Proposing a criterion- and standard-based assessment framework for Cantonese operatic singing with the application of the new Bloom’s Taxonomy


Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Cantonese opera (known as Yueju 粵劇) is one of the Chinese music traditions that has been recorded on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanities (2009), which is popular around the world and especially in its heartlands of south China: Guangdong and Guangxi Province, Hong Kong, and Macau. For decades, the transmission of Cantonese opera has faced considerable challenges within a rapidly developing contemporary society. Although teaching traditional art forms in schools and in the community has proven an effective way of ensuring the transmission of traditional culture, due to an absence of research in this specific area, the lack of valid assessment constrains both education and popularity among the younger generation. Based on a holistic theoretical framework stemmed from the revised Bloom’s taxonomy and adopting a user-centered design approach, the primary purpose of this study is to propose a criterion- and standard-based assessment framework for teacher reference that supports the education and transmission of this traditional genre. Four research questions guide this study: 1) What are the design and practices of the existing graded examinations of Chinese opera? 2) For the sake of transmission and education, how can an ideal assessment framework for Cantonese operatic singing be formulated? 3) What is common practice in assessments of Cantonese operatic singing? and 4) To what extent does the proposed assessment framework facilitate the teaching and learning of Cantonese operatic singing?

The study consists of two phases. Phase I is divided into three parts. In the first part, the design and practices of two relevant assessment systems of Xiqu (戲曲 literally “theatre and music”) were analyzed, to identify common components, assessment focus, and potential issues in the two existing public Xiqu graded examinations. In the second part, six eminent Cantonese opera experts from Guangdong Province and Hong Kong were interviewed in a semi-structured setting to gather their views on common practice within Cantonese operatic singing assessment concerning the graded examinations. Another purpose of the semi-structured interview was to collect information to use in the formulation of an ideal assessment framework for Cantonese operatic singing concerning transmission and education. Finally, based on the findings of the previous two parts and the theoretical framework of the study, a criterion- and standard-based assessment framework is noted, from which assessment rubrics for four domains of Cantonese operatic singing are formulated. Phase II is an exploratory study comprised of a series of assessment trials and subsequent semi-structured interviews as an evaluation. Three teachers were invited to use the assessment rubrics to evaluate their students. Adopting stratified sampling, students from six categories: top students, average students, and underachievers in senior and junior grades were selected according to their daily academic performances to serve as assessment subjects in the exploratory study. Subsequently, another round of semi-structured interviews was conducted with each of the four participant teachers and 18 of the participant students to investigate to what extent the proposed assessment framework facilitated the teaching and learning of Cantonese operatic singing and what, if any, functional or practical problems remained to be solved.

The findings of contents analysis reflected that the design of the existing graded examinations in Xiqu is still developing. A common practice in the existing graded examinations of Chinese opera features: 1) dependence on subjective perception, rather than criterion- and standard-based assessment, 2) a focus on the assessment of performance skills and a lack of multidimensionality, and 3) an inclination to momentary judgment and a lack of sustainability. Therefore, the thematic analysis in Phase I suggests that: 1) the proposed assessment framework should concentrate on student learning, 2) a criterion- and stand-based system should be employed, and 3) five supporting measures during the formulation. The findings of the thematic analysis in Phase II indicated that the characteristics of traditional assessments made during daily teaching and learning in Cantonese operatic singing are marked by: 1) opaqueness, 2) factitious scoring, 3) oral assessment, 4) incompleteness and non-normativity 5) generalization and implicitness, 6) a lack of objectivity and fairness, and 7) a lack of instructiveness. It was concluded that the new framework contributed to better assessments, which were 1) instructive and efficient 2) easy to start and user-friendly, 3) detailed and well-rounded, 4) normative and systematic, 5) clear, 6) documentable, 7) objective and fair, 8) transparent, 8) focused on process as well as scores, and 9) convincing.

By establishing a criterion- and evidence-based assessment framework, this study strives to set a blueprint for concrete assessment settings in the education and transmission of Cantonese operatic singing that helps ensure consistency, conservation, and vitality within an increasingly accountability-driven educational environment and the assessment-oriented world, which may further contribute to the inheritance, popularization, and development of this traditional art form. The evidence-based assessment may also help develop the concepts of teachers who have previously employed abstract assessment and enhance the quality of traditional music education. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • LEUNG, Bo Wah 梁寶華, Supervisor
  • YANG, Yang 楊陽, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Cantonese opera
  • Assessment
  • Transmission
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • Chinese Xiqu
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2021.


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