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A Comparative Study of School Leadership for Civic Learning in Secondary Schools in Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei

Project Scheme:
General Research Fund
Project Year:
Project Leader:
Dr WONG, Koon Lin
(Department of Education Policy and Leadership)

School principals struggle to meet their responsibility as civic leaders by preparing their students via citizenship education to navigate polarized, pluralistic societies, such as Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. 

Despite Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei 's similar cultural heritages, their regimes have produced differences in: 


  1. school leadership and policy in civic education; 
  2. teaching civics; and 
  3. student attitudes—all of which can affect civic learning (*Kennedy et al., 2016). 

Although past studies have demonstrated the effects of one or more of these mechanisms (*Kennedy et al., 2016), no published study has integrated them into a comprehensive three-level model (principal, teacher, student) and demonstrated how they account for civic learning. 


Building on past studies of school leadership and students’ civic learning, we propose and test a three-level theoretical model of civic learning. The model will take into account principals’ civic accountability and trust (Szeto, 2020) which enables teacher autonomy, self-efficacy and trust (*Wong et al., 2020), which in turn increase students’ autonomy, self-efficacy and civic learning outcomes (Knowles & McCafferty-Wright, 2015). 


This study investigates how school leaders can provide suitable policy and support to enhance civic teaching and learning. A mixed method approach, utilizing surveys and interviews with principals, teachers and students will provide the data to test our three-level civic learning model. Our study will use a sequential explanatory design to collect and analyze data in Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei. We will analyze surveys (validated by *Wong et al., 2021) from 80 principals, 320 teachers and 1200 students from 40 secondary schools in Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei (half in each). A multilevel structural equation model will test the relationships among principal leadership, teachers’ teaching and students' civic learning. We will also interview 10 principals, 20 teachers and 25 students at 10 schools and examine their leadership, teaching and learning processes via recursive, inductive and thematic analysis. Our analyses will yield three-level findings that inform a comprehensive theory of civic learning and identify principal and teacher practices that contribute to school leadership and citizenship/civic education. 


The results of this study will provide pedagogical and practical knowledge for informing professional development training for: 


  1. principals to enhance their leadership of civic education; and 
  2. teachers to enhance their civics teaching. 

We will disseminate our findings via journal articles and policy briefs to extend this line of research, inform policy makers, and stimulate a discussion among the general public.