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Jul 2003 Vol. 7   No. 2  

........   FROM THE FACULTIES  ........
TEACHING & LEARNING Highlights

Faculty of Law
An Innovative Service-learning Project—
‘Sex, Rights & Videotape’

Physical laboratories sessions are indispensable in engineering education. After every laboratory session, students are expected to prepare written or printed reports. Handling paper reports is troublesome and problematic: reports can be unaccounted for and notifying students (especially non-campus bound students) to collect graded reports can be difficult.


An electronic laboratory report handling system, done as an online/distance education research group project, is expected to overcome these impediments. Students and instructors can download the laboratory manual from the web-based server before the laboratory session. Each student then prepares an electronic report according to instructions and uploads it to the web-based server for the instructor to download and grade electronically after the laboratory session. The instructor then uploads the graded report to the web-based server for the student to retrieve for reference. If a report is improperly done, the instructor can notify the student to resubmit the report for another round of grading. This system was experimented over a period of three semesters and received positive responses from instructors and students.

 

Faculty of Law
An Innovative Service-learning Project—
‘Sex, Rights & Videotape’

In an innovative service-learning project, five NUS law students produced a radio programme titled ‘Sex, Rights & Videotape’ which aired on NewsRadio 93.8 from 9 February to 17 March 2003. Through the production of the six-episode series, the students informed and engaged the general public in discussions on legal issues challenging the balance between individual rights and social interests. While doing so, students learned how to communicate and apply their legal knowledge in settings where the people with whom they interacted were not all legally trained. In addition, students practised their legal skills as they researched, analysed and devised interview techniques. By interviewing people and designing an informal online poll to get the views of legal experts, academics, opinion leaders and laypersons, students also sharpened their communication skills. In the process of producing the programme, students gained insight into the social, political and cultural contexts of the legal issues they were exploring and learned how to work together as a team—a valuable experience for legal practice.

 

Faculty of Science
Visualisation in Mathematics: Value-Added Lectures

As a member of his department’s teaching committee, A/Prof Helmer Aslaksen has observed that many lecturers who just read aloud from their notes during lectures. This raises the question: What’s the point of attending such lectures? Can we instead just cancel lectures and ask the students to read notes on the web or watch webcasts? A/Prof Aslaksen believes that lecturers should add value by giving the students something they cannot get from the notes to make it worthwhile for the students to attend lectures.

In his lectures for both GEM1506K ‘Heavenly Mathematics: Cultural Astronomy’ and GEM1518K ‘Mathematics in Art and Architecture’, A/Prof Aslaksen relies heavily on visualisations. He involves his students in acting out the motion of the planets and uses props like a polar bear and a tiger to demonstrate the difference between what the sky looks like to observers at the North Pole and the equator.

 

School of Design & Environment
e-Measurement

The Department of Building strives continuously to introduce new technology in teaching of our students. Advances in technology have helped quantity-surveying students move away from labour intensive tasks (e.g. manual processing of quantities of items of building works) to concentrate more on the important aspects of non-traditional quantity surveying services.
Set up in July 2002, the Department’s state-of-the-art e-Studio has the latest technology to instruct students on how to carry out online measurements, thus preparing them to be 21st Century Quantity Surveyors. Not only are our students required to keep pace with the latest technology, they also have to look beyond the promise of the current technologies by exploring and harvesting the benefits of new knowledge.

In conjunction with established construction players, the QS-Core-Leader initiated two research projects on e-Measurement to encourage students to do a variety of diverse collaborative activities through formalised structures in the e-Studio.

 

School of Design & Environment
Teaching and Learning at the University of California, Berkeley: A Faculty Seminar

In Semester 1 (Academic Year 2002/03), Dr Florence Ling Yean Yng from the Department of Building spent a few months at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) as a visiting scholar. At UCB, Dr Ling attended lectures for final year undergraduates, graduates and gave lectures to graduates and PhD students at the Engineering and Project Management Unit at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.
Dr Ling led a faculty seminar in February 2003 to share her UCB experiences with her NUS colleagues. Mr Terence Tan, an NUS 3rd year BSc (Building) student, who spent one semester in UCB on the Student Exchange Programme was invited to the seminar to enable the faculty to have a more complete picture.

Some of Dr Ling’s observations in UCB include:

  • Tutorials are non-existent but it does not seem to affect the students.

  • Like lecturers in NUS, the professors deliver their lectures in front of the class using overhead projectors and transparencies. The professors do not over-teach and students are expected to do background reading.

  • Many professors adopt interactive teaching methods to get timely and useful feedback from students.

  • For continuous assessments, students have a large number of tests, homework and projects that may account for 50–100% of overall assessment. Graduate Student Instructors help professors grade the continuous and final assessments.

  • Students are motivated, energetic and intelligent. Apart from studying, students do part time jobs and administrative work within the university.

 

Faculty of Medicine
Faculty of Medicine Becomes a Founder Partner of the International Virtual Medical School

The Faculty of Medicine, NUS, recently became a founder and partner institution of the International Virtual Medical School (IVIMEDS), based in Dundee, Scotland. IVIMEDS partners are an international network of medical schools and professional organisations and institutions that are involved with the education of healthcare professionals through the application of new educational learning technologies. IVIMEDS seeks to play a role in improving health and tackling human disease world-wide by providing a blend of e-Learning and high quality face-to-face learning for health care professionals. The IVIMEDS network will develop and implement new approaches to curriculum planning and advanced instructional design incorporating the use of curriculum maps, outcome-based education, electronic study guides, peer-to-peer learning, dynamic learning and a bank of reusable learning objects.

 

University Scholars Programme
Opening of the University Scholars Programme Writing Centre

The University Scholars Programme Writing Centre (http://www.scholars.nus.edu.sg/writingcentre/index.html) opened in January 2003 with Dr Julia Gardner as its current director. Following the models of established writing centres at leading universities such as Harvard, Cornell and Princeton, the Writing Centre offers one-to-one peer-facilitated conferences to help students negotiate the writing/thinking process (e.g. brainstorming, developing a thesis, structuring an argument and revising a draft). Student Writing Assistants receive extensive training to teach students general writing strategies in the context of specific assignments and to help them become astute readers of their own writing.

The Writing Centre also supports Scholars Programme faculty members who would like to confer with a colleague from the Writing and Critical Thinking Domain regarding incorporating or supporting ideas for writing in their modules. In the longer term, the Writing Centre hopes to archive sample assignments and essays from various disciplines offered at the Scholars Programme so faculty members could review successful assignments as they develop their syllabi and facilitate the exchange of ideas across disciplines.



 

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