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An analysis of the role of Hong Kong school principals in supporting the teaching of civic education

An analysis of the role of Hong Kong school principals in supporting the teaching of civic education

  • Project Leader
  • Dr WONG, Koon Lin (Department of Education Policy and Leadership) 
  • Description
  • Kennedy, Li and Chan (2015) and Kennedy and Li (2017) have shown that school-level factors (particularly principals’ roles) can influence students’ civic learning, although the results are somewhat mixed, clearly this requires further investigation. This study extends this line of research by examining how principals create school civic teaching environments and how these influence teachers in their roles as civic educators. 
  • Scheme
  • Early Career Scheme 
  • Year
  • 2018/2019 

Hong Kong citizens have contradictory views about citizenship; the pro-Beijing view emphasises strengthening nationalism and patriotic education, whereas the pro-democratic view advocates democracy, autonomy, and freedom. Consequently, Hong Kong has become a polarised society with highly divided positions. Better understanding is needed to build mutual trust through civic education. Civic education helps students learn how to navigate the complexities of living among and with differences. Teachers play an essential role in helping students understand different perspectives. Given substantial school autonomy in Hong Kong, different school leadership practices can yield different school environments for teachers, different degrees of teacher empowerment, and different civic teaching approaches. Principals can influence their school environment in civic learning and allocate resources to support civic education. Considerable attention has been given to the concept of ‘leading for learning’ (Goker, 2006) but there has been little attention given to civic learning in schools and how it might be facilitated by principals (Xu and Law, 2015). Given the volatile and uncertain external environment that students as future citizens face, civic learning must now be considered a priority. Kennedy, Li and Chan (2015) and Kennedy and Li (2017) have shown that school-level factors (particularly principals’ roles) can influence students’ civic learning, although the results are somewhat mixed, clearly this requires further investigation. This study extends this line of research by examining how principals create school civic teaching environments and how these influence teachers in their roles as civic educators. A mixed methods research design will be used and surveys and interviews employed to assess how principal leadership affects teacher autonomy and self-efficacy. Structural equation modeling will identify factors that influence civic teaching and descriptive data analyses will provide overall views and patterns of school leadership for civic teaching. Multilevel structural equation modeling will be used to assess the proposed model: A Two-level Conceptual Model of the Effects of School Leadership on Civic Teaching. Thematic analysis will identify the variables that influence school leadership for civic teaching. Content analysis will reveal principals’ and teachers’ perspectives of how school leadership affects teacher autonomy and self-efficacy. This study expands the theories of school leadership and civic education by determining the factors that affect civic teaching, and informs policy-makers and educators by identifying the kinds of civic education that would help students to understand different perspectives and build a mutually respectful society.

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