The cluster model for conducting Learning Study for minor subjects in schools. By Yiu-chi LAI and Tak-wah WONG
Department of Mathematics, Science, Social Sciences and Technology The Hong Kong Institute of Education
We can observe that “Learning Study” becomes more and more popular in Hong Kong. Many educators agree that it can help to make teaching and learning more effective and is a feasible way for staff development. However, due to limited resources, most schools can only start their studies from core subjects like languages and mathematics. As a result, we can hardly find adequate references for subjects involving fewer teachers in a school. In fact, we know little about the procedure and the benefits for conducting Learning Study for minor subjects in schools. In this paper, we used a case study on junior form Computer Literacy to explore and highlight the problems encountered in the research. We hope we can share our experience in using the cluster model for conducting Learning Study for minor subjects with teachers.
In recent years, a lot of new initiatives have been introduced in schools in Hong Kong,
for examples, learning to learn, project learning, life-long learning, using IT in
education. However, the outcomes of most new initiatives are controversial and
difficult to observe in real classroom. Lo (2004) concluded that those educational
reforms only have little substantial effects on students’ learning. Under these
circumstances, there is a demand for shifting the focus on actual classroom practice.
We can observe that “Learning Study” becomes more and more popular in Hong
Kong. Many educators agree that it can help to make teaching and learning more
effective and is a feasible way for staff development.
What is Learning Study?
“Learning Study” is the Hong Kong version of “Lesson Study” (Lo, 2004). In Hong
Kong, Leaning Study has gained huge support from the government and becomes a
powerful means for improving teaching and learning in the classroom as well as staff
development. Learning study was first introduced to two primary schools and a
total of twenty-nine learning studies were developed for different topics in four
subjects areas of Chinese language, mathematics, general studies, and English
language in three academic years (2000/2001, 2001/2002, 2002/2003). Learning
Study attracted support from various funding sources. Through the Quality Education
Fund supported Secondary Teaching, Evaluation and Mentoring Project (STEM) of
the Hong Kong Institute of Education,
five Key Learning Areas at secondary level: mathematics, science, technology,
physical education, arts. An ongoing government-supported research project
“Variation for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning” (2004-07), of the Hong
Kong Institute of Education will support 120 Learning Studies at both primary and
secondary levels in total. (Lo et al, 2005 ). Lesson Study is a kind of Action Research.
Lo, Pong and Ko (2005) stated that the idea of “Learning Study” originates from and
is inspired by the tradition of Chinese and Japanese teachers in conducting systematic
and in-depth investigations into their own lessons. However, they also pointed out that
Learning Study is not the same as Lesson Study as described by Stingler and Hiebert
(1999). In fact, it is grounded on the theory of variations (Marton & Booth, 1997).
Learning Studies have been carried out in
Conceptual Framework of Learning Study
By examining the theoretical underpinnings of Learning Study, we will understand
why it should be differentiated from the Japanese Lesson Study. Lo, Pong and Ko
(2005) argued that the primary focus of Learning Study is on an object of learning, the
Theory of Variation is used as a guide to achieve the object of learning, employing
appropriate teaching methods. In fact, Lo (2004) also pointed out...