Tse, S.K., Marton, F., Loh, E.K.Y., Chik, P.M.P. (2007). How can we improve students’ literacy A one-year longitudinal study on the use of a non-traditional approach to developing a Secondary 1 curriculum in Chinese language in Hong Kong [Abstract]. In Abstracts of 12th Biennial Conference for Research on Learning and Instruction, pp 322. Budapest, Hungary: University of Szeged.
Promoting students’ literacy—the ability to read and write has been one of the key foci in current curriculum reforms in Hong Kong, as in elsewhere in the world. In this paper, we examine the effectiveness of an innovative one-year curriculum on improving Secondary 1 students’ literacy in Chinese language in Hong Kong. The design of such curriculum was guided by the Theory of Variation and aimed to provide a more focused experience for students to develop their reading comprehension and their capability to express themselves in writing. Unlike the predominant practices which are text-based and focus on a great number of independent short passages or simplified literature in the Chinese language curriculum, it is based on novels, including fictions and non-fictions. Specifically, it focuses on helping students to differentiate the language application and the uses of reading skills in a wider context of fiction versus non-fiction. Students’ sharing of their own opinions and interpretations of particular episodes in the novels was also encouraged in the lessons and an on-line forum set up for their after-school discussions. The results indicated that in the three participating schools, students who underwent the new curriculum did not only score significantly higher in the language abilities test administered after the curriculum implementation, than those who did not, but their gain score ‘. These findings therefore support the conclusion that the reading of novels and contrasting various interpretations among the students in the Chinese language curriculum is an effective, if not the most effective way, in fostering students’ literacy.