Software for hard subjects

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 1996, 12:00am

Students and teachers are being offered a computer program designed to help overcome the hassles of studying maths and science. A British company, which operates sixth form colleges, has developed a software system for Advanced-level subjects like Chemistry, Pure Mathematics and Physics.

With science students in the territory facing intense competition in order to get a place in higher education, many students and teachers are looking at ways of lessening the constraints of Hong Kong classrooms.

A lack of space and a shortage of teachers often means many schools in Hong Kong tend to have larger classes, usually around 38 to 42 students per class. Try as they might, teachers are hard put to give students individual attention. This creates more problems for students who need extra help.

The new software, published by ScreenActive, can be used on Windows version 1.02 or higher. It asks questions, gives answers and explanations and records and analyses the student's progress.

The package also indicates the student's strong and weak academic areas.

Peter Boorman, group director of the Davies Laing and Dick, was in town to promote the software his company developed for the group's sixth form colleges, the Abbey Tutorial Colleges.

Mr Boorman said there was fierce competition among students to do well in A-level Pure Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and related subjects.

'Our user-friendly software gives detailed explanations that answer a student's needs, and in fact helps the teacher see where each student might need more help.' Since the group's colleges started using the software there was 'better teaching and learning all around', he said.

K. W. Tsang, Principal Inspector for Mathematics at the Education Department, showed interest in the new software.

'There are no guidelines or requirements concerning teaching with interactive multi-media,' Mr Tsang said. 'And as far as I know, not that many schools use computers in everyday teaching. But we are interested in going through the software and seeing whether it could be used on a large scale in Hong Kong.' Mr Boorman had more than just the software to promote when he came to Hong Kong. The Abbey Tutorial Colleges, which were established in 1931, had vacancies and he was interested in attracting Hong Kong students to fill places.

'Hong Kong students are confident because they have a very good grounding and know the basics of most subjects,' Mr Boorman said.

'They also seem very disciplined, so I think they will do well in our schools.' Paul Grey, Assistant Trade Commissioner with the British Trade Commission, said there were many advantages to studying in the UK.

'When you are in Europe, you are very much connected to all these different countries, which give you lots of different cultures,' he said.

His comments were endorsed by Dr Verner Bickley, who had arranged a cocktail reception to present the software package.

'With small classes, and good teaching that avoids cramming, Abbey has turned out scores of gifted students, all of whose grades have gone up significantly since joining the school,' Dr Bickley said.

For more information about the DLD Group of Colleges, write to: Peter Boorman, Group Director, Davies Laing and Dick Group of Education, 10 Pembridge Square, London W2 4ED, England.