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Selected Development Project
Project Title

Well-being and Success for All: Mapping the Pathways of Engagement with School and Society among Immigrant, Minority and Mainstream Students in Hong Kong

Principal Investigator Dr YUEN Yuet Mui Celeste
Area of Research Project
Public Policy Research
Project Period
From 01/2015 To 12/2017
  1. To develop a culturally fair and integrated instrument for assessing the well-being of adolescents
  2. To determine the structural relationships between individual factors (cultural identity, spirituality and well-being) and contextual factors (family structures and school environments) with school and societal engagement among immigrant, minority and mainstream students in Hong Kong
  3. To map the specific pathways of well-being and engagement with school and society of diverse student groups so as to help schools work towards the promotion of an inclusive school and civic culture for all students
  4. To offer comprehensive and specific policy advice to schools and public policy sectors in order to create a more equitable society for the positive engagement of all future citizens
  5. To advance the theory of segmented and differentiated engagement in order to broaden the frameworks of school and civic engagement for diverse Asian societies
Methods Used

This study employed both quantitative questionnaire survey and qualitative case study methodologies to study the impacts of social and individual factors on academic engagement and civic engagement of Hong Kong mainstream, South Asian, Chinese Immigrant and Cross-Boundary students in Hong Kong. We first collected students’ responses via an integrated questionnaire instrument, and followed by multiple case studies to deepen our understanding of the findings. The data collection process allows us for enhanced validity, interpretation, clarification and demonstration of key findings, provides triangulation, and development beyond the standardized assessment.

Summary of Findings
  1. Girls were generally more religious, satisfied with friends, school, and teachers, and engaging with both school and society, as well as performing better in language study than boys.
  2. Secondary four to six students were less happy, satisfied with school and family than their lower forms counterparts. Also, senior students are less engaging with school and performing less well than their junior peers. In general, junior students were more positive across different domains of school engagement.
  3. Students with religious faith rated higher in spiritual health, relationships with parents, friends, and teachers, and school engagement than the non-religious students.
  4. Family background was a significant factor affecting the academic results of students in terms of Chinese, English and Mathematics.
  5. Student group difference was found across all areas. Non-Chinese speaking students indicated the highest level of satisfaction with school, family and friends. They exhibited a higher level of satisfaction with spiritual health and scored higher in English Language. By contrast, Hong Kong mainstream students rated the lowest in terms of life satisfaction, spiritual health, school engagement and societal engagement among the student groups.
  6. Our findings of the 30 project schools revealed that boys, especially the non-religious mainstream boys, are of greater risk and with negative subjective life outcomes. Their academic self-esteem and career aspirations may link with their perceived academic results and fewer life-chances.

The impacts of the study have been made via a range of channels.

  • A press conference was held on April 30, 2016 to increase social awareness of the wellbeing and engagement issues of the Chinese immigrant, South Asian and under-privileged young people in Hong Kong.
  • A few newspapers had reported our key findings and an article was accepted for publication. A newspaper article was published to transfer the knowledge into the public domain and to raise awareness.
  • A few school-based reports were delivered to the participant schools and evidence-based recommendations were made for them to appropriate their support for their students.
  • Several international refereed conference papers were presented and a few more will be presented including AERA.
  • Journal articles are under preparation for international audiences to create greater impacts of the study.
Selected Output
  1. Yuen, Y. M. C. (Accepted). Perceptions of Social Justice among the South Asian and Chinese Immigrant Youth in Hong Kong. Peabody Journal of Education.
  2. Yuen, Y. M. C., Cheung, C. K. A., & Yuen, W. W. T. (Accepted). Spiritual Health, School Engagement and Civic Engagement of Secondary Students in Hong Kong (In Chinese). Journal of Youth Studies (青年研究學報).
  3. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2016). Changing student diversity, changing cultures and changing education policies. In S. Gopinathan, & W. O. Lee., (Eds.), Making sense of education in Hong Kong since 1997: Achievements and challenges: Critical studies of Asian education (pp. 200 – 214). London & New York: Routledge.
  4. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2016, 11 April). 青少年的整全健康與社會參與. Teachers Blog. RTHK. Retrieved from http://www.liberalstudies.hk/blog/ls_blog.php?id=2824
  5. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2016, 1 March). 關注香港青少年的靈性健康, Sing Tao Daily, F03.
International Refereed Conference Papers Accepted for Presentation
  1. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2017, 7 – 9 June). Understanding School Engagement of Immigrant, Ethnic Minority and Underprivileged Mainstream Youth in Hong Kong. Paper accepted to be presented at European Networks for Social and Emotional Competence (ENSEC). Örebro University, Sweden.
  2. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2017, 26 April – 1 May). Mapping the pathways of spiritual health and engagement with school and society of underprivileged mainstream and minority youth in Hong Kong. Paper accepted to be presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting 2017. San Antonia, Taxes, U.S.A.
  3. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2016, 11 – 13 July). Well-being and engagement with school and society among secondary students in Hong Kong. Paper presented at CIEAE 2016 (the II International Congress Students Engagement in School: Perspectives of Psychology and Education – Motivation for Academic Performance). University of Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal.
  4. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2016, 8 – 12 April). The relationship between school engagement and civic beliefs and behaviours of young Hong Kong people. Paper presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting 2016. Washington D.C., U.S.A.
  5. Yuen, Y. M. C. (2016, 10 – 11 March). Well-being and Success for All: Promoting Positive Engagement with School and Society among Immigrant, Minority and Mainstream Students in Hong Kong. Paper presented at Symposium: Reframing Teacher Education for Learning Equity. Organized by The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, Australia.

    Photo 1: The research team, from the left: Dr Timothy Yuen, Dr Celeste Yuen and Prof Alan Cheung, hosted a press conference to disseminate the key findings of the GRF project, and to transfer the knowledge to the general public (2016, 7 June).

Photo 2: At the press conference, principal investigator Dr Celeste Yuen offered her insights into the differentiated levels of life satisfaction and student engagement with school and society across student groups (2016, 7 June)

Figure 1: Samples of Newspaper Reports on the Research Findings (2016, 8 June)

Biography of Principal Investigator

Celeste Y.M. Yuen is Associate Head and Associate Professor in the Department of Education Policy and Leadership, the Education University of Hong Kong. Her research niche concerns mixed-method empirical studies on Chinese immigrant and South Asian minority education, youth studies, spiritual health and student engagement. She has published widely on these related areas. Her research scholarship in minority studies has been recognized locally and internationally and has led her to win 18 projects funded by, for example, the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, Education Bureau, Oxfam Hong Kong and HSBC, in each case as principal investigator. Her active international engagement has included collaboration with the University of Newcastle (Australia), University of Bath Spa (U.K), and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) on behalf of EdUHK as part of the research agenda for Global Learning Equity Network. Prior to that, she was a Hong Kong partner of a UK-based project funded by the Society for Research in High Education (SRHE) with colleagues from the University of Hull (UK). Her research findings have contributed to public policy debates, pedagogical practice and teacher professional development. In addition, she develops, coordinates and lectures courses related to her research agenda at both post-graduate and under-graduate levels. She oversees Ed.D. (Educational Leadership and Management) area specialization and student admissions.

Funding Source

General Research Fund