Elective Part III

Chapter 5 Assessment

5.5 Public Assessment


Field Trips and Familiarisation Visits

Field trips and familiarisation visits have many applications in different subjects, ranging from collecting specimens on an outing to reflecting on visits or tours. In THS, students have the opportunity to explore the real contexts within the tourism and hospitality industry. This calls for keen observation, mastery of concepts and skills, and accurate recording. Field trips and familiarisation visits can often contribute significantly to establishing good relations between the school and the community and can be very rewarding for students.


(c) Inclusiveness

The assessments and examinations in the HKDSE need to accommodate the full spectrum of student aptitude and ability. For THS, the public assessment comprises an external public examination based on the Compulsory Part of the curriculum and an SBA component based on the Elective Part. Both the Compulsory and Elective Parts cover knowledge, concepts, attitudes and essential generic skills required in certain sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry; and the Elective Part aims to cater for students’ aptitudes and interests, particularly by allowing them to select a topic for in-depth study.

(d) Standards-referencing

The reporting system is ‘standards-referenced’, i.e. student performance is matched against standards, which indicate what students have to know and be able to do to merit a certain level of performance.

(e) Informativeness

The HKDSE qualification and the associated assessment and examinations system should provide useful information to all parties. First, it provides feedback to students on their performance and to teachers and schools on the quality of the teaching provided. Second, it communicates to parents, tertiary institutions, employers and the public at large what students know and are able to do, in terms of how their performance compares with the standards.

Third, it facilitates selection decisions that are fair and defensible.

5.5.2 Assessment design

The assessment design is subject to continual refinement in the light of feedback. Full details are provided in the Regulations and Assessment Frameworks for the year of the examination and other supplementary documents, which are available on the HKEAA website (www.hkeaa.edu.hk/en/hkdse/assessment/assessment_framework/). The table below shows the outline of the assessment design of THS.

Component Description Weighting Duration

Public examination Paper 1 Section A: Multiple-choice

Section B: Data-based questions 37% 1¼ hours

Paper 2 Essay-type questions 48% 1¾ hours


Assessment (SBA) Three course assignments 15%


The table below shows the assessment design of the subject for the 2014 to 2016 HKDSE Examinations. The Implementation of SBA in THS will be postponed to the 2019 HKDSE Examination.

Component Weighting Duration

Public Examination

Paper 1 Section A: Multiple-choice Section B: Data-based questions

43% 1¼ hours

Paper 2 Essay-type questions 57% 1¾ hours

5.5.3 Public examinations

The overall aim of the public examination is to assess students’ ability to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding in different areas of the tourism and hospitality industry, and to apply them in a wide range of industry and service-related situations.

Various types of question – multiple-choice, data-based and essay-type – will be used.

Multiple-choice questions allow a quick, comprehensive coverage of areas in the curriculum and encourage students to develop basic knowledge in the Compulsory Part; data-based questions require students to perform various skills such as analysis and application of the data provided; and essay-type questions allow students to discuss tourism and hospitality issues in depth.

5.5.4 School-based Assessment (SBA)

In the context of public assessment, SBA refers to assessments administered in schools and marked by the students’ own teachers. The primary rationale for SBA in THS is to enhance the validity of the overall assessment by extending it to include the assessment of a range of specific and generic skills – such as skills in communication, customer services, information-processing, critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving – that can be applied in various contexts both within and beyond the tourism and hospitality industry.

The key learning outcomes to be assessed through SBA in THS are as follows:

 Demonstrating effective information-handling skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills and critical thinking skills;

 Demonstrating mastery of the basic principles of providing quality customer service;

 Identifying sustainable tourism strategies that can be used to minimise the negative and maximise the positive economic, environmental and social impact of tourism;


 Understanding the development of an event from the conceptual stage through to completion; and

 Describing and providing examples of how hospitality sectors differentiate themselves through the variety and mix of services they provide.

There are, however, some additional reasons for SBA. For example, it reduces dependence on the results of one-off examinations, which may not always provide the most reliable indication of the actual abilities of candidates. Assessments based on student performance over an extended period of time and developed by those who know the students best – their subject teachers – are more reliable.

Another reason for including SBA is to promote a positive “backwash effect” on students, teachers and school staff. Within THS, SBA can serve to motivate students by requiring them to engage in meaningful activities and for teachers it can reinforce curriculum aims and good teaching practice, and provide structure and significance to an activity in which they are already involved on a daily basis, namely assessing their own students.

The SBA of THS requires candidates to submit three course assignments according to the following specific requirements.

Course assignments take the form of news commentaries, reports on visits, brochures and leaflets/posters assigned by the subject teacher for completion in S5 and S6. Each candidate is required to submit THREE course assignments to be delivered in different modes, two of which will be based on topic areas in the Compulsory Part, while the third one based on topic areas in the Elective Part. Each course assignment carries the same weighting of 5%. The SBA of THS will carry 15 % of the final subject marks.

It should be noted that SBA is not an “add-on” element in the curriculum. The modes of SBA are normal in-class and out-of-class activities suggested in the curriculum, and therefore should not unduly increase the workload of teachers and students. The requirement to implement the SBA has taken into consideration the wide range of student ability. Detailed information on the requirements and implementation of the SBA and samples of assessment tasks are provided to teachers by the HKEAA.

Implementation of SBA in THS will be postponed to the 2019 HKDSE Examination. This will allow sufficient time for schools to get familiar with the revised curriculum and assessment arrangements as well as the conduct of the SBA.


5.5.5 Standards and the reporting of results

Standards-referenced reporting of assessments is adopted for HKDSE. What this means is that candidates’ levels of performance are reported with reference to a set of standards as defined by cut scores on the mark scale for a given subject. Standards referencing relates to the way in which results are reported and does not involve any changes in how teachers or examiners mark student work. The set of standards for a given subject can be represented diagrammatically as shown in Figure 5.1.

Figure 5.1 Defining levels of performance via cut scores on the mark scale for a given subject

Within the context of the HKDSE there will be five cut scores, which will be used to distinguish five levels of performance (1–5), with 5 being the highest. A performance below the cut score for Level 1is labelled as “Unclassified” (U).

For each of the five levels, a set of written descriptors has been developed that to describe what the typical candidate performing at this level is able to do. The principle behind these descriptors is that they describe what typical candidates can do, not what they cannot do. In other words, they describe performance in positive rather than negative terms. These descriptors represent “on-average” statements and may not apply precisely to individuals, whose performance within a subject may be variable and span two or more levels. Samples of students’ work at various levels of attainment are provided to illustrate the standards expected of them. These samples, when used together with the level descriptors, will illustrate the standards expected at the various levels of attainment.

In setting standards for the HKDSE, Levels 4 and 5 are set with reference to the standards achieved by students awarded grades A–D in the current HKALE. It needs to be stressed, however, that the intention is that the standards will remain constant over time – not the percentages awarded different levels, as these are free to vary in line with variations in overall student performance. Referencing Levels 4 and 5 to the standards associated with the

5 3

2 1

0 4

Cut scores

Mark scale


old grades A–D is important for ensuring a degree of continuity with past practice, for facilitating tertiary selection and for maintaining international recognition.

To provide finer discrimination for selection purposes, the Level 5 candidates with the best performance have their results annotated with the symbols ** and the next top group with the symbol *. The HKDSE certificate itself records the level awarded to each candidate.


In document Tourism and Hospitality Studies Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 - 6) (Page 80-86)