School-Based Project Learning

Trend of Development

The Education Bureau in Hong Kong has named project learning as one of the four essential elements of curricular reform; an ‘Integrated Learning Period’ has been made mandatory for students from P3 onwards.  On the other side of the globe, under the influence of Dewey’s philosophy of education, the United States places at the core of their curricula the relationship between school and society, the relationship between education and real life, and the self-directed enquiry learning experience of students.  Moving over to Europe, educationalists in France view research-based learning as a ‘guided personal actualization activity’.  As for the Mainland, an ‘Integrated Experiential Activities Module’ has been added to the Foundational Curricula as a compulsory subject which has four elements comprising research-based learning, labour technology education, community services, and social experience.

Characteristics (Extracted from霍益萍:研究性學習)

The overall objective of project learning is to steer the students to a new way of learning which emphasizes active enquiry and creative experience and focuses on knowledge and skills that the students will find useful for the rest of their lives.  Broadly speaking, project learning can be viewed as a learning philosophy, learning tactic and method applicable to all subjects and disciplines; in a narrower sense, it can be established as an individual subject, with the following characteristics:


  • Project titles (problems) are the embodiment and agent of the learning experience.  The whole subject revolves around designing learning activities through the identification and resolution of problems, stressing throughout the functions and applications of knowledge.
  • Project learning maintains an open mode of learning, encompassing not only the learning venues, contents, styles and channels, but also the open-ended mode of thinking.
  • Students are held accountable for the completion of the project, echoing the concept of autonomous and enquiry learning .
  • The learning process is as important as the learning results, especially for the research methods adopted by the students and their experience of and reflections on the learning process.

Project learning does not replace teaching.  Without the skills and knowledge imparted through teaching, students attempting project learning would merely be drinking from an arid well.  More correctly, project learning should be viewed as the time and space dedicated to students’ autonomous learning within the purview of a rigorous curriculum.  Furthermore, project learning is not merely an activity class aimed at enhancing motivation of learning; it instead represents a fundamental shift in learning mode, following a new learning sequence characterized by these steps: problem identification, data gathering, hypothesis testing, problem analysis and delineation, leading finally to a resolution or resolutions

Principles of the Implementation Plan for School-Based Project Learning

  • To develop cross-disciplinary collaboration on the basis of the existing project learning themes and activities of individual subjects.
  • With the participation by the entire teaching staff, division of responsibilities will be decided on by central management.
  • To train students in the project learning content, skills and research methods on a planned and phase-by-phase basis.
  • To leverage upon external resources – including guidance from tertiary institutions, external competitions and participation of parents.
  • To mediate between public examination requirements and the school-based implementation plan, promote quality not quantity, and avoid redundancies.
  • To integrate with the other three major elements of curricular reform: ‘Reading to Learn’, ‘Moral and Civic Education’ and ‘Information Technology for Interactive Learning’.
  • Teaching staff should organize regular professional exchange sessions, review teaching performance and embark in continuous professional development; a set of unified standards on project learning should emerge over time.

Preliminary Implementation Plan

Project learning is an issues- and problem-based approach to learning. It is another major initiative requiring cross-disciplinary collaboration after the English Bridging Programme and Modular Curriculum Integration.  One to two project themes will be set up for junior forms and along such themes several key learning streams will be developed which enable the students to acquire some useful skills.  The collaboration among different disciplines will be strengthened; for a given project theme, different subject departments can take up the roles of instruction and assessment.  Such collaboration model will be tentatively administered by the Curriculum Development and Administrative Committee.  Before the New Senior Secondary Curricula and the corresponding assessment framework are confirmed, the development of project learning in the short-term will be geared towards existing public examinations.  The development of in-depth research methods and the organization of large-scale study tours will be centrally administered.


Form Subject Theme Knowledge / Skills / Affection / Attitude Teaching Focus
F1 Chinese Drama Speech, scriptwriting, acting Speech, scriptwriting
Maths Mathematical problems (out of teaching syllabus) Problem solving process
Expressive process
Problem solving, analytical skills, expression, modeling
Liberal Studies 1. My autobiography Gathering useful data, employing appropriate means of communication Providing guidance, introducing reporting formats
2. The legend of Hong Kong On-site inspection, word processing Points to note for on-site inspection
Maths / Liberal Studies Questionnaire design
  • questionnaire design, question setting
  • statistical data manipulation – frequency distribution, estimation, sampling
  • data analysis(bivariate analysis)
Syllabus content
Design of simple questionnaires
F2 Chinese Study tours Route map – multi-angled observation while walking  
Maths Reading, outdoor activities sin, cos, tan; applied measurements Syllabus content
Liberal Studies 1. Socio-political figures Yearly timeline, stages of life, personality analysis, assessment (word processing) Data manipulation and analysis
2. China’s population Word processing Paragraphing, conclusion
D & T
Making water rocket
  • Newton's Third Law
  • Law of conservation of momentum
  • Relationship between launch angle and range of trajectory
  • Equations of motion
  • Flight angle
  • Teacher will state the important points to note
  • Students will proceed to make the water rocket by following instructions
  • Teacher will provide the materials required.
  • Students must build the water rocket according to preset instructions
F3 Chinese Character profile
  • Observation, personality analysis
  • Interviewing, summary/précis, witnessing
  • Summary skills
  • Interviewing/questioning skills
  • Letters ofinvitation
Maths Critique on newspaper articles – Statistical figures Introduction to statistical charts Self-learning, syllabus content
Maths leaflet design (F1–F4) Data manipulation Self-learning
Social Studies Multi-disciplinary projects Collaboration, data collection (questionnaires, observation, interviews), data manipulation and analysis, presentation (Powerpoint) PIPOE
Integrated Science Making solar furnace Knowledge: Heat conduction Experience: Real-life experience

Skills: Scientific investigation, operation of equipment, collaboration, analysis, communicative review Attitudes: Devotion, respect, collaboration, pursuit of excellence

Affection: A deeperunderstanding of the real-life applications of science.
  • Learning how to make use of naturally available resources around us; students will be given a number of periods to design, test, and improve their own products, thereby enriching their learning experience.
  • Fostering in students a sense of devotion for the pursuit of better results or outcomes
Visual Arts Clay animation Knowledge: Getting to know the nature and making of animation, and operation of animation software

Experience: Handicraft experience with clay

Skills: Sculpting 3-D objects, grasping the nature of clay

Attitudes: Sense of devotion, collaboration

Affection: Distinctive themes brought out by story content
Miscellaneous: Exploration of the collaborative experience of D & T, Computer Studies and Art
  • The rationale and process of developing an animation from a 3-D object
  • Drafting story outline, gathering data, character design, layout, cinematography, computer production
  • Training students’ creativity, organizing ability, collaboration and the ability to turn imagination into reality
Biology Study of ecological systems (5-day-4-night ecological camp) To study the different ecological environments in Hong Kong via field trips, whereby the students experience first hand the methods for researching into ecological systems and the ways to explore how the environmental factors affect the distribution of living organisms The field trip experience will provide the students with adequate learning time outside classroom, thereby enriching their learning experience
F6   Mainland socio-cultural tour Observation, interviewing, use of questionnaires, oral and written reports, reading, analysis, collaboration in small groups, Putonghua; reflecting on the relationships between oneself and the society in the Mainland, and that between oneself and our country Oral interviews, data manipulation, data analysis, presentation; encourages the interpretation of reality through the subject knowledge acquired

Please see the following links for the exemplars of project learning at Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary School:

Culture Tour
A very comprehensive and detail introduction of project from CUHK
How to write a report for project
An article from Li Tze Kin

Yan Oi Tong Tin Ka Ping Secondary SchoolTel : 2464 3731Fax : 2464 3243
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