HSUHK English Lecture Series Event – Unpacking Criticality: A Text-Informed Inquiry

Dear colleagues and students,

The Department of English invites you to join the first event of the HSUHK English Lecture Series on 2 September 2021. The details are as follows:

Date: 2 September 2021 (Thursday)
Time: 10:30 am – 12:30 pm
Venue: Room A314, S H Ho Academic Building

Topic: Unpacking Criticality: A Text-Informed Inquiry
Speaker: Dr Ken Lau, Senior Lecturer, Centre for Applied English Studies, the University of Hong Kong
Registration: Please fill in this Google Form

Emphasis of criticality is increasingly commonplace in higher education (Johnston et al., 2011) to the extent that it has (almost) been taken for granted. Reflected in student performance, criticality is often seen as a key assessment criterion, be it articulated explicitly or tacitly, despite the fact that there appears not much consensus between assessors as to what defines it and how it should be operationalized. This talk intends to address this gap by making an attempt to textually reify ‘criticality’ as exemplified in written reflection completed by a group of Hong Kong undergraduate students for an out-of-class learning component of an ESP course (see, Lau, 2013, 2017 for details). Written reflections which were judged by teachers as ‘critical’, specifically having demonstrated the capacity for critical reflection upon course performance, were collected and coded with reference to the engagement resources under the appraisal theory of Systemic Functional Linguistics. Under engagement, the linguistic resources deal with the alignment and dis-alignment between the reader and writer as well as the incorporation of monoglossic or heteroglossic voice (Martin & White, 2005, see also Mesa & Chang, 2010). The range and types of engagement resources deployed seem to be contributing factors to the success of these reflective pieces. Pedagogical implications of teaching engagement resources will be discussed at the end of this talk.

Johnston, B., Mitchell, R., Myles, F. & Ford, P. (2011). Developing student criticality in high education. London: Continuum.
Lau, K. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of an out-of-class reflective component of a technical English course through tracing participants’ perceptual changes. Reflective Practice: International and Multidisciplinary Perspectives, 14(6), 691-704.
Lau, K. (2017). ‘The most important thing is to learn the way to learn’: Evaluating the effectiveness of independent learning by perceptual changes. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 42(3), 415-430.
Martin, J. and White, P. R. R. (2005). The language of evaluation: Appraisal in English. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mesa, V. and Chang, P. (2010). The language of engagement in two highly interactive undergraduate mathematics classrooms. Linguistics and Education, 21, 83-100.

Ken Lau is Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Applied English Studies (CAES), the University of Hong Kong. At CAES, he is primarily responsible for teaching on the two MA programmes and supervising PhD students. His research interests span three areas, namely, higher education studies, English language education and discourse studies. He has published on a wide range of topics including language policies, assessment of reflection and independent learning, English as a lingua franca, English learning experiences and EAP/ESP in key SSCI journals such as Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, Higher Education, Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Language and Education, Oxford Review of Education and System.