Project learning as "soft" curriculum policy: Policy influences on teachers' implementation of education reforms in Hong Kong

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Abstract

After the handover, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government implemented drastic and enormous curriculum reforms, including project learning as one of the four key tasks. Over 80% of Hong Kong primary and secondary schools have adopted project learning as a curriculum task, which signifies the importance of teacher’s role and attitude in curriculum implementation. Yet the pressures on teachers and schools to achieve this result should not be underestimated. In this paper, the concept of “soft” and “hard” policy will be introduced as a means of analyzing the issues facing teachers in implementing the education reforms. “Soft” policy is characterized by persuasion, benchmarking and best practice exemplars. “Hard” policy on the other hand is explicitly embedded in legislation and budgetary allocations. This article will analyse the characteristics of project learning as a “soft” curriculum policy. It possesses features such as being practical, adaptable to context, emphasizing teaching processes, capable of being led from the classroom and is characterized by flexibility. Great emphasis is placed on conferences, seminars, sharing exemplars to promote and encourage teachers to work on this reform. On the other hand, however, the government uses “hard” means to monitor school compliance with the reforms. Thus, school self evaluation and external school evaluation are used to assess the extent to which schools are implementing curriculum innovations such as project learning. There are thus twin pressures on teachers and schools caused by the use of both “hard” and “soft” policy instruments.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2005

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Hong Kong
curriculum
reform
teacher
school
learning
education
process of teaching
teacher's role
teacher attitude
benchmarking
persuasion
evaluation
best practice
primary school
secondary school
flexibility
legislation
innovation
classroom

Citation

Fok, P.-K., Kennedy, K. J., & Chan, K.-S. J. (2005, December). Project learning as "soft" curriculum policy: Policy influences on teachers' implementation of education reforms in Hong Kong. Paper presented at Faculty of Education of CUHK 40th Anniversary International Conference: Developing Teacher Leadership and Education Partnership in the Face of Education Reform, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China.

Keywords

  • Teacher
  • Curriculum policy implemention
  • Project learning