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Comparing perceived learning experiences of two concurrent cohorts under curriculum reform in Hong Kong: A multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis approach

Yue Zhao (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Jenny M.Y. Huen (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Michael Prosser (The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China and the University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia and the University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia)

Quality Assurance in Education

ISSN: 0968-4883

Article publication date: 3 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Hong Kong has undergone extensive curriculum reform and shifted from a three-year to a four-year university system. With a nuanced look at the impact of the curriculum reform, the purpose of the present study was to compare two concurrent cohorts by examining the extent to which the students in each cohort perceived their learning environment and learning outcomes differently and to what extent their perceptions differed.

Design/methodology/approach

A sample of 3,102 first-year students enrolled at a Hong Kong university responded to the student learning experience questionnaire (SLEQ). The perceived learning experiences between the two cohorts were tapped through several latent factors and validated through tests of measurement invariance. Latent mean differences were then compared. A multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis approach was used.

Findings

The findings suggested that measurement invariance of the scales of the SLEQ was established and that the two cohorts of students perceived largely similar learning experiences. The latent mean differences were statistically significant on the scales of feedback from teacher, clear goals and standards, personal integrity and ethics, intercultural competence, global perspective and civic commitment.

Practical implications

The results facilitate the understanding of perceived student learning experiences with evidence-based implications for enhancing student learning experiences and refining the four-year curriculum under the new curriculum reform conditions.

Originality/value

This is the first institution-wide study that compares student learning experiences of two concurrent cohorts under curriculum reform initiatives of Hong Kong. It provides a meaningful and pertinent example for educators and researchers worldwide to analyze the impact of curriculum reform from the perspective of students’ perceived learning experiences. Similar studies adopting rigorous approaches in the measurement of students’ perceived learning experiences are relatively rare in higher education. Such efforts are encouraged for accountability and quality improvement purposes.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are indebted to Professor Amy B.M. Tsui for her valuable comments and insightful suggestions on an earlier version of this manuscript. The authors are grateful to Professor Madhabi Chatterji for her constructive comments and edits on this manuscript. The authors also thank Ms Katie Landis who proofread the manuscript, the colleagues who provided support in the survey administration and data management and the students who completed the survey. An earlier version of this paper was accepted as a paper presentation at the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, People’s Republic of China, July 7-10, 2014. Any opinions, findings, or conclusions expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the institutions they are affiliated with.

Citation

Zhao, Y., Huen, J.M.Y. and Prosser, M. (2017), "Comparing perceived learning experiences of two concurrent cohorts under curriculum reform in Hong Kong: A multiple-group confirmatory factor analysis approach", Quality Assurance in Education, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 270-286. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAE-11-2016-0070

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited