Impact of secondary education reform on tertiary students’ generic competencies: A case study of associate degree freshmen in Hong Kong

Ka Wai Ng, Joseph C.H. So


This paper examines the correlation between curriculum reforms and the development of generic competencies among Hong Kong tertiary students (or secondary leavers who were admitted to Associate Degree and Higher Diploma). A total number of 3626 freshmen completed a set of self-assessment questionnaires, which were used to analyse the correlation between five generic competencies, across three academic years from 2010 to 2012. Five of the generic competencies, which were highlighted in the proposed new three-year New Senior Secondary (NSS) academic structure, were measured and compared between students from different academic backgrounds. The finding of the study indicated significantly higher scores in generic competencies for the traditional Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE) secondary school curriculum in 2012 compared to earlier cohorts, whilst in general no significant difference was found between students from the traditional curriculum and the new academic structure of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) in the mixed ‘double cohort’ year of 2012. The result points to the potential early impact of NSS on students’ generic skill development across both the old and new curriculum.


Curriculum reform Hong Kong, Senior secondary education, Generic skills, College education.

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