The role of Hong Kong schools in promoting students' future civic engagement: A mixed-method approach

Wai Chun Cherry AU

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


This study uses data from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Civic Education Study (1999) (Torney-Purta et al., 2001) and the Civic Education Study (Kennedy & Chow, 2009) to investigate the role of Hong Kong schools in promoting students’ attitudes to future civic engagement over the decade, from 1999 through 2009. A Rasch measurement approach was used to validate the Hong Kong student data from the 1999 (4997 students and 150 schools) and 2009 cohorts (602 students and 18 schools). Focus group interviews were conducted with samples of students to obtain an in-depth understanding of their attitudes to future civic engagement. The significance of the study is that the Hong Kong data for both cohorts of students have not been analyzed previously. The results demonstrate the utility of Rasch measurement for scale validation and identify changes over time in the response of Hong Kong students to the attempts of schools to promote future civic engagement. The use of qualitative interviews further explore the issues raised by the Rasch analysis of the secondary data introduced a new methodological feature to civic education studies. Chapter 1 commences with an introduction of the study. Chapter 2 provides a literature review of the theoretical basis for the IEA political socialization model, student attitudes to future civic engagement, and school-related factors in promoting future civic participation. Chapter 3 outlines the research design of the study, including the sample, measurement approaches, and analytical techniques used. The results are presented in Chapter 4. Chapter 5 discusses the findings in relation to the theoretical framework of the study, and outlines the implications for civic teachers, policy makers and the government. Rasch analysis confirmed that students in both cohorts identified future civic engagement was a multidimensional construct comprising three dimensions, namely, conventional participation (CONVEN), unconventional participation (UNCONVEN) and protest activity (PROTE). The analysis further revealed that students’ attitudes toward expected future civic engagement differed between the two cohorts. The 2009 students expected to engage more in community services. No significant gender differences were found in the 2009 cohort. To assess the effects of school variables (i.e. civic curriculum, open classroom climate and students’ perception of school participation) in promoting students’ attitudes toward future civic engagement, multi-level regression analysis was performed. A slight variation in the effects of the variables across schools was observed. Within schools, the three school variables explained the three dimensions of civic engagement at both the school and student levels for the 1999 cohort. The three school variables for the 2009 cohort only explained CONVEN and UNCONVEN at the student level. The amount of variance for the 2009 cohort was smaller than that of the 1999 cohort. Finally, the results from focus group interviews further explain the quantitative findings that were identified by Rasch measurement. Suggestions were made to civic educators to deliver a civic curriculum that includes topics on national level, and to practice democratic pedagogy. The government can also implement policies to encourage schools to develop stronger links with their communities and to implement reforms to prepare students to be active participatory citizens in the future. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • KENNEDY, Kerry John 甘國臻, Supervisor
  • MOK, Magdalena Mo Ching, Supervisor
  • LEUNG, Yan Wing, Supervisor
Award date13 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Civics, Hong Kong
  • Citizenship -- Study and teaching
  • Hong Kong
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2014


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