Implementation of liberal studies as core subject in senior secondary education: From transmission of knowledge to nurturing critical thinking skills

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

Abstract

Hong Kong, a leading city of China, is a place with students having good examination results but being regarded as incapable of thinking critically. In 2005, the Education Bureau decided to make Liberal Studies as a core subject and aroused controversial debate. This change, proposing to use a core subject to nurture student critical thinking skills, is a drastic curriculum change in this society. This study, inquiring into the perceptions and practices of teachers teaching Liberal Studies, consists of two research questions. First, how do teachers perceive the aims and nature of the core subject Liberal Studies in the new curriculum? Second, how do they nurture the critical thinking habits of students in their classroom? Qualitative study was conducted to investigate teachers’ perception and practices of critical thinking in Liberal Studies. Both interview and documentary analysis are used in this study. First, the researcher interviewed five Liberal Studies teachers, who were experienced in teaching Liberal Studies. Each teacher individually attended the interview for about one hour. The researcher audio-recorded the conversation and transcribed word by word. Second, in order to follow up with interviews, teachers were invited to provide supporting materials such as teaching plan for further analysis. The study showed that a positive side in this reform. Teachers with strong perceptions for nurturing critical thinking skills of pupils were empathetic in teaching Liberal Studies. Teachers had initiated various methods to provide students opportunities to reflect on thinking and learning, which were drastically differed from traditional culture of Hong Kong. This study also showed that teachers’ perception of critical thinking skills in Liberal Studies also influences their practices in teaching the discipline. However, with the traditional pedagogical culture and examination bounded system, shifting from transmission of knowledge to nurturing critical thinking skills has a long way to go. Copyright © 2015 The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015

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secondary education
teacher
Teaching
Hong Kong
interview
student
examination system
curriculum
traditional culture
habits
pupil
conversation
classroom
reform
examination
China
learning

Citation

Fok, P. K. (2015, November). Implementation of liberal studies as core subject in senior secondary education: From transmission of knowledge to nurturing critical thinking skills. Paper presented at the第十七屆兩岸三地課程理論研討會:高中課程改革, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.

Keywords

  • Critical thinking
  • Curriculum reform
  • Teacher perception