Experiential Learning Fund Staff-initiated Project 2022-23 (First Round)
|Documenting the lived experience and communication difficulties of people with aphasia and engaging them to social activities amid and after the COVID-19 pandemic
Course code: SHSC4032
Number of undergraduate students participating: 45
|Dr Anthony Pak-Hin Kong
Faculty of Education
|Outdoor Environmental Education Experiential Learning Project
Course Code: BBED6802
Number of undergraduate students participating: 12
|Ms Vivien Lee
Faculty of Education
• Aphasia refers to an acquired disorder of language functions that affects the ability to understand, speak, read, and write across various performance levels from word, sentence, to discourse. People with aphasia (PWA) are affected not only in communication, but also social functioning and quality of life. In qualitative phenomenological research, lived experience is a representation of the experiences and choices of a given person in the daily life, and the resultant knowledge that one gains. Each year in Hong Kong, there are over 20,000 new cases of stroke, of which up to 38% are affected by aphasia.
• Due to inherent communication difficulties, neurological and cognitive problems, as well as physical hurdles, PWA face extra barriers amid the pandemic that cause disparities in health services. In the past two years, many PWA have avoided going out amid the pandemic; this caused different degrees of regression of communication skills and social performance, as well as reduction of social well-being among PWA. How exactly PWA have been struggling amid the pandemic and limited in their capacity to keep abreast of the evolution of COVID remains under-examined, not just locally in Hong Kong but globally. In other words, the needs of PWA (and their family members or loved ones) during and after the pandemic is not fully understood; this seriously limits their social engagement and re-integration to community activities.
• The first part of this project (Year 1: 2022-23) will document, investigate, and report the challenges in communication and social engagement PWA faced under COVID-19. In particular, students can design and conduct structured interviews with PWA to share their views on this topic. They will also work with different related stakeholders of aphasia (e.g., caregivers or healthcare professionals such as social workers, nurses, doctors, paramedical therapists) to reflect on support/training offered to PWA in different clinical settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, out-patient or university clinics, or community support groups.
• Part 2 of this project (Year 2-3: 2023-25) will focus on plans and strategies to engage PWA to social activities through both virtual and face-to-face platforms. In particular, apart from collaborating with recreation staff and/or allied health professionals in community centers and/or local support groups in Hong Kong to design, structure, and modify activities for PWA members, students will tailor-make and conduct cognitively-stimulating exercises, group activities, and/or communication tasks in different community settings to engage PWA. If applicable, students will also design and implement exercises or workshops for PWA members to use small, handheld, and adaptable aids to support their communication and basic activities of daily living.
• Through participating in this experiential learning project, students will not only gain hands-on practical experience in interacting with PWA and caregivers (and therefore gain a better understanding of the clinical communication symptoms of aphasia and family burdens described in classrooms/textbooks), but also improve their communication skills with different healthcare professionals who provide intervention to stroke patients. Students will also benefit from working with different healthcare professionals to tailor-make social and communication activities (to be conducted either virtually or in-person) that suit the specific needs of clients. The ultimate goal of this project is to allow more student speech therapists at HKU to learn aphasia from a different and more holistic perspective and to reveal dimensions of aphasia management outside the typical clinical context.
• Our interviews and reports will be publicized through social media and videos to raise public awareness of speech therapy and aphasia. These project-end deliverables aim to allow students to synthesize the classroom learning of aphasia with the practical aspects of hands-on interactions with PWA and other stakeholders of management of this disorder within the unique context of COVID-19.
According to the fifth report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if people are to prevent climate change from causing global climate disasters, rapid, far-reaching actions that would effect unprecedented changes at all levels of the society are essential. Among these levels, education is one of the most important channels to make sustainable changes. Thus, a proper understanding of nature and the environment is an important foundation for establishing appropriate environmental behaviour, hence effecting changes. In order to cultivate this behaviour among the future generations, it is essential for teachers to not just understand the importance of environmental education, but also to learn about its myriad methods of application to enhance teaching effectiveness.
Collaborating with Outdoor Wildlife Learning Hong Kong (OWLHK), this course aims to nurture ecologically knowledgeable and reflective student educators who can unravel the beauty of nature and make an educational impact to the future generations. Our student educators will first learn about the theoretical knowledge of Environmental Education and the reflective learning cycles in experiential education in both the nature and classrooms. Then they will work in cross-disciplinary teams to put their knowledge into practice – designing and facilitating secondary school students’ learning process in an outdoor environmental education learning programme.
Students will be assigned to work in groups to (a) experience outdoor environmental educational programme themselves, (b) design and conduct an outdoor environmental educational programme, including pre-departure training, during-outing activities, and de-briefing sessions for a group of local Secondary 3 students. The final programme materials may be used by the OWLHK staff for future educational programmes for other schools.