Direct and indirect effects of secondary students' religious engagement on civic and social values: A comparison of Hong Kong and Taiwanese students

Hin Wah CHEUNG

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

Abstract

In Asia the impact of religion on secondary students' civic and social values has received little attention; although in the West, there is a considerable literature on the topic. Grundel and Maliepaard (2012), Pike (2008), Vermeer (2010) and Gates (2006), as representatives of that literature, have shown that religion appears to have significant influence on students' citizenship development. Thus, one purpose of the current study was to explore the impact of religion on students' civic and social values in Asian contexts. Hong Kong and Taiwan, as two Asian societies with similar cultural values but different histories and political orientations, were chosen as the foci for the study. Importantly, religious bodies in each of these societies have played different roles in the provision of education services. It was assumed, therefore, that religion might exert a different effect on students in each society. This study, drawing on secondary data from the International Civics and Citizenship Study (ICCS), defined religion in terms of religious behaviour and the attitudes towards the role of religion in society. Its aim was to investigate both the direct effect of religious engagement on secondary students’ civic and social values and the indirect effect through their attitudes towards the influence of religion on society in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In addition, students’ attitudes towards the influence of religion on their society were studied for better understanding of the perception of students on the role of religion in society in relation to individual behaviour and civic and political life. A sequential mixed methods research design was adopted. The ICCS survey data were supplemented with data from samples of students who participated in focus group interviews to seek possible explanations for the quantitative results and generate new insights. The results were similar in Hong Kong and Taiwan. At the student level, both the direct effect of religious engagement and its indirect effect through the attitudes towards the influence of religion on society on students’ civic and social values were significant. It was different at the school level where both the direct and indirect effects of religious engagement were not significant. It was suggested that personal factors such as family life and religious life in church might be the explanation of differences among students and school religious engagement concentrating on personal and spiritual life development. Moreover, Hong Kong and Taiwanese students were only marginally positive to the influence of religion on society with Taiwanese students more positively than Hong Kong students. Hong Kong and Taiwanese students thought that the influence of religion concentrated on the provision of services to promote their religious doctrines rather than political life. This finding was different from Western literature suggesting that religious behaviors and attitudes in Asian societies require further study. This study has provided insights into the way Asian students’ civic and social values are influenced by religious behaviour and attitudes and its findings can contribute to both the policy and practice of citizenship education in Asia. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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Hong Kong
Religion
Values
student
citizenship
religious attitude
religious behavior
Taiwan
society
political attitude
Society
school
research planning
doctrine
education
church

Keywords

  • Social values -- China -- Hong Kong
  • Social values -- Taiwan
  • Social values -- Religious aspects
  • Civics
  • Hong Kong
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ph.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2015