Learning and teaching resources should not be treated simply as collections of information and facts to be memorised. They should become objects for critical analysis and evaluation, as they are derived from their different ideological backgrounds, views and values, and therefore may exhibit the authors’ biases.
6.2 Guiding Principles
The following are some basic considerations in the selection of learning and teaching resources:
They should be in line with the curriculum aims and contain core elements of the curriculum.
They should arouse students’ interest, motivate them to engage actively in learning tasks and promote higher-order thinking.
The choice of materials should take into account students’ prior knowledge and experiences; and they should provide access to knowledge, as well as scaffolding, to help students progress in their learning.
They should cater for students’ individual differences by providing a variety of learning activities at different levels of difficulty.
The language used should be of a good standard and at a suitable level of difficulty to encourage independent reading and the construction of meaning by learners.
They should present information and ideas accurately and effectively.
They should promote independent learning by complementing and extending what students have learned in class.
They should promote discussion and further enquiry.
They should foster positive values and attitudes.
They should be affordable in terms of cost and the time and effort required to prepare or acquire them.
6.3 Commonly Used Resources
Textbooks are one of many tools to bring about learning, but they should not be regarded as the curriculum itself. Teachers should exercise their professional judgement in choosing high quality textbooks which allow students to achieve the learning objectives of the curriculum.
Teachers are expected to select relevant textbook materials which cover at least the basic elements, and then decide on the use of supplementary resources to support student learning.
In both cases, they should meet students’ varied needs and abilities.
Noted below are some tools developed by the EMB to help in the selection of textbooks and other learning and teaching resources.
Recommended Textbook List
Guiding Principles for Quality Textbooks
Notes on Selection of Textbooks and Learning Materials for Use in Schools
(http://www.emb.gov.hk/; then ＞ Kindergarten, Primary and Secondary Education ＞ Curriculum Development＞Textbook Information)
Suggested checklist for ERS textbook selection 1. Content and presentation
Is the textbook part of a series, and if so, would using the entire series be appropriate?
Does the textbook suit the interests and ability of students and background of school?
Does the textbook have a helpful layout, design, and organisation?
Is the textbook sensitive to the religious and cultural background and interests of the students?
Is the writing style interesting and engaging, while also applying the specific concepts, language and terminology of Ethics and Religious Studies?
Does the suggested instructional sequence take into account the prior knowledge and experience of students in my school?
Are the skills promoted in the textbook appropriate for the learners?
Does the textbook provide learners with adequate guidance to acquire these skills?
Do the skills presented in the textbook include a wide range of cognitive skills to challenge students to think?
3. Exercises and activities
Do the exercises and activities in the textbook fit the needs of students in my school?
Do the exercises and activities reinforce what students have already learned and involve progression from the more simple to the more complex?
Are the exercises and activities varied in format so that they will motivate and challenge learners?
4. Organisation and format
Do the background materials provide sufficient content-focused information for the study of Ethics and Religious Studies?
Do they provide sufficient information and strategies for students of varied ability?
Are the directions for conducting and presenting lessons, experiential learning activities and other explorations clear and easy to follow?
Are the print materials for the students well written, logical and compelling in content?
Is the overall readability level of the materials appropriate for learners in my school?
6.3.2 Reference materials
The following resources – reference books, journals, policy papers, speeches, reports and documents, surveys, book reviews, newspaper clippings, maps, pictures, cartoons, drawings and slogans – are powerful tools for bringing authentic ethics and religious concerns and problems into the classroom. They can help students see the relevance of what they are learning, and help them achieve a wider understanding of issues.
6.3.3 Technology and web-based resources
The massive increase in the quantity of information available on the Internet has led to the adoption of new approaches to learning and teaching. Teachers can act as facilitators of learning by helping students search for information and work on it in order to turn it into personal knowledge. The strategic use of information technology (IT), with appropriate guidance, enhances student engagement, increases the amount of information that can be accessed and makes learning more convenient.
Technologies help the learning of ERS by:
providing audio-visual aids for understanding difficult concepts;
providing access to large quantities of information from a wide variety of sources;
allowing students to work at their own pace, and enabling the use of specially designed software;
supporting interaction between the learners, resources and teachers, and collaboration between learners and teachers; and
facilitating the acquisition of information, the development of critical thinking and knowledge-building.
The use of IT in ERS provides an instant, global platform for the exchange of different ethical and religious values, views and opinions. The interaction and discussion generated are no longer confined to any locality or religious group. Exposure to a multiplicity of beliefs and perceptions is highly beneficial for the learning and teaching of the subject.
The information gathered through IT should, however, be treated with care. Teachers and students need to be aware that information on websites, chat groups, web journals (“blogs”) etc. may be culturally or religiously biased, partial or even false. The validity and reliability of any claims should be checked and substantiated by using other sources of information and evidence.
6.3.4 Mass media
As with IT, the media are a very important source of information and a stimulus for teachers and students engaging in the enquiry process. In many respects, the media are also instant and global, and they articulate different ethical and religious traditions, values and opinions which are very valuable for studying ERS. Non-textual materials from the media can help to increase the motivation and learning effectiveness of students with different learning styles.
Again, it has to be pointed out that the messages embedded in information provided by the mass media need to be carefully decoded. Students should be guided to take into account the possible bias of media organisations when judging the accuracy of the information presented.
The information provided should never be treated as facts per se.
6.3.5 Community resources
A spirit of partnership is necessary among the many parties who contribute in different ways to helping our students learn effectively.
Religious and social organisations
The richness of the religious traditions in our society provides many opportunities for authentic learning outside the classroom. There are numerous religious, cultural and social organisations such as theological seminaries, Sangha colleges and scholarly societies which can provide relevant resources for the ERS curriculum. They are particularly helpful in providing experiential learning activities. Visiting places of worship such as cathedrals, churches, temples, mosques and synagogues, celebrating religious festivals and observing religious rituals or ceremonies are all valuable experiences which give teachers and students insights into different religious beliefs and practices.
The family and neighbours
Grandparents, parents, family members, other relatives and neighbours can provide valuable resources to support the learning and teaching of this curriculum. Their diversity in ethical views, religious standpoints and personal convictions can contribute to widening students’
horizons and enhancing their religious sensitivity.
Religious leaders and believers
Religious leaders and believers can be promising sources of support for the learning and teaching of ERS. Religious leaders such as priests, monks and vicars can often be seen on the TV news or religious programmes; and they can be reached easily in cathedrals, churches and temples on special days. Schools can solicit their help by inviting them to share religious insights, deliver talks and meet with students. Interviewing or visiting religious leaders and believers can provide students with valuable information and learning experiences.
6.4 Flexible Use of Learning and Teaching Resources
6.4.1 Fitness for purpose
The resources used should be fit for purpose. For example, in designing a role-play, background information on the parties involved and the selected scenario should be provided.
Such information may be given to students in the form of newspaper clippings, video clips or role-specification sheets written by the teacher. Good reading materials should be made available to students to promote “Reading to learn”; and in organising life-wide learning activities, suitable community resources such as museums and non-government organisations should be explored.
6.4.2 Catering for learner diversity
The resources selected should meet the varied needs and learning styles of students, for instance, some students may respond well to textual information, others to visual representation, and yet others to resources in other formats. Using a variety of types of resources can help to develop different cognitive faculties.
6.5 Resource Management
A spirit of partnership is necessary for resource and knowledge management. Schools should make arrangements for:
teachers and students to share learning and teaching resources through the Intranet or other means within the school; and
teachers to evaluate on the resources used, and form professional groups for the exchange of experience.
A regularly updated resource bank covering the curriculum of ERS is a very important tool for effective learning and teaching. It has to be built up and maintained by the joint effort of teachers. It should also involve students, who can suggest good resources that they have found. Students’ good work (especially their experiential learning portfolios) can also be a valuable resource for other students.
Term Description Applied Learning (ApL,
formerly known as Career-oriented Studies)
Applied Learning (ApL, formerly known as Career-oriented Studies) is an essential component of the senior secondary curriculum. ApL uses broad professional and vocational fields as the learning platform, developing students’
foundation skills, thinking skills, people skills, values &
attitudes and career-related competencies, to prepare them for further studies and / or for work as well as for lifelong learning. ApL courses complement 24 senior secondary subjects, diversifying the senior secondary curriculum.
Co-construction Different from the direct instruction and construction approaches to learning and teaching, the co-construction approach emphasises the class as a community of learners who contribute collectively to the creation of knowledge and the building of criteria for judging such knowledge.
Core subjects Subjects recommended for all students to take at senior secondary level: Chinese Language, English Language, Mathematics and Liberal Studies.
Curriculum and Assessment (C&A) Guide
A guide prepared by the CDC-HKEAA Committee. It embraces curriculum aims / objectives / contents and learning outcomes, and assessment guidelines.
Curriculum interface Curriculum interface refers to the interface between the different key stages/educational stages of the school curriculum (including individual subjects), e.g. the interface between Kindergarten and Primary; Primary and Secondary;
and Junior Secondary and senior secondary. The Hong Kong school curriculum, made up of eight key learning areas (under which specific subjects are categorised), provides a coherent learning framework to enhance students’
capabilities for whole-person development through engaging them in the five essential learning experiences and helping them develop the nine generic skills as well as positive values and attitudes. Thus when students move on to senior secondary education, they will already have developed the basic knowledge and skills that the study of various subjects requires. When designing the learning and teaching content and strategies, teachers should build on the knowledge and learning experiences students have gained in the previous key stages.
Term Description Elective subjects A total of 20 subjects in the proposed new system from
which students may choose according to their interests, abilities and aptitudes.
Experiential learning Experiential learning is a student-oriented learning mode which enables learning by doing. In the process of experiential learning, students learn through a series of carefully designed activities. Students are encouraged to observe, think, analyse, synthesise, evaluate their experiences, and apply what they’ve learnt in their daily life.
Generic skills Generic skills are skills, abilities and attributes which are fundamental in helping students to acquire, construct and apply knowledge. They are developed through the learning and teaching that take place in different subjects or key learning areas, and are transferable to different learning situations. Nine types of generic skills are identified in the Hong Kong school curriculum, i.e. collaboration skills, communication skills, creativity, critical thinking skills, information technology skills, numeracy skills, problem solving skills, self-management skills and study skills.
Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE)
The qualification to be awarded to students after completing the three-year senior secondary curriculum and taking the public assessment.
Internal assessment This refers to the assessment activities that are conducted regularly in school to assess students’ performance in learning. Internal assessment is an inseparable part of the learning and teaching process, and it aims to make learning more effective. With the information that internal assessment provides, teachers will be able to understand students’ progress in learning, provide them with appropriate feedback and make any adjustments to the learning objectives and teaching strategies they deem necessary.
Key Learning Area (KLA) Organisation of the school curriculum structured around fundamental concepts of major knowledge domains. It aims at providing a broad, balanced and coherent curriculum for all students in the essential learning experiences. The Hong Kong curriculum has eight KLAs, namely, Chinese Language Education, English Language Education, Mathematics Education, Personal, Social and Humanities Education, Science Education, Technology Education, Arts Education and Physical Education.
Term Description Knowledge construction This refers to the process of learning in which learners are
involved not only in acquiring new knowledge, but also in actively relating it to their prior knowledge and experience so as to create and form their own knowledge.
Learner diversity Students are individuals with varied family, social, economic and cultural backgrounds and learning experience.
They have different talents, personalities, intelligence and interests. Their learning abilities, interests and styles are, therefore, diverse.
Learning community A learning community refers to a group of people who have shared values and goals, and who work closely together to generate knowledge and create new ways of learning through active participation, collaboration and reflection.
Such a learning community may involve not only students and teachers, but also parents and other parties in the community.
Learning differences This refers to the gaps in learning that exist in the learning process. Catering for learning differences does not mean rigidly reducing the distance between the learners in terms of progress and development but making full use of their different talents as invaluable resources to facilitate learning and teaching. To cater to learners’ varied needs and abilities, it is important that flexibility be built into the learning and teaching process to help them recognise their unique talents and to provide ample opportunities to encourage them to fulfil their potential and strive for achievement.
Learning outcomes Learning outcomes refer to what learners should be able to do by the end of a particular stage of learning. Learning outcomes are developed based on the learning targets and objectives of the curriculum for the purpose of evaluating learning effectiveness. Learning outcomes also describe the levels of performance that learners should attain after completing a particular key stage of learning and serve as a tool for promoting learning and teaching.
Level descriptors A set of written descriptions that describe what the typical candidates performing a certain level is able to do in public assessments.
Term Description Other learning experiences For whole person development of students, ‘Other Learning
Experiences’ (OLE) is one of the three components that complement the examination subjects and Applied Learning (formerly named as Career-oriented Studies) under the senior secondary curriculum. It includes Moral and Civic Education, Aesthetics Development, Physical Development, Community Service and Career-related Experiences.
Public assessment The associated assessment and examination system for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education.
SBA Moderation Mechanism
The mechanism adopted by HKEAA to adjust SBA marks submitted by schools to iron out possible differences across schools in marking standards and without affecting the rank order determined by the school.
School-based assessment (SBA)
Assessments administered in schools as part of the teaching and learning process, with students being assessed by their subject teachers. Marks awarded will count towards students’ public assessment results.
School-based curriculum Schools and teachers are encouraged to adapt the central curriculum to develop their school-based curriculum to help their students achieve the subject targets and overall aims of education. Measures may include readjusting the learning targets, varying the organisation of contents, adding optional studies and adapting learning, teaching and assessment strategies. A school-based curriculum, hence, is the outcome of a balance between official recommendations and the autonomy of the schools and teachers.
Candidates’ performance in public assessment is reported in terms of levels of performance matched against a set of standards.
Student learning profile It is to provide supplementary information on the secondary school leavers’ participation and specialties during senior secondary years, in addition to their academic performance as reported in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education, including the assessment results for Applied Learning courses, thus giving a fuller picture of the student’s whole person development.
Values & attitudes Values constitute the foundation of the attitudes and beliefs that influence one’s behaviour and way of life. They help
Term Description form principles underlying human conduct and critical
judgment, and are qualities that learners should develop.
Some examples of values are rights and responsibilities, commitment, honesty and national identity. Closely associated with values are attitudes. The latter supports motivation and cognitive functioning, and affects one’s way of reacting to events or situations. Since both values and attitudes significantly affect the way a student learns, they form an important part of the school curriculum.
References for Teachers
Assessment Reform Group. (1999). Assessment for learning: Beyond the black box.
Cambridge: University of Cambridge School of Education.
Benson, P. L., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. (1993). Beyond leaf ranking: Learning to serve / serving to learn. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
Biggs, J., & Watkins, D. (Eds.) (2001). Teaching the Chinese learner: Psychological and pedagogical perspectives. Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Center.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998a). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education, 5(1), 7-74.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998b). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139-148.
Blenkin, G. M., Edwards, G., & Kelly, A.V. (1992). Change and the curriculum. London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd.
Boekaerts, M. (2002). Motivation to learn. Retrieved March 8, 2006, from
http://www.ibe.unesco.org/publications/EducationalPracticesSeriesPdf/prac10e.pdf Broadbent, L., & Brown, A. (Eds.). (2002). Issues in religious education. London:
Brophy, J. Teaching. Retrieved March 8, 2006, from
http://www.ibe.unesco.org/publications/EducationalPracticesSeriesPdf/prac01e.pdf Curriculum Council of Western Australia. (2004). Syllabus and additional subject
information: Vol. VIII beliefs and values (Year 11-12) 2004-2005. Western Australia:
Curriculum Development Council. (1998). Syllabuses for secondary schools: Religious studies (Christianity) - secondary 4 - 5. Hong Kong: The Curriculum Development Council.
Curriculum Development Council. (2001a). Ethics and religious studies curriculum guide (Advanced supplementary level). Hong Kong: The Curriculum Development Council.