Teaching science in the general studies curriculum

May Hung May CHENG, Wing Mui Winnie SO, Chiao Liang Joseph TSANG

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


An international comparison on students' achievement in Science and Mathematics, the third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) has shown that science achievement was much lower than mathematics achievement among the primary pupils in Hong Kong. At the time of the comparison, the pupils were taking the previous primary science curriculum. As this is the third year of the implementation of the new General Studies (GS) curriculum, it deserves a closer consideration on how the introduction of the new curriculum has influenced the quality of science education delivered. The present study aims to provide an objective portrait of primary science lessons in Hong Kong. The findings will have important implications on reflecting the quality of science education. The study consisted of both a quantitative and a qualitative part. In the quantitative part, GS teachers (N= 114) from fifteen primary schools were invited to complete a questionnaire. The teachers were asked to report on the frequencies of adopting different teaching activities in teaching science topics and their opinion on various issues concerning science education. In the qualitative part of the study, a total of 14 teachers were interviewed. How they view the introduction of the new GS curriculum and their confidence to teach science topics were discussed in the interviews. In the quantitative part of the study, the teachers reported on how they spent their time in lessons on science topics. Along the continuum from lecture only to activities only in a lesson, 37.5 % of the teachers spent an equal amount of time in lecture and activity and 40.2% of the teachers spent most of the time in lecture. These two categories account for the majority in the responses. The findings continue with a description of the occurrence of various activities in science lessons. Gathering from the figures, a preliminary portrait of science lessons in Hong Kong primary schools can be obtained. The teacher will spend much time in lecture and explanation, there will be some teacher-demonstrated experiments with occasional group discussion or group activity. However, the majority of primary pupils will rarely have a chance to perform an experiment in groups. This is a description of a lesson at the middle of the continuum from lecture to activity only. More time will be spent in lecturing or activities towards either end of the continuum with lecture only in 8.9% and activity only in 0.9% of the classrooms. The continuum is more biased towards the side with lecture only. Drawing on the findings, implications for ways to enhance the quality of science education in Hong Kong primary schools are discussed. Possible directions include conducting teacher development programmes and providing resources support for the teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1998


Cheng, M. H. M., So, W. M. W., & Tsang, C. L. J. (1998, November). Teaching science in the general studies curriculum. Paper presented at the Hong Kong Educational Research Association (HKERA) 15th Annual Conference: Quality Education Across Disciplines, Systems and Regions, Hong Kong Baptist University, China.


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