Comparing ‘Asian Giants’: Exploring Factors that Account for Singapore and Hong Kong Students’ Academic Achievement
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Professor Kerry Kennedy
Asian students’ success in international assessments is now so well acknowledged that it is no longer regarded as remarkable. Yet understanding the reasons behind that success, especially in comparative perspective, has received less attention. Singapore and Hong Kong are ideal cases for comparison because in some ways they exhibit similarities (histories, cultures, economic development) but in other ways they are different (political structures, diversity and regional integration). Whether these macro influences have any bearing on academic achievement remains an open question. Meso-level influences such as the respective education systems, school policies and curriculum priorities certainly need consideration. Proximal influences such as parents, teachers, peers and the abilities and motivations of individual students are clearly important although how they work for individual students remains to be explored.
In this presentation, two key data sources will be used to make comparisons between Singapore and Hong Kong students’ academic achievement: PISA 2015 results and a broad theoretical literature that has attempted to explain the success of ‘the Chinese learner’. It will be argued that these multiple data sources help to throw light on both common and distinct influences across learning contexts in Singapore and Hong Kong. At the same time, the results point to a broader research agenda that is needed to understand complex issues related to learning and achievement in Asian contexts.
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The Education University of Hong Kong, the University of Johannesburg
Professor Kerry Kennedy is currently Advisor (Academic Development) and Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Citizenship and Governance at The Education University of Hong Kong as well as a Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Johannesburg. He is the Series Editor of the Routledge Series on Schools and Schooling in Asia and the Asia Europe Education Dialogue Series. His latest book is Young People and Active Citizenship in Post-Soviet Times - A Challenge for Citizenship Education co-edited with Professor Beata Krzywosz-Rynkiewicz and Professor Anna M. Zalewska. His Handbook on Schools and Schooling in Asia, co-edited with Professor John Chi kin Lee, will be published by Routledge in 2018. In 2012 he was the co-winner of the Richard M. Wolf Memorial Award for educational research presented by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.
This event is presented by The HEAD Foundation, a Singapore-based think tank devoted to research and policy influence in education and leadership, for development in Asia. Admission is free.