NUS Awards Banquet and Discussion on Authentic Learning

On May 19, the NUS Teaching Academy had its Awards Banquet, where it added its seven new members (including me!) and featured a guest from the University of Hong Kong, Prof Rick Glofcheski, who has won the Hong Kong wide best educator award, as well as the University of Hong Kong best teacher award.  Rick teaches law, and is an expert on authentic learning and in creating real-world examples for his tort law students based on their own reading of Hong Kong’s several newspapers. He presented a lively talk before the banquet that described his approach to teaching, and gave some great examples of how his students began the process of reading newspapers and ended up becoming life-long readers and observers of how the law applies in the world around them. Key to the success of his approach is to have students create a log of their reading, so it is spread out over the semester and starts early. This reading log is verified by an online system and enables the students to have the time to reflect on how their reading changes during the semester as they can begin to fit some of the pieces of the class into their observations of tort law all around them. Rick also has an assignment where students become photo-essayists, and they submit a few photos that illustrate a potential case in tort law.  The examples of student photos included many “lawsuits in waiting” – such as worker in Hong Kong suspended high above the ground on rickety bamboo scaffolds, people sitting on a Hong Kong bus with none of them wearing seatbelts and with a slippery metal floor, and dangerous intersections.

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During the banquet, NUS President Tan Chor Chuan provided opening remarks, and the NUS Teaching Academy director Kumaralingam Amirthalingam (Kumar) gave a wonderful opening address, and provided a nice metaphor between the excellent wines available during the banquet, and the mixing of disciplines represented by the Teaching Academy. I am delighted to be part of the Teaching Academy, and at every turn am happily surprised by the energy and intellect of the group, which includes representatives from every corner of NUS – in law, medicine, public health, pharmacy, natural sciences, social sciences and humanities.


At the banquet I had a nice talk with Marine Biology professor Peter Todd, and being a SCUBA and oceanography buff, enjoyed talking with him about the best locations within our region to find unbleached corals, the effects of global warming on coral and marine biology, and local field trip sites near Singapore that might be of interest for our students and our Foundations of Science class.


Rick was an exciting and engaging speaker, and we enjoyed talking with him both about empowering students to find examples of their course material in the world around them, but also in handing over more of the course to these students so their learning becomes self driven. This is the key element for students both to learn the material and to build life-long habits that extend their learning, according to Rick. He presented a day-long workshop at NUS afterwards on May 20 on “Authentic Learning and Task-Based Self-Directed Learning” – the slides from that workshop are below.

Workshop_slides 1 – slides from Rick Glofcheski workshop on Authentic Learning (part 1)

Workshop_slides 2 – slides from Rick Glofcheski workshop on Authentic Learning (part 2)


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