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Selected Development Project
Project Title Preparing Students for the New Secondary School (NSS) Liberal Studies: A School-based Approach to Enhancing Enquiry Learning at Key Stage 3
Principal Investigator Dr. LO Tin Yau, Joe
Area of Research Project
Teacher and Teaching Development
Project Period
From 9/2008 To 12/2011
  1. To enhance pedagogical repertoires and competencies of teachers in promoting enquiry-based learning at Key Stage 3;
  2. To connect Key Stage 3 curricular experiences with the New Secondary School (NSS) Liberal Studies in inquiry-based learning;
  3. To facilitate the development of learning communities among practicing teachers for promoting inquiry learning in Hong Kong; and
  4. To disseminate good practices through developing and producing curricular and pedagogical resources on enquiry-based learning in collaboration with teachers.
Methods Used
  • Diagnosis through interviews/pre-tests/document analyses;
  • Collaborative planning and trials;
  • Professional development seminars/workshops;
  • Site-based/field-based experiential learning programmes;
  • Activities and/or class observations and analyses;
  • Evaluations (post-tests) and feedback;
  • Formal/informal sharing sessions; and
  • Web-based discussions and resource-sharing platforms.
Summary of Findings
After conducting on-site school-based support in the secondary schools for 2 years, the tangible findings of the project team are as follows:
  • Teachers were eager to incorporate various modes of inquiry learning at junior secondary level in order to equip their students for NSS Liberal Studies. However, not all teachers could really understand the rationales and methods for implementing inquiry-based Liberal Studies/interdisciplinary studies.
  • Teachers could usually follow the steps/processes suggested in curriculum guides/textbooks/websites; however, they were usually too bound by the lock-step approach to consider the diverse learning abilities of the students.
  • Teachers were not comfortable with the huge amount of time, effort, and resources required for the implementation of inquiry-learning activities. Their demand for resource support was an urgent issue, especially when collective lesson preparation and project supervision were needed.
  • Teachers seemed to understand and appreciate the potential benefits of authentic/performance-based assessment through inquiry learning. However, they lacked the confidence and competence in developing appropriate and educative rubrics that could inform and improve the learning of their students in practice.
  • Most teachers did have a very vague idea of constructivist approach to inquiry learning. However, they could not effectively utilize the various types of scaffolds for that purpose. To them, scaffolds are merely meant to be cognitive instruments.
  • Participation of 60 schools (24 in 2008–2009; 36 in 2009–2010) in the project;
  • 143 teachers and 8,100 students as the direct beneficiaries of the project;
  • 1,527 on-site consultancy sessions in two and a half years;
  • 554 situation analyses/interviews (plus ¡§pre-tests¡¨ and ¡§post-tests¡¨);
  • Learning and teaching resources on the Web, with a total hit count of 28,533;
  • 39 seminars, workshops, and professional development sessions, reaching a total of 2,700 teachers from approximately 200 schools, among which the average ¡§satisfaction score¡¨ of participants¡¦ evaluations was 3.76 on a 5-point scale;
  • Facilitation of curricular reform initiatives that stress ¡§learning to learn¡¨ through ¡§inquiry-based learning¡¨ in the partner schools with the use of pedagogical devices, seminars, and resource publications; and
  • Aided teachers of the partner schools to better equip their students for the NSS Liberal Studies curriculum, thereby contributing to the curriculum interface of Key Stages 3 and 4.
Selected Publications Related to the Study
  • Lo, T. Y. (ed.) (2010) Inquiry-based Learning: Theories and Models. Hong Kong: Centre for Research in Interdisciplinary and Liberal Studies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education. (in Chinese)
  • Lo, T. Y. (ed.) (2010). Inquiry-based Learning: School-based Development and Practices, Vols. 1¡V2, Hong Kong: Centre for Research in Interdisciplinary and Liberal Studies, The Hong Kong Institute of Education. (in Chinese)
  • Lo, J. T. Y. & Po, S. C. (2009) The Development of Interdisciplinary Liberal Studies Curriculum in Hong Kong: Perspectives and Problems, International Journal of Educational Reform, Vol.18, No.3, pp. 224¡V249.
  • A Web-based platform, consisting of 120 pieces of teaching and learning resources (http://www.ied.edu.hk/usp/).
Biography of Principal Investigator
Dr. Joe Tin-yau Lo is an Associate Professor at the Department of Social Sciences. He is the former Head of the Department of Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences, and Technology (2007¡V2009); the former Head of the Department of Social Sciences (2002¡V2005); and the Head of the Centre for Research in Interdisciplinary and Liberal Studies. He has been taking active part in the professional development of in-service teachers via various on-site research and consultancy projects. He has contributed to the development of such interdisciplinary curricula as Integrated Humanities and Liberal Studies, in addition to producing instructional resources for the Key Learning Area of Personal, Social, and Humanities Education. He has published extensively in the areas of social science education, history education, General Studies, Hong Kong Studies, and China Studies.
Funding Source
Education Bureau