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HKBU Graduate Attributes: Consultation Session. Prof. Tony Hung Language Centre HKBU 22 May 2008. Some Important Questions for the Institution.

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hkbu graduate attributes consultation session

HKBU Graduate Attributes: Consultation Session

Prof. Tony Hung

Language Centre HKBU

22 May 2008

some important questions for the institution
Some Important Questions for the Institution
  • ‘What student learning outcomes are we trying to achieve? What kind of graduates are we trying to produce, and why? How do our desired learning outcomes relate to our mission and to the role agreed with the UGC? Are our desired learning outcomes reflected in all programmes?’

[from the QAC Audit Manual: 5.4]

from ugc s 2002 tlqpr report on hkbu
From UGC’s 2002 TLQPR Report on HKBU

3.1.6 ‘…The Panel could not identify clear evidence that the goal of Whole Person Education pervades departmental thinking (apart from the departments with a specific mandate in this respect) to the extent that could be expected, or indeed the Panel was led to expect. Similarly, the Panel could not identify clear evidence for any translation or progression from the broad aim, to objectives, to explicit learning outcomes, or how the University assures itself that this aim of providing Whole Person Education is in fact being achieved.’

proposed hkbu graduate attributes
Proposed HKBU Graduate Attributes

An undergraduate education at HKBU aims at fostering the following attributes in its graduates, who should:

1. Have up-to-date, in-depth knowledge of an academic specialty as well as a broad range of general knowledge;

  • Have trilingual and biliterate competence in English and Chinese (including Putonghua);
  • Be able to think logically, critically and creatively;
Have the necessary numeracy skills to function effectively in work and everyday life;
  • Be an independent, lifelong learner with an inquiring spirit;

6. Be well-developed as a ‘whole person’ – intellectually, morally, spiritually, culturally, socially and physically;

7. Be a responsible citizen with an international outlook and a willingness to serve and lead.

what is the relationship between wpe and ga
What is the relationship between WPE and GA?
  • Both GA and WPE conceptualize the goal of education as developing all aspects of the whole person (intellectual, moral, social, cultural, physical, etc.)
  • They differ mainly with respect to perspective and emphasis.
differences in perspective
Differences in Perspective
  • WPE adopts a more taxonomicperspective, in classifying and finding a proper place for all aspects of the ‘whole person’, without giving any one aspect particular prominence.
  • GA has a more outcomes-oriented perspective, focusing on the qualities or attributes that we hope our graduates will have attained by the time they graduate; and since this is a university, the majority of these outcomes tend (naturally) to be associated with knowledge and cognitive/intellectual skills.
why we need both wpe ga
Why we need both WPE & GA
  • We need WPE to give us a general ‘credo’ or ‘ethos’ that shapes what we do as educators.
  • We need GA to provide us with more concrete and specific institutional outcomes to aim at, and to align our course/programme objectives with.
  • WPE and GA will need to be consistent with each other, but we need not be unduly worried about ‘overlaps’ – in fact, if they are consistent with each other, they should (indeed) overlap to some extent (cf. HKBU’s Mission and Role Statement).
inculcating graduate attributes
Inculcating Graduate Attributes
  • Up-to-date, in-depth knowledge of an academic specialty as well as a broad range of general knowledge:
  • Our undergraduate curriculum -- with its major requirements, and provisions for ‘complementary’ and ‘distribution’ subjects -- is designed to help students acquire reasonably in-depth knowledge of an academic specialty as well as broad general knowledge.
Trilingual and biliterate competence in English and Chinese (including Putonghua):
  • HKBU has (adequate?) provisions for core language courses in English and Chinese -- including Putonghua (with the recently introduced Putonghua requirement for all undergraduates);
  • What we need more of are language courses designed to develop higher-level communicative skills – such as public-speaking, creative writing (in a broad sense), and language for specific purposes.
3.Ability to think logically, critically and creatively:
  • This demands more attention and effort from all academic programmes, where there is (generally) too much reliance on traditional modes of teaching as ‘knowledge transmission’ -- to the neglect of getting students to think critically and creatively about what they are learning.
  • Critical and creative thinking cannot be taught successfully in isolation – it needs to be inculcated by all teachers in the teaching of all subjects.
4. Basic numeracy skills in work and everyday life:
  • The proposed introduction of a core course on ‘Mathematics’ (tentative title) in the 4-year curriculum may go some way towards meeting this need;
  • Like critical and creative thinking, numeracy needs to be taken on board by every academic programme (in whatever shape or form is appropriate).
5. An independent, lifelong learner with an inquiring spirit:
  • Students are unlikely to develop into ‘lifelong learners’ if we teach them mainly by transmitting ready-made knowledge to them and getting them to regurgitate it at the end of the course;
  • If we really want them to become lifelong learners, we will have to foster a spirit of inquiry and help them discover knowledge for themselves instead of ‘spoon-feeding’ them.
  • This involves a lot of re-thinking of our ways of teaching, but it can (and should) be done in all disciplines.
the independent learner
The independent learner
  • ‘I mastered the material, but was usually a little too independent to do precisely what the teacher wanted, and so was never considered among the very best students. Usually the worse the teacher (at least according to me), the lower was my standing.’

[Carl Wieman, Nobel laureate in Physics]

6. ‘Whole Person’ development – intellectual, moral, spiritual, cultural, social & physical:
  • ‘Whole Person’ education cannot be left to any single unit or programme alone (like Complementary Studies – though they can obviously contribute a great deal);
  • The desirable attributes of the ‘Whole Person’ can be inculcated (to a greater or lesser extent) through the teaching of any subject, by trying to ‘humanize’ it and relate it to real-life concerns.
7. A responsible citizen with an international outlook and a willingness to serve and lead:
  • There are co-curricular and extra-curricular programmes aimed at fostering these attributes, but all teachers can contribute to them in one way or another through their teaching.
graduate attributes the teacher
Graduate Attributes & the Teacher
  • ‘Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.’
  • ‘Good teachers share one trait: a strong sense of personal identity infuses their work…. Bad teachers distance themselves from the subject they are teaching, and from their students. Good teachers join self and subject and students in the fabric of life.’

[P.J.Palmer, The Courage to Teach (Wiley 2007), pp.10-11]

integrating graduate attributes with course learning outcomes further illustrations
Integrating Graduate Attributes with Course Learning Outcomes: Further Illustrations

Example 1: LANG2220 English through Current Events

Intended Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Use English effectively in speaking and writing about current events;
  • Understand spoken and written news reports in English accurately;
3. Analyse and discuss news reports and commentaries critically and in an informed manner;

4. Develop a broad acquaintance with current local and international events and issues, in various spheres (political, economic, social, cultural, moral, educational, etc.);

5. Develop a personal and rational point of view on current events and issues.

sample materials april plan to save mansion was ignored from scmp sept 2007
Sample materials‘April plan to save mansion was ignored’ [from SCMP, Sept. 2007]
  • The government could have saved the King Yin Lei mansion from the wreckers five months ago, it has emerged. But it ignored a letter in which a leading architect acting for the then owner proposed to preserve the historic building in Mid-Levels.
Mr Liao [the architect] said it appeared the developer knew how to destroy the building without infringing laws.
  • "This is a strategy. Deface it first and redevelop," he said.
why non violence has failed in myanmar from scmp sept 2007
‘Why non-violence has failed in Myanmar’[from SCMP, Sept. 2007]
  • Empty monasteries, severed telecommunications and a sullen, beaten silence; it doesn't just feel like a defeat for the Myanmese people - it feels like the end of an era. It was an era that began at the other end of Southeast Asia two decades ago, with the non-violent overthrow in 1986 of the Marcos regime in the Philippines by "people power"….
The emotion that non-violence works on is shame. Most people feel that murdering large numbers of their fellow citizens is a shameful action. And, even if those at the top of a regime can smother that emotion, their soldiers, who do the actual killing, may not be able to.
student feedback on the course
Student Feedback on the Course
  • This subject lets me know more about the current events in different parts of the world and it also trains me to have critical thinking in looking at the current issues.
  • [The lecturer] can motivate us to study by ourselves.
  • I feel able to get my horizon broader, with focus not merely on local news items.
  • [The lecturer] encourages us to speak up and speak freely.
It helped enhance my ability of critical and independentthinking.
  • It inspired us to think critically and to be more aware about things happening around us. It also encouraged us to use English more in our daily lives.
  • It provides student with a chance to pay more attention on current affairs, no matter in Hong Kong or in other parts of the world.
example 2 lang 7550 english as a world language
Example 2: LANG 7550 English as a World Language

Intended Learning Outcomes:

By the end of the course, the students should be able to:

1. Describe the history and development of English from its beginnings in the 5th century to the present day;

2. Explain the spread of English to other parts of the world through colonization and other processes;

3. Account for the rise of English as a ‘world language’ in the 20th-21st centuries;

4. Understand and apply the conceptual and methodological tools of ‘World Englishes’ to the analysis of the linguistic features of ‘New Englishes’, as well as their social, cultural, educational and political roles in their respective societies.

5. Analyse and compare the linguistic and socio-cultural features of some well-known modern varieties of English, including British, American, Australian, Indian, Singapore, Hong Kong and China English;

6. Discuss the linguistic, social, political, cultural and educational issues arising from the emergence of English as a world language, in a logical and informed manner.

sample assignment
Sample Assignment
  • In the last few decades, a colloquial, non-standard form of English known as ‘Singlish’ has evolved in Singapore. [For descriptions of the linguistic and social features of Singlish, refer to the relevant readings, and also the website of SPAS (‘Society for the Preservation of Authentic Singlish’) and its ‘Coxford Singlish Dictionary’ at:, and to Dr Anthea Gupta’s Singlish website:]

  • Nowadays, Singlish is widely spoken among Singaporeans of all ages (both educated and uneducated), and has become a serious concern to the Singaporean authorities, who see it as the enemy of ‘good English’, and who have banned the use of Singlish on TV and radio (including commercials and sitcoms) and conducted campaigns to discourage the use of Singlish in favour of ‘Good English’ (see the ‘Speak Good English’ website at
The following comments by Singapore’s leaders are indicative:
  • (Former) Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew: ‘Singlish is a handicap we do not wish on Singaporeans’
  • (Former) Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong: (i) ‘Singlish is poor English that reflects badly on us and makes us seem less intelligent or competent’. (ii) ‘Singlish is not English. It is English corrupted by Singaporeans and has become a Singapore dialect’
While some Singaporeans support the above point of view, there are also dissenting voices, e.g. in this quote from the SPAS website:
  • ‘And what's wrong with Singlish anyway? It's how Singaporeans speak in casual company. If Londoners can speak Cockney or Liverpudlians can speak Scouse, why can't we speak Singlish? We're not asking schools to start teaching Singlish as a subject… But surely we Singaporeans are not so stupid that we cannot tell the difference between the kind of language acceptable in casual settings and the kind expected in business or official correspondence.’
In your essay, you should discuss the following:

(i) What do you think of the two opposing views on Singlish cited above? Who do you agree with and why, or, if you have a different point of view from either, what is it?

(ii) What do you think of the Singaporean authorities’ efforts to suppress Singlish? Is it justified, and is it likely to succeed? How would you deal with the Singlish situation if you had the authority?

(iii) How do you think a dialect like ‘Singlish’ has evolved in Singapore in the first place? Do you think something equivalent to Singlish would ever evolve in Hong Kong or China in the future, and play a similar role in the sociolinguistic situation here?

student feedback on the course1
Student Feedback on the Course
  • [The lecturer]always motivates students to be active learners.
  • The subject broadens the horizons of my view point of English
  • The contents are inspiring and interesting, stimulating learners to think critically about the current issue of English as a global language.
  • Give us new knowledge about Englishes in different parts of the world. I knew nothing about this before taking this course, and have not considered some controversial issues before, like what is Standard English
The content of the lectures is inspiring and thought-provoking on the subject.
  • [The lecturer’s]enthusiasm and professional knowledge in the teaching subject could definitely stimulate and enhance students' interest and motivation for an effective learning
  • Cultivate analytic thinking of students
  • [The lecturer] always tries his best to stimulate our thinking in a critical way. He has been an inspiring teacher in the course.
appendix 1 some useful websites
Appendix 1: Some Useful Websites
  • HKBU QAC Audit Website:

(ii) Introduction & Workshops on OBTL:

(iii) OBTL Websites in other Universities:






appendix 2 graduate profiles attributes in other hk universities
Appendix 2: Graduate Profiles/Attributes in other HK universities
  • CityU: (i), (ii)

  • CUHK: (i) (ii)
  • HKIEd:
  • HKU:
  • HKUST:
  • Lingnan:
  • PolyU: