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Division of Science, Mathematics and Computing

Introduction

The Science, Mathematics and Computing (SMAC) division comprises less than 15 staff members who actively engage in research and community engagements. Most of the members serve as leaders in local, national, and international professional organizations, research organizations, and journals. 

The core areas of interest and expertise of the SMAC division are in the teaching and learning of mathematics and science, including biology, chemistry, physics, and integrated science, at primary and secondary school levels, and the professional education and training of teachers working at these levels. Considerable interest and expertise have also been given in the area of liberal studies.

The SMAC division undertakes projects that significantly contribute to both research and professional fields. These projects aim to integrate intellectual rigor and originality into policy development and practice. Comparative studies in science and mathematics education are one of the division’s strengths.

Aside from teaching specialized courses, the SMAC division also contributes to the faculty-wide program of graduate research training. The number of research students in the division is increasing, and informal enquires from prospective applicants are continuously being welcomed.

SMC Teaching Photo

Teaching

Teaching is at the core of the activities of the SMAC division. SMAC division members have exemplary teaching practices and are focused on bringing about positive learning outcomes among students, which is evident from their high evaluation scores and from the large number of teaching development grants received by the division.

At the undergraduate level, the SMAC division contributes to the teaching of the following programmes of Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Science (BEd&BSc) and Bachelor of Education (Liberal Studies) [BEd(LibSt)]  to prepare teachers for the secondary level. Aside from the specialized programmes, the SMAC division also contributes to the Common Core Curriculum that is mandatory to all new undergraduates in the University. The courses under this curriculum include Making Sensible Decisions on Socio-scientific Issues and Quantitative Literacy in Science, Technology, and Society, which aim to sharpen the scientific literacy of students.

At the postgraduate level, SMAC division members mainly contribute to the teaching of the programmes of Postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) major methods courses (e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Computer Studies, and Liberal Studies) as well as Master of Education (MEd) specialist courses (e.g. Science Education and Mathematics Education). The SMAC division also offers general electives in both PGDE and MEd programmes, such as Teaching of Critical Thinking in General Studies, Cultural, Ethical, and Legal Awareness for Teachers, Learning to Notice: Toward Effective Teaching and Quality Classroom Research, and Effective Teaching of Mathematics, Science, and Liberal Studies for English Language Learners.

Aside from supervising the growing number of research students, the SMAC division also contributes to higher degree programs, namely, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Education (EdD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil), by offering courses on research methods such as Learning to do Case Studies: A Practical Approach.

Research

SMAC division members play leadership roles in local, national, and international professional organizations, research organizations, and journals. They are also internationally recognized for their research achievements. An example is Professor Frederick Leung who received the prestigious Freudenthal Award in mathematics education in 2013. The research interests and sample projects of the division are listed as follows:

  • Comparative studies in science and mathematics education
    • Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)
    • TIMSS Video Study
    • Comparison of the Learners' Perspectives of Mathematics Lessons between Australia and Hong Kong
    • The Chinese Pedagogy of Mathematics
  • Learning and teaching of Mathematics
    • Students’ algebra sense via their understanding of the distributive law
    • Developing learning and assessment tasks in a dynamic geometry environment
  • Learning and teaching of Science/Liberal Studies
    • Developing the scientific literacy of students
    • Language in science education
    • Science communication and visualization
    • Group work and critical thinking
  • Science and mathematics teacher education and professional development
    • Preparing teachers for teaching nature of science
    • Promoting assessment for learning
    • Using videos for teacher professional development
SMC Community Engagement Photo

Community Engagement

SMAC division members have a strong record of serving local and international communities. Aside from serving on the editorial boards of prestigious journals, SMAC division members also serve in international committees, such as the Standing Committee of the International Association for the Evaluation of Academic Achievement (IEA). They also proactively participate in networking research in the region. Some members have been founding members, vice president, secretary, and executive members of the East Asia Association for Science Education (EASE). SMC division members also participate in international consultancy work, such as the OCED Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), as well as various World Bank and UNESCO projects. They are also highly sought after to deliver keynote speeches at international conferences.

Locally, SMAC division members serve in various committees of Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA), the Curriculum and Development Council (CDC),  and the Steering Committee and Assessment Panel of the Chief Executive’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Some members also work in the management boards of secondary schools. Most importantly, they are all committed toward serving the local community and are actively involved in many knowledge exchange activities. Recent examples of these activities include the following:

  • Promoting Assessment for Learning in Junior Secondary Science through Secondary Analysis of the Hong Kong Study of TIMSS 2007 on Science
  • Effective Learning and Teaching of Science at the Junior Secondary Level – Using English as the Medium of Instruction
  • Preparing Teachers for Teaching Ideas about Science in the New Senior Secondary Curriculum – A Dual Approach
  • Talking Mathematics with Parents
  • Infusing Scientific Inquiry and Nature of Science into the Learning and Teaching of the New Senior Secondary Biology Curriculum
  • Enhancing Senior Secondary Students’ Understanding of the Nature of Science (NOS) and the Interconnection between Science, Technology and Society (STS) through Innovative Teaching and Learning Activities
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