An evaluation of the new junior secondary science curriculum in Hong Kong
This thesis is a critical evaluation of the junior secondary science curriculum reform in Hong Kong. The new curriculum replaces the previous Integrated Science curriculum based on Scottish Integrated Science developed in the 1970s. This study focuses on the context of the reform, the distinctive features of the curriculum, how teachers put it into practice, and evidence of improvement in students' learning outcomes in terms of process skills, attitude toward science, and science self-concept in comparison with the old curriculum. The new curriculum is evaluated at three levels: the intended, implemented, and achieved curriculum. A multi-method design incorporating documentary analysis, planner interviews, teacher survey and interviews, quasi-experimental study and student interviews is used to collect both qualitative and quantitative data. The consistency of the findings at individual levels is critically examined, and opportunities and problems identified, leading finally to suggestions for improvement. The findings indicate that the present reform was driven by concerns to meet personal, social and educational needs in contemporary society. The new curriculum departs from the previous one by emphasizing investigation as a unifying theme which characterizes the nature of science, and by focusing on the relevance of science to our everyday lives. As claimed by the planners, a distinctive feature is the inclusion of investigations to bring together students' understanding of concepts and skills, and to further extend them in fairly open situations. The investigative approach was implemented to a limited extent and with great variations among individual teachers. Student outcomes suggest improvement was restricted to less complex process skills, and that student attitudes toward science and science curriculum deteriorated. These outcomes may be attributed to inconsistencies between planners' intentions, the curriculum design, and classroom practices. This study strongly implies that improvement should focus on bringing open investigation to a more central position in the curriculum design, and adopting a more realistic approach in teacher training, aiming to promote role shifting in teachers from a knowledge provider to a facilitator for empowering students to inquire.