Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Building 21st century global capacity through whole person education  (#91)

Spencer A. Benson 1
  1. University of Macau, Taipa, Macao

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

To meet the new and emerging higher educational challenges universities in Asia, as well as elsewhere, universities are rethinking what undergraduate education needs to be, in order to equip graduates to be successful in a changing increasingly global knowledge base world.  In the current global knowledge-based economies where information is accessible anytime-anywhere through a variety of devices and technologies the question of what skills and information an undergraduate education should provide and be focused on is a topic of discussion and debate at universities around the world.  Within Greater China (The People’s Republic of China (PRC), Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) the concept of whole person or holistic education that integrates “hard” and “soft” skills development into undergraduate programs has taken root at many universities in Greater China in an effort to meet 21st Century educational needs.  This paper will look at various whole person education models in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.  Using Macau’s signature 4 in 1 Educational Model that involves; discipline education, peer education through a required residential college experience, research and internship education, and general education we will discuss the challenges and issues for each of these domains and the complexities of integrating these four separate but interrelated educational components in the construction and delivery of a high quality undergraduate programs (majors) that seek to ensure students’ development of both hard and in soft intellectual skills.  We will discuss the nature of these two skill sets and their integration into a holistic educational program that serves the needs of 21st-century graduates.  Using the University of Macau as a case study we will discuss the challenges and lesson learned in launching, refinement and improvement, and assessment of the 4 in 1 Educational Model.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This paper directly addresses the 1st sub-theme “educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals” and to a lesser extent the 3rd sub-theme “assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities”.  Through the use of examples from several Asian countries and the University of Macau case study the question of how a whole person or holistic approach to undergraduate education can be used to address the needs of educating students to be responsive and adaptable professionals will be a central topic of the paper.  The question of what it means to be a “responsive and adaptable professional” will be an overarching component of the paper topic.  To a lesser degree the question of assessment and evaluation will be touched upon, however an in-depth probing of this question cannot be addressed within the limitations of the presentation/paper guidelines.  Nonetheless the importance of assessment and evaluation will be addressed as well as the challenges of developing appropriate and authentic measurements.  To a minor degree the role of technology in the delivery and assessment of whole person education will be touched upon.

  1. Li Jin, Cultural Foundations of Learning East and West, 2012, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521160629
  2. About the University 4 in 1 Education Model
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