Curricular or co-curricular? What relates to students' generic competences?

Pui Ling Ada CHAN, Wing Sze Wincy LEE, Chi Ho Joseph SO, Yau Tak Alvin WONG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


In the advent of outcome-based education, much effort has been made by tertiary institutes to identify and hence measure intended generic competences of graduates. The contribution of the formal academic curriculum to the development of graduates' generic competences remains the focus of empirical studies. However, lately, it is noted that co-curricular activities in tertiary context, though informal and less structured, do constitute a large portion of students' learning experience and hence contribute to the fostering of generic competences are often left under-explored.

The present study aims at filling this gap by examining the relationship of students' prior engagement level in co-curricular activities and prior academic performances with six dimensions of generic competence respectively. A total of 1,764 students from a self-financed tertiary institutes participated in the study voluntarily and filled out an online survey during the orientation program at the beginning of their academic study. The instrument consisted of items measuring six generic competences (Hui, 2014): 1) Lifelong learner; 2) Competent professional; 3) Critical thinker; 4) Effective communicator; 5) Practical problem solver and 6) Ethical citizen. Students also provided their prior academic attainment and prior co-curricular engagement level for further analysis. Results showed three lines of findings: 1) the six generic competences correlated with each other positively; 2) the cumulative percentage of students reported a level of “some degree of engagement in co-curricular activities” or above added up to 88%; and 3) prior academic attainment does not associate with any generic competences but only prior degree of co-curricular engagement associates with all six generic competences.

Results of the study yield several implications. First, it demonstrates the importance of co-curricular activities in students' learning experience for most students indicating somewhat more degree of involvement. In relation to this, results showed that only this prior degree of engagement in co-curricular activities associate with their generic competences, but not their prior academic performance. Second, the positive correlations among all generic competences suggest further effort in developing a second-order factorial structure of the construct. Future studies may delve into understanding the mechanism of generic competences development with reference to a more theoretically-driven co-curricular program. Copyright © 2018 FSTE Conference.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
EventFSTE Conference 2018: Striving for Quality Education - The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
Duration: 01 Jun 201801 Jun 2018


ConferenceFSTE Conference 2018: Striving for Quality Education
Country/TerritoryHong Kong


Chan, P. L. A., Lee, W. W. S., So, C. H. J., & Wong, Y. T. A. (2018, June). Curricular or co-curricular? What relates to students' generic competences? Paper presented at the FSTE Conference 2018: Striving for Quality Education, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, China.


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