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"Last year, Dr Su Guaning, President of NTU, established the Blue Ribbon Commission on Undergraduate Education to conduct a conduct a bottom-up review of the university’s undergraduate education philosophy and curriculum.
One of the members of this Commission is Associate Professor Kwok Kian Woon, Head of the Division of Sociology and Associate Chair of the
It is a great learning opportunity to be able to play a role in this project. As part of the coursework in the Sociology programme, I had to take a course on qualitative research methods, and one of the methods that were taught was the use of focus group interviews. The success of such interviews depends heavily on the ability of the facilitator to ‘nudge’ the discussion such that a kind of ‘creative tension’ can be generated from the divergent views offered by participants. Hence, managing a focus group discussion is an art in itself, one that is not easily learnt through textbooks.
Having conducted such interviews on numerous occasions for his own work as well as for research projects commissioned by other parties, Prof Kwok is a veteran in using such methods of inquiry. Hence, each session that I attended was like an ‘expert demonstration.’ And, because of my own involvement in the project, I was able to position myself both as a participant and an observer, turning each session into an invaluable learning opportunity.
Besides such tangible benefits, my general involvement in the whole project was also meaningful at a deeper level. Having heard responses from both students and faculty members during the discussions and through personal interactions, it is comforting to know that the ideals of higher education and learning still resonate in the crevices of instrumentality. Such moral excitement is the intangible ‘riches’ that await those who are enterprising enough to venture into the field of humanistic research." - Kelvin Chia
Labels: The RA Files