content. Hence, the lecture material was presented more concisely, and the second lecture hour was used to review and extend the discussion and to bring it to closure. In general, students found this format engaging and useful. They were also motivated to work hard as the quality of their discussions formed part of the course’s continual assessment.

Faculty of Science

Learning through Teaching in SPS


Soh Chin Ann, an SPS student, points out the intricacies of invariant lines.

Since its inception in 1996, the Special Programme in Science (SPS) has maintained that every participant is responsible for his or her own education. Correspondingly, many activities and projects in SPS are initiated and conducted by the students. Often they take on the role of facilitator or instructor for the activity; in the process they learn how to organise such events and to judge the quality of their peers’ work in an erudite fashion. Two such activities in SPS during last semester were the literature presentation and the short essay writing. For the presentations, students gave talks based on materials garnered from the articles they selected from science journals. In addition to questions on technical details, their fellow students commented on the style and effectiveness of the presentations and suggested areas for improvement. In the short essay assignment, students wrote a four-page essay on “information technology”. They submitted their work to two of their peers who each critically reviewed the essay and supplied editorial comments. A revised version of the essay was then turned in for grading. By playing the role of critics, the students realised what it takes to put up an excellent piece of work.

Faculty of Medicine

Human Patient Simulator


Simulator: mannequin & computerised monitoring equipment

The human patient simulator represents the latest in medical training technology. It comprises of a mannequin and a computer that automatically determines the patient’s response to user actions, and both procedural and pharmacological interventions. Patient profiles can thus be created, and various medical scenarios superimposed on them, allowing medical and paramedical personnel to practise managing patients. As the variables of patient profiles, medical conditions, and emergency situations can be combined in many different permutations, simulated scenarios for teaching medical students, specialist doctors and nurses can be easily and realistically done. Furthermore, the risk to actual patients is avoided. Singapore is the third country in Asia to acquire such a simulator and it is run by staff from the Department of Anaesthesia, National University Hospital.

 

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