Exploring Cultural Diversity in Chinese Classrooms: Can Assessment Environments Cater for the Needs of Ethnic Minority Students in Hong Kong?

Project: Research project

Project Details


Ethnic minority students are a small and, until recently, a largely unrecognized group within Hong Kong’s education system. Their participation is most noticeable in primary and junior secondary school but almost negligible in senior secondary and higher education. The disadvantage suffered by these students has been highlighted recently by political processes that have put in place legislation prohibiting race discrimination. This has led to government actions designed to support ethnic minority students at all levels of education. Despite such actions, addressing the needs of ethnic minority students poses considerable problems, not so much for policy reasons as reasons related to educational practice. A significant amount of literature on learning and assessment in Hong Kong contexts has focused on Chinese students (Watkins and Biggs, 1996, Brown et al., in press, Mok, Cheng, Moore, & Kennedy, 2006). In general, this literature indicates that there are Chinese cultural norms governing both the learning behavior of students and the expectations of teachers. Yet there is now an emergent, and publicly acknowledged, multiculturalism represented by ethnic minority students. A key issue for this project, therefore, is how these traditional Chinese cultural norms are modified for multicultural classes and how they impact on ethnic minority students and their progress in learning. The learning culture of Hong Kong classrooms catering for ethnic minority students will be investigated to identify any barriers to learning faced by ethnic minority students. The focus will be on the way classroom assessment environments have the potential to either include or exclude students from successful schooling. The classroom assessment environment focuses on “the way teachers communicate their expectations to students and the way they provide feedback as to how well these expectations are met…(thus) help(ing) students form concepts of what is important to learn and how (Brookhart and De Voge, 1999, p.409). This research seeks to understand the realities of ethnic minority students in Hong Kong classrooms and to develop a model that can help tto explain learning outcomes for ethnic minority students. Distal influences such as system and school level policies will be examined. Proximal influences such as teachers’ conceptions of assessment and their classroom practices will also be studied. Attention will also be paid to students’ own conceptions of assessment as well as their self efficacy for learning. The project will identify the relationship between these different influences and the impact they exert on the learning of ethnic minority students.

Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
Effective start/end date01/01/1031/12/12


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