Classroom structures, culturally-derived values and students' motivational orientations : a comparative study of two types of primary schools in Hong Kong
At a time when policy-makers in Hong Kong are pushing for educational reforms, there seems to be an increasing interest for both the Government and parents to use success stories of our western counterparts as a point of reference in guiding reforms. The general purpose of this study was to examine the subtle interplay of factors (e.g. classroom structures, culturally-derived values, teachers' perceptions of 'what counts’ in education, students' perceptions of their learning, government policy and resources allocation etc) that might contribute to students' motivation orientations. Two primary classrooms, one from each education system (a local school and an international school in Hong Kong), were analysed. Subjects for this study were 80 students who completed a questionnaire and 20 students and 5 teachers who were interviewed individually by the researcher. They were chosen from two Key stage 2 classes in each of the two targeted schools. One specific focus of this investigation was to examine whether there were any significant differences in students' motivational orientations in the two classes of students (who came from two types of schools) studied. A second specific focus was to examine whether there were any differences in the classroom structures and practices between the two classes of students and, if so, to find out to what extent did they account for the differences in students' motivation orientation. The third specific focus was to examine the extent to which culturally derived values served to affect teachers’ interpretation of their professional values and definitions of good educational practices, which in turn defined how they structured their classroom. The last focus was to examine the extent to which culturally derived values served to affect students’ perceptions of the classroom instruction, and their definition of 'how learning should happen' in the classroom. Findings from this study could shed light on whether policy makers are heading for the right direction in education reforms.