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The educational domain of subjective well-being : perceptions of


Hong Kong international and local primary school students

Herd, Simon Matthew

Citation

Issued Date

URL

Rights

2015

http://hdl.handle.net/10722/223646

The author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights)


and the right to use in future works.

THE EDUCATIONAL DOMAIN OF SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING:


PERCEPTIONS OF HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AND LOCAL
PRIMARY SCHOOL STUDENTS

SIMON MATTHEW HERD


(2013880851)

Dissertation presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for


the Degree of Master of Education
at the University of Hong Kong

August 2015

ABSTRACT
Abstract of dissertation entitled:

The Educational Domain of Subjective Well-Being:


Perceptions of Hong Kong International and Local Primary School Students
Submitted by

Simon Matthew Herd


for the degree of Master of Education
at The University of Hong Kong
in August 2015

Quality of education is often measured in objective terms such as standardised tests


scores or employability but education is much more, being part of a wider socialisation process.
Ignoring subjective aspects of student educational experiences may result in reductive forms
of evaluation which fail to take into account the holistic, psycho-social and emotional
development of school-aged children at this specific and important stage in life. In Hong Kong
there appears to be a trade-off between high levels of objective educational performance and
lower levels of student subjective wellbeing a point which is highlighted by the current
dissensions over the continuation or not of the Territory-wide Systems Assessment. This
research compares two groups of Hong Kong primary school students and how their respective
school and home educational environments affect levels of Subjective Educational Wellbeing
(SEWB). Survey-based research was employed to gauge student perceptions and the findings
were triangulated and contextualized with documentary analysis and observations. SEWB and
explanatory factors showed stronger inter-group rather than intra-group variance and the null
hypothesis was rejected with the International School having a statistically significantly higher
level of SEWB. Student perceptions of School Conditions factors served as the strongest
predictor of SEWB scores. This finding is of significance in that it demonstrates how differing
educational environments result in variations of subjective wellbeing, a crucial component of
a socially sustainable education.
i

DECLARATION

I hereby declare that this dissertation represents my own work and


that it has not been previously submitted to this University or any other
institution in application for admission to a degree, diploma or other
qualifications.

_______________
August 2015

ii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

My deepest thanks go out to my wife Stphanie and my two children Hannah and
Matthew whose time I sacrificed to accomplish this dissertation and Masters degree. I
apologise for the times that I neglected you, was absent physically, mentally or was irritable. I
am forever grateful to you. Thank you for your love, support and understanding, I dedicate this
work to you.
Writing this dissertation has been a painful but enriching experience and a form of
catharsis which has finally given me a sense of closure. This latest milestone fits into a longer
term process of starting my life over again. The genesis of my rebirth began ten years ago and
I do not intend to stop here. I would also like to dedicate this work to all those children who
have been affected in the depths of their souls by their home and school experiences and
suffered. That also includes you my dear sister.
A big thank you to Professor Mark Bray for his guidance and encouragements which
gave me good heart. I would equally like to thank the students and staff of the two schools
involved in the research. The students gave up their precious time to answer the survey and did
not have to do so. Particular thanks are due to the Principals and Deputy Heads in the two
schools involved; Cheng Wai-Ling, Michael Chan, Mark Cripps and Karen Thomas. Thank
you also to all my colleagues from my school and the class teachers from my daughters school
whom I worked with as a parent assistant for two years.

iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Abstract
Declaration
Acknowledgements
Table of Contents
List of Tables
List of Figures
List of Appendices

i
ii
iii
iv
vii
ix
xi

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION

1.1 Subjective Wellbeing

1.2 Rationale

1.3 Subjective Wellbeing and Education

1.4 Research Context

1.5 Research Aims & Significance

1.6 Research Questions

CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW & THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK


2. 1 Subjective Wellbeing

7
7

2.1.1 Life Satisfaction

2.1.2 Positive and Negative Affect

2.1.3 Subjective Wellbeing Indicators in Use

2.2 Subjective Educational Wellbeing

10

2.2.1 Domain Evaluation

10

2.2.2 Objective Educational Wellbeing

11

2.2.3 Subjective Educational Wellbeing

12

2.3 The Role of the Family in Subjective Educational Wellbeing

14

2.4 Culturally Responsive Subjective Educational Wellbeing

16

2.4.1 Contextualising Subjective Educational Wellbeing

16

2.4.2 Eudaimonic Wellbeing

18

2.5 Subjective Educational Wellbeing Research in Hong Kong


iv

19

2.6 Explanatory Factors of Subjective Educational Wellbeing

20

2.7 Summary of Theoretical Framework

22

CHAPTER 3. RESEARCH SETTING & CONTEXTUALISATION


3.1 Macro-System

24
24

3.1.1 Historical

24

3.1.2 Economic

24

3.1.3 Political

26

3.1.4 Socio-Educational

27

3.2 Meso-System

29

3.2.1 Historical

29

3.2.2 Economic

30

3.2.3 Political

31

3.2.4 Socio-Educational

35

3.3 Micro-System

41

3.3.1 Historical

41

3.3.2 Economic

42

3.3.3 Political

44

3.3.4 Socio-Educational

45

CHAPTER 4: METHODOLOGY AND DATA COLLECTION

49

4.1 The Comparative Method

49

4.2 Survey-Based Quantitative Methodology

51

4.3 Data Collection

52

4.3.1 Instrument Design and Steps for Ensuring Validity and Reliability

52

4.3.2 Data Collection Procedures and Ethical Considerations

54

4.3.3 Research Sample

55
v

CHAPTER 5: DATA ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION


5.1 Subjective Educational Wellbeing Data

59
59

5.1.1 Subjective Educational Wellbeing Overall Scores

59

5.1.2 Educational Satisfaction Dimension

60

5.1.3 Educational Affect Dimension

61

5.1.4 Educational Flourishing Dimension

61

5.2 Explanatory Factors Data

62

5.2.1 School Conditions

63

5.2.2 Home Conditions

63

5.2.3 School Relationships

64

5.2.4 Home Relationships

65

5.2.5 Learning Experiences

65

5.3 Correlational Analysis of SEWB with Explanatory Factors

66

5.3.1 SEWB & School Conditions Correlation Test

67

5.3.2 SEWB & Home Conditions Correlation Test

67

5.3.3 SEWB & School Relationships Correlation Test

68

5.3.4 SEWB & Home Relationships Correlation Test

69

5.3.5 SEWB & Learning Experiences Correlation Test

69

5.4 Discussion

70

5.4.1 Subjective Educational Well Being and its Dimensions

71

5.4.2 Explanatory Factors

73

CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSION
6.1 Juxtaposition, Comparison and Hypotheses

77
77

6.2 Limitations & Lines for Further Research

80

6.3 Concluding Remarks

80

REFERENCES
APPENDICES

82
94
vi

LIST OF TABLES
Table 1.1 UNICEF Report Card 7 Dimensions

Table 1.2 UNICEF Report Card 11 Dimensions

Table 1.3 OECD Child Wellbeing Dimensions

Table 2.1 UNICEF RC7 & RC11 Subjective Wellbeing Components

Table 2.2 HBSC Dimensions 2005-06 Dimensions

10

Table 2.3 HBSC 2009-10 Dimensions

10

Table 2.4 UNICEF RC 7 & 11 Educational Wellbeing Indicators

12

Table 3.1 Primary School Typologies in Hong Kong

28

Table 3.2 Change in the Number of Government Schools 1977 2015

30

Table 3.3 Number of ESF and Government Schools and their Enrolments

36

Table 3.4 Hong Kong 2011 Population Census by Ethnicity

37

Table 3.5 Enrolments by Year Level 2014-15 for International & Local School

45

Table 3.6 Student Population by Nationality for International & Local School

46

Table 3.7 Staff Population by Nationality for International & Local School

46

Table 4.1 SEWB Scoring Table

53

Table 4.2 Sample by School

56

Table 4.3 Sample by Year Level & School

56

Table 4.4 Sample to Population Confidence Levels

56

Table 4.5 Sample by Age & School

57

Table 4.6 Sample by Gender & School

57

Table 4.7 Sample by Family Status & School

57

Table 4.8 Sample by Nationality & School

58

Table 4.9 Sample by Language Spoken & School

58

Table 5.1 Results of t-tests and Descriptive Statistics SEWB & Dimensions

59

by Group
vii

Table 5.2 Skewness & Kurtosis for SEWB & Explanatory Factors

59

by Group
Table 5.3 Results of t-tests and Descriptive Statistics Explanatory Factors

62

by Group
Table 5.4 Skewness & Kurtosis for SEWB & Explanatory Factors by Group

62

Table 5.5 Results of Pearsons r test and Descriptive Statistics for SEWB

66

Correlated with Explanatory Factors


Table 5.6 Mean Differences and Effects for SEWB Individual Items by Group

72

Table 5.7 Mean Differences and Effects for Learning Experiences Individual

73

Items by Group
Table 5.8 Mean Differences and Effects for School & Home Relationships

75

Individual Item by Group


Table 5.9 Mean Differences and Effects for School & Home Conditions Items

76

by Group
Table 6.1: Similarities and Differences in Contextual Factors

viii

78

LIST OF FIGURES
Figure 1.1 A Model of Adult Life-Satisfaction

Figure 2.1 Socio-Ecological Model

15

Figure 2.2: Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

20

Figure 2.3: Allardts Objective and Subjective Indicators of Well-being

21

Figure 2.4: School Wellbeing Model

21

Figure 2.5: Model for Explaining Subjective Educational Wellbeing

22

Figure 2.6 Subjective Educational Wellbeing Framework

23

Figure 3.1 Hong Kong Government Budget 2014-15

25

Figure 3.2 Hong Kong Expenditure per Primary School Student Compared

25

with OECD Countries using Purchasing Power Parity.


Figure 3.3 Organisational Diagram of the Government of the Hong Kong S.A.R.

26

Figure 3.4 Hong Kong Government Budget 1974 2015 % Spending on Education

27

Figure 3.5 Organisation Chart for the EDB

32

Figure 3.6 Organisation Chart for the ex-Education Department 1998

32

Figure 3.7 Government Primary School Management Committee Structure

33

Figure 3.8: Organisational Structure of the ESF

34

Figure 3.9: ESF Centre Organisation Structure

34

Figure 3.10: ESF Primary School Council Structure

35

Figure 3.11: Locations of ESF School in Hong Kong

36

Figure 3.12: Nationality of Students System-Wide at ESF

37

Figure 3.13: Ethnicity of Students System-Wide at ESF

38

Figure 3.14: Sample of ESF Staff Intake by Nationality since 2006

38

Figure 3.15: English Schools Foundation Admission Path

41

Figure 4.1 Bray and Thomas (1995) Multilevel Analysis Framework

50

Figure 4.2 The Comparative Method (Bereday, 1964)

51

Figure 5.1 Difference of Mean Subjective Educational Wellbeing by Group

60

ix

Figure 5.2 Difference of Mean Educational Satisfaction by Group

60

Figure 5.3 Difference of Mean Educational Affect by Group

61

Figure 5.4 Difference of Mean Educational Flourishing by Group

62

Figure 5.5 Difference of Mean School Conditions by Group

63

Figure 5.6 Difference of Mean Home Conditions by Group

64

Figure 5.7 Difference of Mean School Relationships by Group

64

Figure 5.8 Difference of Mean Home Relationships by Group

65

Figure 5.9 Difference of Mean Learning Experiences by Group

66

Figure 5.10 Subjective Educational Wellbeing & School Conditions Correlation

67

Figure 5.11 Subjective Educational Wellbeing & Home Conditions Correlation

68

Figure 5.12 Subjective Educational Wellbeing & School Relationships Correlation

68

Figure 5.13 Subjective Educational Wellbeing & Home Relationships Correlation

69

Figure 5.14 Subjective Educational Wellbeing & Learning Experiences Correlation

70

LIST OF APPENDICES
1 Questionnaire English
2 Consent and Assent Letters

94
103

xi

CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION
Development and state welfare are seen as means of improving the wellbeing of individuals and
communities by satisfying their needs (Allardt, 1976; UNDP, 2013; Veenhoven, 2000). Modern schooling in the
form of universal mass compulsory education is one of the most visible elements of welfarism and is considered a
key dimension that should be taken into account (Stiglitz, Sen & Fitoussi, 2009, p. 14) when measuring wellbeing.
The Millennium Development Goal to achieve universal primary education (UN, 2015, August 15), exemplifies
the privileged position that education enjoys in being seen as instrumental to advancing child wellbeing. Although a
consensus exists on education being conducive to child wellbeing it is not one that necessarily involves children
themselves as stakeholders. Human capital and social utility paradigms, which are often prevalent in policy-making
circles, tend to be skewed towards objective dimensions of education and wellbeing. Using such approaches
exclusively for evaluating educational wellbeing is reductive because it fails to take into account other human
aspects such as the holistic, psycho-social and emotional development of school-aged children.
Though there is no unique, universally accepted way of actually measuring child well-being that emerges
from the academic literature (OECD, 2009, p. 24), it is recommended that in addition to objective indicators of
well-being, subjective measures of the quality-of-life should be considered (Stiglitz, Sen and Fitoussi, 2009, p. 16).
UNICEF, have attempted to delineate the field of child wellbeing through the development of a multidimensional
composite indicator of child wellbeing (Tables 1.1 and 1.2), which has been developed in partnership with the
OECD (Bradshaw et al., 2013) that has its own similar set of indicators (OECD, 2009, p. 28) (Table 1.3). Report
Card 7 (UNICEF, 2007) and Report Card 11 (UNICEF, 2013), cover dimensions such as teenage births, infant and
child mortality, teenage pregnancy, maltreatment, child care, and inequality. Awareness of the axiological, cultural,
ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions that permeate such global studies is necessary, but
the prominent place that subjective wellbeing and educational wellbeing are given, has influenced this research. It
is the case though that the two dimensions are often disassociated; something this research aims to bridge in
examining Subjective Educational Wellbeing.
Table 1.1: UNICEF Report Card 7 Dimensions

Table 1.2: UNICEF Report Card 11 Dimensions

Sources: UNICEF (2007; 2013)

Table 1.3: OECD Child Wellbeing Dimensions

Source: OECD (2009)


1.1 Subjective Wellbeing
Well-being is a state in which it is possible for a human being to satisfy his/her basic needs. In the
indicator systems of well-being, both material and non-material basic human needs have to be considered (Konu &
Rimpel, 2002, p. 82). Subjective wellbeing fits into the latter category though it may be influenced by material
factors. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2014, p. 1) states for instance that health is a state of complete
physical, mental and social well-being, therefore combining both material and non-material aspects. Regarding the
measurement of non-material wellbeing in children, there has been a paradigm shift from the clinically deficitoriented approach to that of educationally strength-based model in assessing [] psychosocial wellbeing (Tsang,
Wong & Lo, 2011, p. 426), sometimes termed as positive psychology. Positive psychology took off in the 1990s
as a corrective to psychologys heavy emphasis on illness, suffering, and misfortune. It sought to enrich human life
and enhance human functioning (Baumeister, Vohs, Aaker & Garbinsky, 2012, p. 508). Lippman et al. (2014, p.1)
believe that social science researchers, policy makers, and practitioners need to understand how positive and
protective factors contribute, along with negative factors or risks, to child well-being outcomes. Combined with
this, a long philosophical tradition views individuals as the best judges of their own conditions (Fitoussi &
Stiglitz, 2011, p. 13) leading to calls from certain quarters for a new role of children in measuring and
monitoring their own well being a role of active participants rather than of subjects for research (Ben Arieh,
2005), in line with Article 12 from the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (OHCHR, 2014, p. 4) which
states that:
Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express
those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in
accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
The measurement of subjective wellbeing comprises peoples longer-term levels of pleasant affect, lack of
unpleasant affect, and life satisfaction (Diener, 2009, p.25).
1.2 Rationale
Monitoring and fostering positive SWB should be of concern to parents, educators, researchers and policymakers alike because children with poor subjective well-being are especially vulnerable and may be a risk to
others (Axford, Jodrell, & Hobbs, 2014, p.2700). Moreover, adults have a legal responsibility to ensure the child
such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being (OHCHR, 2014, p.2). Cantwell (1993) provides a
2

useful rights-based lens for understanding the purpose of consulting our children regarding their subjective
wellbeing:

The right to provision of basic needs.

The right to protection from harmful acts and practices.

The right to participation in decisions affecting their lives.

It is the case though that much SWB research focuses on adults as opposed to children (Ben-Arieh, 2000;
Soutter, 2011, p. 2) but also on variables affecting SWB arising in adulthood rather than those encountered in
childhood (Layard et al., 2014, p. 721). However, [b]eing in good physical and emotional health enables young
people to deal with the challenges of growing and eases their transition to adulthood (WHO, 2012, p. 67). Positive
SWB is therefore crucial to children as it contributes to the satisfaction of childhood needs but is also a determinant
factor in deciding the kinds of future adults they become. Findings from the British Cohort Study (Layard et al.,
2014, p. 735) which examined the relationships between a mix of objective and subjective factors at different stages
of life and their impact on adult wellbeing (Figure 1.1) showed that:
By far the most important predictor of adult life-satisfaction is emotional health, both in childhood and
subsequently. Pro-social behaviour in childhood is the next most important childhood predictor. We
find that the intellectual performance of a child is the least important childhood predictor of lifesatisfaction as an adult.
This last point has major implications in the measurement of educational wellbeing.
Figure 1.1: A Model of Adult Life-Satisfaction

Source: Layard et al. (2014), p.721.


3

1.3 Subjective Wellbeing and Education


To date, the majority of studies of SWB in school-age students have focused on identifying nonschool
(e.g., family and self-related variables, such as personality and cognitions) determinants and consequences of
individual differences in childrens SWB (Huebner et al., 2014, p. 800). By contrast, there have been very few
opportunities in schools to pay attention to the well-being of pupils (Ahonen, 2010, p. 18) and the relationship
between SWB and school-related variables (Huebner et al., 2014, p. 800) despite the fact that school is very
significant in childrens lives and occupies a large portion of their time (Leung, 2006, p. 6). It has been observed
though, that the school context has a major influence on pupils' general subjective well-being (Konu, Lintonen &
Rimpel, 2002, p. 155). The importance of school experiences in students lives is suggested in the relationship
between childrens school satisfaction and their satisfaction with their lives as a whole (Huebner, 2014, p. 800).
Despite achievement being a poor predictor of future adult subjective wellbeing, achievement and
attainment are the most commonly used indicators of educational wellbeing. This phenomenon has grown with the
advent of large-scale comparative studies achievement such as the Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA), Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) or Trends in International Mathematics and
Science Study (TIMSS), having the effect of restricting the meaning of exemplary schools to the narrow criterion
of achievement scores (Levin, 2012, p. 269) while science indicates that sound investments in interventions that
reduce adversity are also likely to strengthen the foundations of physical and mental health (Garner et al., 2012, p.
233). Overly focussing on achievement, especially in standardised tests or examinations, in many cases leads to
stress thus contributing to childhood adversity and therefore lower levels of subjective wellbeing. Therefore the
quest for world-class schools must encompass a range of human development characteristics that extend
considerably beyond test scores (Levin, 2012, p. 269) and [i]n addition to the teaching of academic subjects in
schools, attention should be paid to the achievement of socio-emotional goals and the holistic well-being of pupils
(Ahonen, 2010, p. 19). To that end schools might become more socially sustainable.
1.4 Research Context
Hong Kong, the location of this study, has along with neighbouring territories of shared Confucian Heritage
Cultures, gained kudos in recent years owing to its strong and consistent top-tier performances in PISA (OECD,
2010; 2013c) and other large-scale international comparative studies of achievement. Confucian Heritage Cultures
tend to place a high emphasis on education and the preparation for examinations in particular. Yet the educational
success in Confucian Heritage Cultures sometimes comes at a cost with certain students reporting low levels of
subjective wellbeing at school (Shek & Liu, 2014a; Thompson, 2015). Hong Kong has seen a worrying longitudinal
development of morbidity and pathological symptoms apparently arising from educational causes (Bray, 2013;
Leung, 2006; Ng, 2004). Certain cases have sometimes tragically resulted in mortality.
One of the issues with large-scale international comparative studies of achievement is that they assume the
comparability of heteroclite locations and provide non-contextualized results. On a number of levels this reasoning
is problematic. Another deficiency of such a methodological approach for comparison is that intra-national
4

differences in the provision of education are often masked with nations being presented in a homogenous manner.
Hong Kong, which is not a nation but a Special Administrative Region of China, has a very diverse educational
system in which a considerable number of different school typologies coexist. The two groups of students being
investigated in this research belong to two significantly differentiated primary schooling systems. A number of
dichotomies of interest to the subjective educational wellbeing of students present themselves; public / private, low
/ high levels of investment, local / international outlook, traditional / progressive pedagogy and low / high emphasis
on examinations. This having been said the two primary school settings present many similarities too including the
era in which they were founded, their ties with the government, the number of enrolments, the competitive
admission procedures and their strong reputations. Therefore the two school settings are a worthwhile pair for
comparison, namely that they have sufficient in common to make analysis of their differences meaningful (Bray,
2005, p. 250).
1.5 Research Aims & Significance
The first phase of this research aims to create an instrument capable of measuring Subjective Educational
Wellbeing (SEWB) and identifying potential factors which might explain the self-reported levels of SEWB. This
involves adapting subjective wellbeing constructs to the educational domain and to the developmental level of
primary-age children. Effort is also made to make the instrument culturally responsive both contextually but also in
the constructs it measures. The second phase relies on survey-based research using a comparative approach. The
levels of SEWB reported by two groups of Hong Kong key stage 2 primary school children are measured. The
distribution and variance of the results between and within the two groups are reported, identifying the differences
and similarities between the two groups. The same methodology is undertaken with a range of explanatory factors
from both school and home environments relating to educational experiences. Finally correlational analysis is
carried out between SEWB levels and explanatory factors so as to determine if there are any relationships between
those variables and SEWB.
The research gives students the opportunity to appraise their educational experiences and hopes to achieve
deeper understandings of the phenomenon of subjective educational wellbeing as perceived by children while
reducing a research gap which exists in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Though the results of this research do not aim to
be generalizable, insights may be gained and help move forward the process of making our childrens education
more sustainable. Huebner et al. (2014, p. 802) fittingly summarise the significance of researching subjective
educational wellbeing:
Major institutional settings in childhood (e.g., a childs school) exert influences on childrens
SWB. Given that schools can be modified and improved, it is possible that schools can be designed
to provide substantial support for student SWB and other aspects of positive development

1.6 Research Questions


1) How do the children in the two groups report their Subjective Educational Wellbeing and their perceptions of
potential explanatory factors from their school and home educational environments?
2) What is the distribution and variance of the childrens SEWB and potential explanatory factors, as reported
within the two groups, and how can it be interpreted in a contextualized manner?
3) What are the similarities and differences between the two groups survey results and contexts and what are the
criteria for comparability?
4) To what extent do the similarities or differences in explanatory factors between the two groups correlate with
SEWB and what hypotheses for explanation can be advanced?

CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW & THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK


The following literature review lays out the conceptual and theoretical framework for this research. The
purposes are two-fold, the first of which is to clearly identify and define the unit of analysis for comparison and the
second is to translate the theory into practice. The introduction to this dissertation has situated subjective wellbeing
within the field of child wellbeing and the literature review further narrows the scope of investigation to Subjective
Educational Wellbeing explaining how it is related to Subjective Wellbeing. Subjective Educational Wellbeing
indicators and instruments in use are then presented, highlighting their strengths and limitations, and providing the
rationale for inclusion of measures which are used as a basis for this research. Thought is then given on how to
contextualise Subjective Educational Wellbeing research in Hong Kong and operationalise it, taking into account
the socio-ecological and cultural specificities of the setting. Finally, a classificatory framework for identifying
explanatory factors is outlined, whose aim is to enrich the measurement of Subjective Educational Wellbeing by
examining what relationships exist between a range of educational variables and levels of Subjective Educational
Wellbeing.
2. 1 Subjective Wellbeing
Subjective wellbeing or quality of life measures are frequently used for the purposes of evaluating the
presence or absence of positive psychological states in individuals and levels of self-defined wellbeing. Diener
(2009, p. 25) provides an authoritative definition of subjective well-being and has extensively worked with others
on the methodological soundness of instruments to measure the construct:
Subjective well-being (SWB) comprises peoples longer-term levels of pleasant affect, lack of
unpleasant affect, and life satisfaction. It displays moderately high levels of cross-situational
consistency and temporal stability. Self-report measures of SWB show adequate validity, reliability,
factor invariance, and sensitivity to change.
It is therefore now widely agreed that subjective well-being is closely related or even synonymous with other
psychologically positive constructs, particularly happiness and life satisfaction (Ben-Arieh, Casas, Frnes, &
Korbin, 2014, p. 8). Many measures of child wellbeing deal mainly with survival and the basic needs of children,
and are inadequate for measuring the state and quality of life of children beyond survival (Ben-Arieh, 2000, p.
241) hence the importance of subjective wellbeing indicators.
2.1.1 Life Satisfaction
Life satisfaction is usually referred to as ones overall appraisal of his or her quality of life (Diener and
Diener 1995), indicating the degree to which ones most important needs, goals, and wishes have been fulfilled as
he or she perceives (Shek, & Liu, 2014, p. 777). Veenhoven (1991) terms life satisfaction as the degree to which
an individual judges the overall quality of his life-as-a-whole favourable (p. 10). Therefore, life satisfaction
measures can be seen as a more cognitive (Phillips, 2006, p. 169) or distanced and macro-level self-evaluation of
the state of life or living of an individual. It is also the case that life satisfaction to a certain extent brings together
7

subjective and objective aspects of individual quality of life and individual and societal quality of life (Phillips,
2006, p. 167). As shall be discussed later, this is reflected by the fact that life satisfaction research and instruments
also focus on specific life domains (e.g., family life, school experiences) (Huebner, Suldo, & Valois, 2003, p. 3).
Life satisfaction scales encompass judgments ranging from very negative (e.g., terrible) to neutral to very
positive (e.g., delighted). Thus, life satisfaction scales reflect conceptualizations of positive well-being that extend
beyond merely the absence of dissatisfaction (Huebner, Suldo, & Valois, 2003, p. 3).

Different types of

instruments and formats exist for measuring life satisfaction such as the one-item life satisfaction index, this has
been widely used as a basic indicator of well-being although with different formats (i.e., Cantrils ladder), and it has
also been used with children and adolescents. Some authors consider this single item a higher-order measure of
wellbeing (Ben-Arieh, Casas, Frnes, & Korbin, 2014, p. 9). The OECD, UNICEF and WHO all use Cantrils
ladder in their evaluations of life-satisfaction. More thorough multi-item indexes for measuring life satisfaction
exist too where respondents share their degree of agreement or happiness relating to statements concerning their
lives; Satisfaction with Life Scale (Pavot & Diener, 2013), Satisfaction With Life Scale-Child (Gadermann,
Schonert-Reichl & Zumbo, 2010), Personal Wellbeing Index (Cummins and Lau, 2005) or

Students Life

Satisfaction Scale (Huebner, 1991). The variety of instruments available signals that a personal strength that merits
study among children and adolescents is life satisfaction, (Huebner, Suldo, & Valois, 2003, p. 3).
2.1.2 Positive and Negative Affect
The counterpart of the cognitive domain of subjective wellbeing is its affective one. Affective evaluations
measure emotions and moods. The OECD (2013a, p. 257) defines the objectives of its affect module as being to,
collect information on recent positive and negative emotional states. The questions on positive and negative affect
capture distinct aspects of subjective well-being that are not reflected in more evaluative measures like lifesatisfaction. Pleasant and unpleasant affect reflect basic experiences of the ongoing events in peoples lives. Thus,
it is no surprise that many argue that these affective evaluations should form the basis for SWB judgments
(Diener, 2009, p.72).
Certain researchers believe that we should treat pleasant and unpleasant affect as two separate items rather
than as two sides of the same coin. They do this because it is possible to have high levels of both or indeed low
levels of both Philips (2006, p. 18). Unfortunately providing a simple answer as to whether positive and negative
affect are independent is not possible (Diener, 2009, p. 41). This research framework combines both on a single
scale. The following classification is made by Philips (2006, p. 18) relating to possible outcomes of affect
measurement:
1 High levels of pleasant affect plus low levels of unpleasant affect = happy.
2 Low levels of pleasant affect plus high levels of unpleasant affect = unhappy.
3 High levels of both pleasant and unpleasant affect = emotional.
4 Low levels of both pleasant and unpleasant affect = unemotional.
8

Diener (2009, p. 250) has developed the Scale of Positive and Negative Experience (SPANE) which
includes broad descriptors for positive and negative feelings, as well as a number of positive and negative
emotions that are central to the experience of well-being. SPANE takes the following form (Diener, 2009, p.253):
This measure is a brief 12-item scale with six items devoted to positive experience and six items
designed to assess negative experience. Because the scale includes very general positive and negative
experience and feelings, it assesses the full range of positive and negative experience, including
specific feelings that may be defined by ones culture.
2.1.3 Subjective Wellbeing Indicators in Use
UNICEF makes use of subjective wellbeing indicators in RC7 (2007) and RC11 (2011) (Table 2.1). By
looking at the indicators construction and the way in which they are operationalized provides valuable information.
Table 2.1: UNICEF RC7 & RC11 Subjective Wellbeing Components

Source: UNICEF (2007; 2013)


The WHOs Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children (HBSC) survey has also given a prominent position
to subjective wellbeing measures in its methodology (Gavin, Molcho, Kelly, & Gabhainn, 2013, p. 43). HBSC
(WHO, 2012, p. xvi) focuses on a wide range of health, education, social and family measures that affect young
peoples health and well-being. Many items from the surveys 2009 / 10 protocol have been used for the purposes
of the research instrument. The main dimensions included in the HBSC 2005/6 (UNICEF, 2015, May 15) and
2009/10 (Currie et al., 2010) indicators (Tables 2.2 & 2.3) include, life-satisfaction, relationships with family and
friends, well-being at school, and subjective health (UNICEF, 2013, p. 4). The Positive Health dimension in the
2009/10 edition covers the construct of subjective wellbeing as does the Health Outcomes dimension in the 2005/6
edition.
9

Table 2.2: HBSC Dimensions 2005-06 Dimensions


Individual and social resources Health behaviours Health outcomes

Background factors

Body image

Physical activity

Health complaints

Family structure

Family support

Sedentary behaviour

Life satisfaction

Socio-economic status
(parental occupation;
Family Affluence Scale)

Peers

Eating behaviour

Self-reported health
status Body Mass
Index

Maturation (girls only)

School environment

Dental health
Weight control
behaviour
Tobacco use
Alcohol use
Cannabis use
Sexual behaviour
Violence and bullying
Injuries

Source: UNICEF (2015, May 15)


Table 2.3: HBSC 2009-10 Dimensions

Eating
Habits

Weight
Control & Phsical
Body
Activity
Image

Leisure
Risk
Time
Behaviour
Activity

Sexual
Health

Injuries,
Fighting &
Bullying

Family

Peers

Positive
Health

School
Setting

Social
Inequality

Puberty

Source: Currie et al. (2010)


One of the key features of the 2009/10 edition of the study is the emphasis that it places on psycho-social and
emotional aspects, with the authors stating that the importance of social determinants to young peoples health,
well-being and development is clear (WHO, 2012, p. xvi). Of interest is the link that is made whereby [l]ife
satisfaction in young people is strongly influenced by experiences and relationships (WHO, 2012 p. 71), a point
which shall be expanded upon in later sections.
2.2 Subjective Educational Wellbeing
2.2.1 Domain Evaluation
Subjective Wellbeing can be seen as a global assessment rather than only a narrow assessment of one life
domain (Diener, 2009, p. 27). In other words it refers to life as a whole or some similar over-arching construct
(OECD, 2013a, p. 30). A whole range of environments, aspects and factors of peoples lives may come to influence
subjective wellbeing, but this dissertation seeks to investigate and measure subjective wellbeing in the educational
context because of the intrinsic part education plays in shaping the subjective wellbeing of a child. In addition to
10

global judgements of life as a whole, it is also possible for people to provide evaluations of particular aspects of
their lives such as their health or their job (OECD, 2013a, p. 30) with this being termed as domain evaluation. The
UNICEF and WHO subjective wellbeing indicators for instance contain a number of sub-dimensions; self-reported
health, family and peer relationships or school environments. Huebner et al. (2014, p. 26) note that studies of SWB
include those addressing childrens positive emotions and global life satisfaction and domain-based satisfaction,
specifically satisfaction with school experiences. We can thus conceptualise the construct under investigation as
being the educational domain of subjective wellbeing or the subjective dimension of educational wellbeing. Before
defining educational wellbeing from a subjective perspective it is therefore necessary to define its counterpart
which could be termed as objective educational wellbeing.
2.2.2 Objective Educational Wellbeing
UNICEF includes Education or Educational Wellbeing in both RC7 and RC11 (Table 2.4) as one of the
dimensions of its composite child wellbeing indicator. Rather like domain-based evaluations being a part of overall
subjective wellbeing, the distinction is made between overall child wellbeing and child educational wellbeing, with
the latter being a sub-category of the former. Access to education, basic educational competencies and
employability are undoubtedly important educational outcomes and crucial to the welfare/wellbeing of nations and
individuals both objectively but also subjectively (Ross & Van Willigen, 1997, p. 275):
education improves well-being because it increases access to nonalienated paid work and economic
resources that increase the sense of control over life, as well as access to stable social relationships,
especially marriage, that increase social support
However, as can be seen, the criteria are skewed towards objective criteria with educational wellbeing resuming
itself to rates and length of educational participation, achievement and economic marketability. The OECDs
participation in the construction of UNICEFs indicator contributes to this by using PISA data on school
performance as a proxy for educational wellbeing. The paradigm is resolvedly in the realms of human capital. One
of the advantages of this path is no doubt the production of a simplified metric ready to use for the purposes of
policy-making. Unfortunately risks exist in constructing straightforward policy stories from complex conditions
(Morris, 2015, April 16).
Objective educational wellbeing taken on its own supposes that attainment, achievement and test scores are
the only contributing factor to educational wellbeing, which is reductive. One of the limitations of only including
objective data is that the processes, experiences or phenomena of schooling that form the subjective side of
wellbeing are absent. Moreover, the relationship between better test scores and wellbeing, in some cases or after a
certain threshold, can be inversely related. The behaviourist tradition in education emphasizes the objective strand
of educational wellbeing with its reliance on summative features and while this dimension cannot be ignored, other
inputs have to be sought to monitor overall educational wellbeing. Progressive and constructivist theories of
education for instance, place more emphasis on learning processes, pedagogy, motivation and educational

11

psychology in understanding education. Subjective interpretations of educational wellbeing allow us to gain


insights into these factors.
Table 2.4: UNICEF RC7 & RC11 Educational Wellbeing Indicators

(Not in Education, Employment, or Training)

Source: UNICEF (2007; 2013)


2.2.3 Subjective Educational Wellbeing
Child wellbeing as a field is undergoing four major shifts (i.e., from survival to well-being, from negative
to positive, from well becoming to wellbeing, and from traditional to new domains) (Ben-Arieh, 2005, p. 574).
The move from well-becoming to wellbeing is worth noting. The objective dimension of educational wellbeing that
has been introduced, addresses aspects relating to well-becoming with the OECD (2009, p.25) resuming it as
follows:
The developmentalist perspective focuses on the accumulation of human capital and social skills for
tomorrow. This long view of child well-being has been described as focusing on well-becoming.
However, the argument is made that such a perspective, which discounts the value a child places on her or his
present quality of life in favour of speculated future states defined by other adults, should at the very least be
moderated. Indeed, we should consider childhood as a unique stage of identity, not simply one among many stages
of becoming an adult (Ben-Arieh, 2006, p. 3).

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The centrality of school settings in relation to educational and subjective wellbeing is made explicit by the
WHO (2012, p. 7) who lay down the rationale for investing more efforts and resources into its measurement and
improvement:
Experiences in school can be crucial to the development of self-esteem, self-perception and health
behaviour. HBSC findings show that those who perceive their school as supportive are more likely to
engage in positive health behaviours and have better health outcomes, including good self-rated health,
high levels of life satisfaction, few health complaints (4549) and low smoking prevalence (50). These
associations suggest that schools have an important role in supporting young peoples wellbeing and in
acting as buffers against negative health behaviours and outcomes.
Of particular concern is that in participant countries of the HBSC (2012, p. 61) surveys:
School perceptions worsen with increasing age across countries and regions, with liking school,
perceived academic achievement and, to a lesser extent, classmate support decreasing and perceived
school pressure increasing. There is therefore a systematic pattern of school increasingly not meeting
students basic psychological needs from ages 11 to 15.
These findings align with those of Eccles & Roeser (35), among others (36), who suggest that the
pattern reflects the mismatch between the environment in middle and secondary schools and young
peoples needs. At an age when they would benefit from greater connectedness with their teachers and
a more supportive school climate, the opposite occurs. School organization tends to become more
depersonalized from primary and middle to secondary school, with different teachers for different
subjects and, in many countries, different student groups for each subject, stratified by academic level
and school.
This increasing lack of environmental fit with student age may be ameliorated through specific school
strategies targeting teachers, classroom environments, school structures and education policies (35).
The approach to measuring Subjective Educational Wellbeing, is the same as measuring overall subjective
wellbeing except that it is targeted at education-specific experiences. Instead of measuring overall life-satisfaction
this research measures Educational Satisfaction and instead of evaluating overall positive and negative affect,
Educational Affect is examined. For instance, the HBSC 2009-10 survey measures subjective educational wellbeing
with its School Setting dimension and does so in a number of different ways. HBSC includes an overall subjective
wellbeing indicator in the form of Cantrils Ladder measure of life satisfaction but also includes the domain
evaluation of liking school or not. Also included are a number of statements related to relationships at school with
adults and peers and other related items such as bullying or friendship. Lastly an affective statement which relates
to the perception of pressure at school is also included in combination with a question how many hours a day the
concerned child usually spends doing school homework out of school.

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UNICEFS RC7 also includes the subjective aspect of educational wellbeing, in line with the OECDs 2009
framework which identified Quality of School Life as a criterion for evaluation. Children here too were asked to
appraise their schooling environment by giving their opinion on the extent to which they liked school or not
(OECD, 2009, p.58), with the item featuring in PISA 2012 (2013b). Despite the heavy publicity of the objective
achievement-related features of PISA, the OECD explores subjective aspects of education quite thoroughly, albeit
buried in its third volume of PISA 2012. Various aspects of Subjective Educational Wellbeing are put under the
microscope.
Three dimensions that are conducive to student learning are identified in Volume III: Ready to Learn
Students Engagement, Drive and Self-Beliefs (OECD, 2013b). Engagement includes a number of questions related
to educational satisfaction articulated around belongingness at school and attitudes towards learning outcomes and
activities. Along with the educational satisfaction items, PISA 2012 also includes measures of educational affect,
focusing more often than not on relationships. Self-Beliefs also addresses educational affect through the lenses of
self-efficacy, self-concept and anxiety. Questions focus on descriptors of feelings such as confidence, being good,
worrying, getting nervous, etc.
2.3 The Role of the Family in Subjective Educational Wellbeing
Education is unsurprisingly often equated with schooling, but neither does it take place exclusively in
schools, nor in isolation from outside influences. Bourdieu (1986) notes that the scholastic yield from educational
action depends on the cultural capital previously invested by the family (p. 6). A natural source of cultural capital
is of course the school environment but it is also the case that the production of cultural capital, or lack thereof,
occurs in the home environment. However, it is the case that cultural capital, whose diffuse, continuous
transmission within the family escapes observation (Bourdieu, 1986, p. 24).
The enquiry into Subjective Educational Wellbeing can therefore usefully be complemented with
socioecological models (Figure 2.1) such as Bronfenbrenners (UNESCO, 2011, p. 8). The ecological environment
is conceived as a set of nested structures, each inside the next, like a set of Russian dolls (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p.
3). The model has travelled well, with Phillips (2006, p. 3) highlighting the World Health Organisations use of an:
ecological model of health, comprising the concentric spheres of the individual and their family and
kinship network (the micro-system), their local community (together forming the meso-system) and
through to the nation, including national identity and government services and then on to international
and global factors (the macro-system)
The ecological approach contrasts with the more individualistic and arguably atomistic SWB-oriented perspective
that could be claimed to be based upon seeing each person as an island (Phillips, 2006, p. 7) and emphasises
social aspects. Bronfenbrenners (1979) framework requires looking beyond single settings to the relations
between them (p. 3). Unfortunately, this research cannot examine all levels and possible interrelationships but
does examine those which exist between the individual and the microsystem. In addition to the school setting this
research examines and acknowledges that the existence and nature of ties between the school and the home impact
14

a childs development (Bronfenbrenner, 1979, p. 3), with peer relationships also being included as an important
factor in a childs microsystem.
Figure 2.1: Socio-Ecological Model

Source: Bronfenbrenner (1979)


The inclusion of family and peer relationships by the OECD, UNICEF and WHO attests of the importance
given to their impact on psycho-social and emotional states and their effect on child wellbeing. Both the UNICEF
and the OECD examine this in relation to educational wellbeing. The importance of the home environment in
educational processes is outlined by the OECD (2013b, p. 141) in the Role of Families section of its PISA 2012
framework. Parental Expectations and Home Environment and Parental Behaviour measure subjective factors of
the household involvement in education. Home Environment and Parental Behaviour involves an appraisal of
social moments within the family dedicated to education (such as homework, activities, dinner, discussion, etc.) and
invites respondents to evaluate the quality of the interactions involved. Parental Expectations covers the role
parents have in fostering high expectations with regards to school performance and future career prospects. The
WHOs Family Support and the UNICEFS Family Relationships domains address similar lines.
Such an approach is salient in Hong Kong, where family and parenting styles play a preponderant part in
shaping the educational outcomes of children. Amy Chua and her Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother (2011) is a
testament to the interest given to this aspect of childrens upbringing in Confucian Heritage Cultures whose
attitudes and values promote the cultivation of cultural capital as a social norm. While not all Hong Kong families
may be able to transmit embodied cultural capital per se, many attempt to foster a home environment in which the
drive and engagement to acquire cultural capital is a core value. This may also be associated with a transactional
approach in which objectified cultural capital is purchased. The Chinese parenting style has for instance given the
rise to Hong Kong being one of the world leaders in the provision of private supplementary tutoring (Bray, 2013,
15

p. 21). At the behest of their parents, Hong Kong children are exposed to very high levels of out of school
educational activities, right from the youngest of years. A 2010 survey on private supplementary tutoring, which
did not cover the whole sector, conservatively estimated the market size was approximately HK$1,984 million
(Bray & Lykins, 2012, p. 20) in other words around 0.1 % of gross domestic product. Therefore, education as it is
conceived in this theoretical framework for researching subjective educational wellbeing understands to include
more than just the school environment but also the home one too because they are undeniably intertwined.
2.4 Culturally Responsive Subjective Educational Wellbeing
2.4.1 Contextualising Subjective Educational Wellbeing
One of the difficulties that enquiry in the social sciences faces is its ability to achieve Value Freedom
(Bruun, 2007, p. 57). The comparative paradigm being employed in this research, while being contextuallygrounded, also follows the scientific method in much of its methodological construction. Despite claims otherwise,
the scientific method is value-laden too as the assumptions related to the nature of science are assumptions with
respect to ontology, epistemology, human nature, and methodology (Ardalan, 2011). Mason (2007) cautions in
reflecting that [r]esearchers should also be mindful of their own ethical and more broadly axiological (value)
positions (p. 184) and indeed why they embark upon the research process in the first place (Mason, 2007, p. 195).
Both actors and observers in this exchange are vectors of diverse values. Awareness of the ways the phenomena we
are observing are being shaped by norms is as important as understanding the way our own perceptions of a
phenomenon are shaped too by experiences, contexts and idiosyncrasies. The danger of imposing an alien narrative
or normative stance on what is being seen through ones beliefs, ethnocentrism (Weinstein et al., 2004) or
demographic representativeness exists.
A solution is that, instead of observing the educational processes from the outside and, in order to attenuate
the cultural bias of the researcher, he or she may try to understand how students perceive the content and process
(the what and how) of learning. The underlying rationale is the phenomenological notion that people act
according to their interpretations of a situation rather than to objective reality (Watkins, 2007, p. 301).
Subjective wellbeing instruments facilitate this approach and are designed so as to find out about learning from the
learners perspective rather than from that of the researcher (Watkins, 2007, p. 300) that which is known as a
second-order perspective.
Unfortunately, the use of the second-order perspective is not a guarantee for success in accurately
pinpointing the constructs being observed. Ontological conceptions vary from culture to culture giving rise to a
situation whereby we might witness (Watkins, 2007, p. 302):
the existence of response sets which operate differently across cultures. Thus we know that whatever
questions are asked, respondents from different cultures are likely to differ to the extent that they will
agree with the question statement, provide socially desirable responses, or use extreme rating points.

16

The Hong Kong ethos towards education necessitates the search for a more a more culturally grounded and
responsive interpretation of Subjective Educational Wellbeing. The articulation of subjective wellbeing that has
been discussed so far can be categorised as its Hedonic form. The parallel is often drawn between the concepts of
Hedonic subjective wellbeing and economic utilitarianism. The idea is that individuals are rational actors who in
their actions and experiences seek to maximise pleasure and minimise discomfort. One of the possible
shortcomings of using the Hedonic strand of subjective wellbeing as a measure in this research is that it is derived
from Anglo-Saxon or western European cultural heritages, whose conceptions of wellbeing view the individual as
paramount in all considerations. Without diminishing the importance or pertinence of such a construct, which is
after all being used in the construction of this theoretical framework, it does not perhaps fully encapsulate the
realities of the Confucian Heritage Culture that Hong Kong is a part of, albeit in a hybridised form (Luk-Fong,
2005). Individuals in Hong Kong may experience satisfaction, pleasure or discomfort according to different criteria.
Hofstede (2010) has extensively researched the differences between cultures and advances the concept of
differentiated dimensions of national cultures (p. 29). The scores in Hofstedes research appear to show similar
traits among Confucian Heritage Cultures, four of which have implications on subjective educational wellbeing;
power distance, individualism, long term orientation and indulgence. Concerning Power Distance, Hong Kong has
a high score on PDI i.e. a society that believes that inequalities amongst people are acceptable. The subordinatesuperior relationship tends to be polarized (Hofstede, 2015, May 7). This is exemplified by the teacher-student
relationship (Young & Wong, 2009) but also the parent-child unit and is often recognised in the concept of Jnz
or being of noble character. In such an understanding, positive character traits include the virtue of filial piety,
or devotion of the child to his parents, was the foundation for all others (Bloom, 2015, May 7) with the idea of
hierarchy being extended as far as the state with the notion of Guo Jia or "nation-family" (Bloom, 2015, May
7th); a system in which each has his place and should be contented. In the words of Confucius (1893, p. 1), filial
piety and fraternal submission,-are they not the root of all benevolent actions? The failure to recognise this by an
individual may lead to Zhngmng , literally translated as the rectification of names (Steinkraus, 1980), the
belief that failing to understand or grasp ones reality and position, will lead to social disorder. The negative
perception of disorder, in Confucian Heritage Cultures, is underscored by their elevation of social harmony Hxi
Shhu (Geis II & Holt, 2009) as a key goal for society, leading Ip (2014) to posit that a suitably
developed measure of social harmony, no less than that of happiness, could be used as a comparatively useful
measure of the well-being of Chinese societies (p. 219).
Hong Kongs low score on Individualism is reflective of this reality whereby [c]ommunication is indirect
and the harmony of the group has to be maintained, open conflicts are avoided (Hofstede, 2015, May 7 th). In other
words Hong Kong is a collectivist culture where people act in the interests of the group and not necessarily of
themselves (Hofstede, 2015, May 7th). Combined with this are high levels of Long Term Orientation, favouring
perseverance in achieving results (Hofstede, 2015, May 7th) over shortterm gratification. This is echoed in the
low scores on Indulgence (Hofstede, 2015, May 7th) whereby Hong Kong people:
17

do not put much emphasis on leisure time and control the gratification of their desires. People with this
orientation have the perception that their actions are restrained by social norms and feel that indulging
themselves is somewhat wrong.
Biggs and Watkins (1996) see these traits as being characteristic of the Chinese Learner who has a propensity for
abnegation (Tweed & Lehman, 2002, p. 91-2):
For Confucius, learning is closely tied to hard work. He spoke of effort much more than of ability (see,
e.g., 18:1). He expected nothing less than a students best effort (7:25, 14:7, 15:6), and he willingly
taught anyone who wanted to learn, regardless of their ability (7:7). He looked down on those who
pursued quick results and who wanted to avoid extended effort (14:44). He believed that practice and
single-minded effort are instrumental to attaining success (15:6, 15:32, 17:2).
These cultural factors are undoubtedly significant in measuring a construct such as subjective educational wellbeing
and require including another facet of subjective wellbeing which is more adapted to Confucian Heritage Cultures
namely Eudaimonic wellbeing.
2.4.2 Eudaimonic Wellbeing
Current research on well-being has been derived from two general perspectives: the hedonic approach,
[] and the eudaimonic approach (Ryan & Deci, 2001, p. 141) with it being the case that [t]hese two views have
given rise to different research foci and a body of knowledge that is in some areas divergent and in others
complementary (Ryan & Deci, 2001, p. 141). Debate in the field of wellbeing exists regarding meaningfulness and
whether there is more to life than happinessand even calls into question some previous findings from the field of
positive psychology (Marsh & Suttie, 2014, February 25). Eudaimonic Wellbeing is based less on the arguably
shallow foundation of pleasure and more on the profounder attribute of self-realisation or flourishing (Philips,
2006, p.5). Ryff, has used concepts from Aristotelian philosophy and Maslows (1954) higher order needs (e.g.,
self-actualization) to develop a conceptual understanding (Lee & Carey, 2013, p. 5) of Psychological Wellbeing.
For Phillips (2006) the notions of self-determination and psychological well-being are linked enabling people to
fully exercise their human capabilities (p. 5) and echoes Nussbaum and Sens (2003) Capabilities Approach which
is based on a view of living as a combination of various doings and beings, with quality of life to be assessed in
terms of the capability to achieve valuable functionings (p. 31).
A number of instruments exist to measure Eudaimonic wellbeing: Orientations to Happiness Scale
(Peterson, Park & Seligman, 2005), Psychological Wellbeing (Diener, 2009), Scales of Psychological Well-Being
(Ryff, 1989), Questionnaire of Eudaimonic Well-Being (Waterman et al., 2010). Typical constructs that are
measured include; self-acceptance, positive relations with others, being respected, contribution to the well-being of
others, autonomy, competency, environmental mastery, purpose in life, engagement and interest, and personal
growth. These examples of Eudaimonic instruments are all generally evaluated in the statement format using a
Likert scale to signal agreement or frequency of occurrence. The Educational Flourishing dimension of this
dissertations framework includes the measurement of Eudaimonic aspects of Subjective Educational Wellbeing.
18

This inclusion confers greater cultural responsiveness to the framework and appears well-suited to the Confucian
habitus in which collectivism, diligence and self-accomplishment are lauded.
2.5 Subjective Educational Wellbeing Research in Hong Kong
Some of the concerns over the applicability of the Hedonic strand of subjective wellbeing to Confucian
Heritage Cultures can be allayed as research on subjective wellbeing in different guises has been going ahead in
Hong Kong. Shek and Liu (2014a) for instance, have longitudinally worked on the Life Satisfaction in Junior
Secondary School Students in Hong Kong and their [r]esults showed that adolescents perceived life satisfaction
decreased in their junior secondary school years (p. 777) and that adolescent perceptions of family functioning
based on different indicators gradually deteriorated over time too (Shek & Liu, 2014b, p. 757). This research is
noteworthy on a number of counts first of which is that the construct of life-satisfcation is being measured in Hong
Kong and has been over a number of years. Second is that domains of subjective wellbeing, school and family, that
are also the topic of this research, are being investigating. Third is that children are the respondents. Lastly, the
results show that the research into this field is necessary and of concern tying in with the points made in the
introduction to this dissertation on the effects of the Hong Kong educational context on the psycho-social and
emotional wellbeing of children. Investigating the interplay between habitus and field in Hong Kong and the extent
to which young people positively interiorise and express satisfaction with their educational experiences is of
interest.
The Education Bureau of Hong Kong also evaluates aspects related to Subjective Educational Wellbeing in
its schools. The Assessment Program for Affective and Social Outcomes (APASO) was originally developed by
HKIED in 19992001 and launched by the EDB in 2003 given that affective and social outcomes of schooling
have been accorded high priority by the Hong Kong government in recent education reforms, which called for a
balanced education (Mok, 2015, May 7). The Education Bureau (EDB, 2013, p. 1) outlines that the APASO:
facilitates schools to measure their students performance in the social and affective domains so that
they can identify students needs in their whole person development and examine the effectiveness of
the related measures implemented in schools.
APASO bears many similarities both in the construction of its framework and its research instrument to
what is being undertaken in this research. The primary school version addresses Primary 3 to 6 students through a
questionnaire including the dimensions of; Self-Concept, Interpersonal Relationships, Attitudes to School (Quality
of School Life), Motivation, Causal Attribution, Learning Competency, Independent Learning Capacity and Values.
The questionnaire is rich and covers eponymous constructs relating to Subjective Educational Wellbeing; Parent
Relationships, Peer Relations, General Satisfaction, Negative Affect, Social Integration, Teacher-Student
Relationship and even the Social Harmony aspect of Confucian Wellbeing.

19

2.6 Explanatory Factors of Subjective Educational Wellbeing


Subjective Educational Wellbeing for the purposes of this research may be considered as a dependent
variable, measuring a state of satisfaction, fulfilment and level of affect with overall educational experiences. It is
useful to attempt to determine what factors or variables explain those levels and their variance. Rather than
measuring feelings or moods the explanatory factors seek to identify specific educational experiences and objective
factors that may impact Subjective Educational Wellbeing.
The socioecological model provides a first dimension of classification by separating school, family and
peer micro-systems. A second lens that can complement this approach is Maslows hierarchy of needs. Maslow
provides a classification of needs that must be fulfilled in order to become a fully functioning individual, tying in
with the conceptual understanding that wellbeing is linked to a state of complete needs satisfaction (Allardt, 1976;
Veenhoven, 2000). Research has been undertaken modeling what constitutes subjective wellbeing of people, using
Maslows Needs Satisfaction Hierarchy (Bourne & Francis, 2013, p. 269). The five needs (Maslow, 1943)
physiological, safety, love /belonging, esteem and self-actualisation (Figure 2.2) are categorised into deficiency and
growth needs (Maslow, 1955). Allardt (1976, p. 231) divides Needs into three categories in his Having, Loving,
Being framework grouping physiological and safety needs together and love /belonging with esteem:
(1) needs related to material and impersonal resources (Having);
(2) needs related to love, companionship, and solidarity (Loving);
(3) needs denoting self-actualization and obverse of alienation (Being);
These can be applied to objective factors as well as their subjective interpretation (Figure 2.3).
Figure 2.2: Maslows Hierarchy of Needs

Source: commons.wikimedia.org (2015)

20

Figure 2.3: Allardts Objective and Subjective Indicators of Well-being

Source: Ahonen (2010)


Allardts model has been applied to the school setting in the research of factors that might correlate with
subjective wellbeing and the quality of school life. For instance, Konu, Alanen, Lintonen and Rimpels (2002, p.
732) School Well-being Model can be utilized to construct school well-being profiles both for groups of pupils
and for schools as a whole and is structured around school conditions (having), social relationships (loving),
means for self-fulfillment (being) and the additional dimension of health (Figure 2.4). This research does not
explore health for reasons of age-appropriateness of the dimension. Ahonen (2010, p. 75) uses a regression model
to also explain School and Life satisfaction through their correlations with Having, Loving and Being factors
(Figure 2.5). Both of these groups of researchers work with data emerging from the Health Behaviour in SchoolAged Children survey.
Figure 2.4: School Wellbeing Model

Source: Konu and Rimpel (2002)


21

Figure 2.5: Model for Explaining Subjective Educational Wellbeing

Source: Ahonen (2010)


This research builds on the theoretical framework and methodology employed by Ahonnen, Konu, Alanen,
Lintonen and Rimpel in measuring, comparing and explaining Subjective Educational Wellbeing but seeks to
expand and adapt it. For one the proposed measurement of the dependent variable, rather than just including quality
of school life, includes more aspects contributing to subjective educational wellbeing and is adapted to the Hong
Kong context. Moreover, neither of the models discussed, take into account the home environment, something that
is believed necessary to this framework.
For the purposes of this research Having is termed as Conditions and Loving as Relationships. These two
needs have been sub-divided into home and school environments. For instance, students might be asked about the
quality of their relationships with their teachers and parents or if they have sufficient amount of access to computers
at school or at home. Concerning Conditions, students are asked to respond on a range of factors which relate to
workloads, physical activity, rest, resources or the school environment. Concerning Relationships, students make
evaluations about friendships, collaboration, expectancies, fairness, strictness, support and encouragement. Peer
relationships are considered as being divided between school and home settings as these are considered to be the
two settings where primary school children primarily meet and interact with peers, siblings and friends. Lastly,
Being is referred to as Learning Experiences. As with Maslow, Allardts Being refers to higher order growth
outcomes leading to self-actualisation. In the educational domain Learning Experiences are an indicator of this and
while Conditions and Relationships are fulfilled at school and at home, Learning Experiences are considered to be
an internal and individual process of meta-cognition.
2.7 Summary of the Subjective Educational Wellbeing Conceptual Framework
To conclude let us resume the theoretical framework (Figure 2.6) being employed. This dissertation fits
into broader research area of child wellbeing and rights. The research topic examines the educational domain of
subjective wellbeing or the subjective dimension of educational wellbeing and is termed as Subjective Educational
Wellbeing. The Subjective Educational Wellbeing construct and instrument includes three dimensions all
22

specifically evaluating the educational aspect of subjective wellbeing as opposed to an overall judgement of life.
These dimensions include; educational satisfaction, educational affect and educational flourishing. The three may
be aggregated or used separately to obtain indications of Subjective Educational Wellbeing.
Combining, Allardts and the Bronfenbrenners model, the framework includes the school, home and
individual in the search for factors that have relationships with Subjective Educational Wellbeing. These are viewed
through the prism of Maslows satisfaction of needs. The school and home environment are seen as places where
children may fulfil their material, social and emotional and needs. The individual is seen as where attitudes to
learning are interiorised leading to self-fulfilment and self-actualisation.
Figure 2.6: Subjective Educational Wellbeing Framework

23

CHAPTER 3. RESEARCH SETTING & CONTEXTUALISATION


3.1 Macro-System
3.1.1 Historical
Hong Kong is a major metropolis and resembles a city-state. It is of a small size, geographically measuring
only 1,104 km but has a large population for its size of over seven million inhabitants, making it very dense. Hong
Kong was a colony of the British Empire from 1841 to 1997 upon which it was returned to Chinese sovereignty.
Many often term Hong Kong as the gateway to China but it is also the case that Hong Kong is a gateway to the socalled Western world for many people living there. In Hong Kong the global local nexus takes on a new meaning.
3.1.2 Economic
Hong Kong is a port, facilitating the exchange of trade but also ideas and is impregnated with a commercial
spirit. It is a major international trading hub with its GDP per capita ranking 9th worldwide (IMF, 2015, July 9). The
historical context, size and geographic position of Hong Kong mean that it looks towards the outside for commerce
to China and internationally. Hong Kong is a market-driven and a highly competitive economy which is reflected in
the general culture but also administratively with a small government credo which involves a surplus accumulation
policy (de Beaufort Wijnholds & Sondergaard, 2007), low levels of taxation and a minimal involvement in welfare
resulting in a high degree of social inequality and stratification with a GINI coefficient of 53.7 (CIA, 2011) the 11 th
worst worldwide. Hong Kong does not score very highly in the 2015 World Happiness Report (Helliwell, Layard &
Sachs, 2015) in line with Pickett and Wilkinsons (2007) findings which show that higher levels of inequality are
inversely correlated with wellbeing. All the same, Hong Kong has a strong core administration and bureaucracy
which oversees key social services such as health or education and upholds the rule of law.
Education is the largest outlay of the Hong Kong government accounting for 18.3 % of its budget (Figure
3.1). However, the Hong Kong government proposes a relatively restricted number of state services and does not
have the same expenditures that a large country would have meaning that in real terms the budget is not very large
and when spending is brought down to per capita investments on primary education, with Hong Kong ranking 21 st
vis--vis 34 of its OECD counterparts (Figure 3.2.). Levels of investments notwithstanding, agreement on the social
utility of education is a shared vision at many levels of society and the link is made between education, individual
competitiveness and economic prosperity (CDC, 2001; CDC, 2002; CDC, 2004).

24

Figure 3.1: Hong Kong Government Budget 2014-15

Source: Hong Kong, The Government of (2014) (www.budget.gov.hk).


Figure 3.2: Hong Kong Expenditure per Primary School Student Compared with OECD Countries using
Purchasing Power Parity.
COUNTRY

Public expenditure per student, PPP$

YEAR

LUXEMBOURG
NORWAY
SWITZERLAND
DENMARK
SWEDEN
AUSTRIA
UNITED STATES
ICELAND
UNITED
KINGDOM
AUSTRALIA
BELGIUM
IRELAND
SLOVENIA
NETHERLANDS
ITALY
FINLAND
JAPAN
GERMANY
SPAIN
NEW ZEALAND
HONG KONG
FRANCE
ISRAEL
KOREA
PORTUGAL
POLAND
SLOVAK
REPUBLIC
ESTONIA
HUNGARY
CZECH REPUBLIC
CHILE
MEXICO
CANADA
GREECE
TURKEY

20703.87818
12137.88278
11305.95671
11065.06895
10837.50585
10427.06736
10387.15055
9393.49933

2010
2010
2010
2009
2010
2010
2010
2010

9106.67877
8805.06869
8703.03925
8289.43655
8252.9267
7752.17302
7729.03237
7586.39445
7529.85733
6873.36365
6782.35917
6558.17998
6506.08127
6411.27227
6263.53824
6210.95947
5619.61467
5493.28652

2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2009
2010
2010

5170.62154
5152.48728
4628.26717
3947.52565
2737.82743
2189.15986
NA
NA
NA

2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
2010
NA
NA
NA

Source: UNESCO, Institute for Statistics (2014) (www.uis.unesco.org/datacentre)


25

3.1.3 Political
Hong Kong is a part of the Peoples Republic of China, but is a Special Administrative Region which
means that it is ruled under the principle of One Country Two Systems (China, 1990) which is outlined in the Basic
Law of Hong Kong (China, 1990) giving it a considerable amount of autonomy. The Hong Kong political system
includes an independent judiciary, a legislative branch and an executive which is in charge of various ministries,
known as bureaus or departments (Figure 3.3). The Education Bureau is under its direct supervision through the
Secretary for Education; a human resources specialist from the banking sector. The economic reality of the city
translates itself into political discourses which in turn mould the system.
Figure 3.3: Organisational Diagram of the Government of the Hong Kong S.A.R.

Source: Hong Kong, The Government of (2015b) (www.gov.hk)


The Hong Kong administration is heavily involved in setting the policy direction of the territorys
education system with the handover period being especially notable by the profuseness and frenetic pace of policymaking and reform. Four major structures are involved in managing the system, creating curriculum content,
piloting education policy and administering examinations: the Education Bureau (EDB), Curriculum Development
Council (CDC) and the Education Commission (EC) and Hong Kong Examinations & Assessment Authority
(HKEAA). The educational reform agenda of Hong Kong in recent years has been a manifestation of the different
26

directions in which it is being pulled; it seeks to have a global outlook while celebrating its Chinese values and
distinctiveness but above all wants to perform (Tse, 2005).
3.1.4 Socio-Educational
The colonial past of Hong Kong has contributed to the isomorphism of the Hong Kong education system.
Twenty-first century globalisation and the international situation of Hong Kong play their part too in pulling Hong
Kong into the world culture of schooling. Both structural and curricular reforms have called upon global networks
of expertise. The OECD-partnered report on education in Hong Kong (Llewellyn, 1982) was influential in setting
the course for educational reform. An ancestor of the audit firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (EMB, 1998) was
involved in the restructuration process of the EDB. The current curriculum has also been heavily influenced by
global policy circulation through international benchmarking (EC, 1999; CDC 2000). Right down to the classroom,
publishers such as Pearson litter the desks.
From a structural perspective, managerialist discourses of education have taken foot in Hong Kong,
espousing its neo-liberal values. Decision-making has been devolved to schools as well as budgets through the
School-Based Management Policy (EDB, 2014). Competition and choice, albeit limited to most, is promoted in the
hope of bettering Quality School Education (EC, 1997) through the benefits of market efficiency. Control is
maintained through an audit and accountability culture of Quality Assurance (EMB, 1998). In this spirit, teacher
professionalization has been heavily emphasised too (EC, 1984; EC, 1986). The Hong Kong government has
invested in infrastructure projects including the construction of new Millennium schools (EMB, 2000), the School
Improvement Programme (EC, 1992; EMB, 2000) and the development of the divisive Native-English Teacher
Scheme, however the trend is that in recent years educational budgets have been getting smaller rather than bigger
(Figure 3.4). Dwindling birthdates and school enrolments have also impacted the system with school closures and
Temporary Voluntary Class Reduction Schemes (EDB, 2010).
Figure 3.4: Hong Kong Government Budget 1974 2015 % Spending on Education

Source: Trading Economics (2015, June 8) (www.tradingeconomics.com).

27

With the exception of Government Schools, the EDB does not actively manage schools in Hong Kong. The
break-down of the territorys school typologies reveals itself to be heteroclite with different systems existing,
themselves often made up of sub-systems. These groupings apply to both primary and secondary schooling sectors
and include Government Schools, Aided Schools, Direct Subsidy Schools (DSS), Private Local Schools, Private
Independent Schools (PIS), English Schools Foundation (ESF) Schools and International Schools (Table 5.1)
Table 3.1: Primary School Typologies in Hong Kong

Government
Aided
Public Sector

2002
41
658
699

2015
34
497
531

% Change
-17
-24
-24

Private Local
DSS
PIS
ESF
International
Private Sector

60
NA
NA
10
35
105

57
23
8
10
35
133

-5

0
0
+27

All Sectors

804

664

-17

Source: Adamson & Li (2005), p. 51; Hong Kong, Education Bureau, (2015) (www.edb.gov.hk)
Since 2002, Government Schools and Aided Schools have considerably been reduced in number (Table
5.1) impacting the fee-free public sector. Despite this, the Aided sector is the largest in Hong Kong and accounts
for the vast majority of schools. Adamson and Li (2005, p. 50) explain that as a result of the post-Handover crises,
[s]ubventions to aided schools were reduced, resulting in teacher redundancies. Salaries were cut, as the
government struggled to contain the budget deficit and that combined with this, the shortage of primary students
also affected the survival of aided and government primary schools. The Government though possibly took this an
opportunity to push forward a policy agenda.
By contrast, there has been an expansion of the private sector. Late twentieth century Hong Kong saw free
mass universal education for all citizens as a policy priority but in the twenty-first it is the merits of public-private
partnerships that are vented with the Hong Kong government nurturing the privatisation of education. DSS schools
are an illustration the governments marketization ideology. The scheme provides subsidies in order to enhance
the quality of private school education. Under the scheme, schools are free to decide on their curriculum, fees and
entrance requirements and in March 1999, the Executive Council accepted the recommendations of a review of
private school policy to allow aided primary schools to join the DSS from the 2000-01 school year onwards
(DSSSC, 2015, August 15). DSS schools now stand at 23 in number in the primary sector. Private Independent
28

Schools (PIS) exist too and operate without subventions for students but as the British Council (2007) outlines, they
are also supported by the government through land and capital grants (p. 4). International Schools also fit into
this category of private schools and new schools are being actively enticed by the government to establish
themselves in Hong Kong (British Council, 2007) in order to make the city an international education hub.
3.2 Meso-System
3.2.1 Historical
Two groups are under investigation in this study, with the first belonging to the Government School system
and the second to the English Schools Foundation (ESF) system. The history of the two systems is intertwined with
both finding their origins in the same colonial administration but evolving and mutating over time so as to adapt to
the prevailing geomorphic shifts; their paths now diverge. The Hong Kong Governments involvement in education
began during the colonial period with the first government schools appearing in 1841 (Adamson & Li, 2005) and
were in fact put in place to cater for the needs of the Hong Kong elite (Adamson & Li, 2005) many of whom were
members of the Hong Kong colonial administrations English-speaking expatriate civil service working for the
British Empire (Yamato, 2001). Changing demographics, the advent of mass compulsory education and the
handover to China have meant that the governments mission with regards to education has changed. Quite
naturally, the emphasis has moved from focusing on the colonial elite to the local Chinese people. To anticipate
these changes the Hong Kong Government restructured its involvement with the remnants of the colonial system
(Bray, 1997, p. 161):
The body created to take charge of the governments schools for expatriates was called the English
Schools Foundation (ESF) and was established in 1967. The creation of this body permitted the
government to meet what it considered to be its obligations to the children of expatriate families while
avoiding accusations of distorted priorities and excessive funding for a racial minority (Bray & Ieong,
1996). The move was a far-sighted initiative which avoided some of the tensions which, in the absence
of such an arrangement, would probably have later become considerable.
In addition to the four schools running under this system, six more English Speaking Government Schools were
transferred to the ESF in 1979 (Bray & Koo, 2005; Yamato, 2001).
The Government Schools system for local students can therefore trace the form in which it currently stands
back to this period in which the government provision of schooling for locals and colonials was being dissociated.
One might have expected such an event to be the catalyst for an expansion in the provision of Government
schooling but it is the opposite that has occurred with Government Schools having seen not growth in their numbers
but rather a contraction. Taking figures for both primary and secondary (Table 5.2), we can see that over three
distinct historical periods, post-war, colonial transition and post-Handover, the numbers have decreased and halved.
This can in part be explained by changing demographics and the transfer of schools to the ESF. However, it is also
reflective of the Governments laissez-faire ideology towards the provision of education which has contributed to
drawing resources away from the Government School sector in favour of others.
29

Table 3.2: Change in the Number of Government Schools 1977 - 2015

Year

Number

% Total Schools

% Change

1977

112

4%

1990

92

6%

-17.8%

1996

83

6%

-9.8%

2002

77

5.5%

-7.2%

2015

65

5.1%

-15.5%

Overall Change

-41.9%

Source: Manzon (2003); Adamson & Li (2005); Hong Kong, Education Bureau (2015)
3.2.2 Economic
ESF schools are different from International Schools which are entirely private. ESF schools come under
the category of being Aided Schools and are government-funded. Obligations under the Government / ESF
relationship have meant that the Hong Kong Government, as with Aided Schools or DSS Schools, has provided
annual recurrent Government subsidies of about $278 million (position as at the 2012-13 financial year)
(LEGCO, 2013, p. 1) and effectively means that every ESF primary school student receives HK$20,940. The
recurrent subsidy contributes to staffing expenses and operational costs. In addition to an annual recurrent
subvention, the ESF also receives capital subvention in the form of capital grant or interest-free loan from the
Government (LEGCO, 2013, p. 1).
Although for historical reasons the ESF is often grouped together with Aided Schools, the functioning of
the ESF is closer to the more recently created DSS School category in its ability to complement government
funding with school fees with the justification being made that this is necessary in order to pay for superior
facilities and higher salaries (Adamson & Li, 2005, p. 52). The historical obligations to the children of expatriate
families that the Hong Kong government saw to have, have now though evolved and the agreement between the
Government and the ESF came to be reviewed in 2011. As of 2016/7 the subvention will be phased out in
increments up until its entire removal in 2028/29.
Since its creation in 1967 the ESF has considerably changed and in 2015 resembles a corporation. The ESF
has substantially branched out into parallel markets such as the shadow education market running a number of
tutorial centres and providing extra-curricular / pre-school activities such as languages, arts and sports through ESF
Educational Services Limited. Under the ESF group are also 5 bi-sessional private kindergartens, which despite
some changes in administrative criteria, remain the preferred route to gain access to an ESF primary school.
30

Ambitiously, and to meet growing demand, the ESF has also founded two schools in recent years, Renaissance
College and Discovery College, under the PIS system. The decision on the part of the government to remove the
subvention is probably partially in response to ESFs postcolonial economic affluence, with an operating income in
2014 of HK$ 1,978 million and assets of HK$ 2,224 million (ESF. 2014), but also a catalyst in pushing ESF to
aggressively pursue a new economic model.
The ESF is now seeking new lines of revenue from its customers. Yield-management systems have been
introduced through Individual and Corporate Nomination Rights which allow those who can afford it, to fast-track
their applications for HK$ 500,000 or HK$ 2,000,000. Up until 2015 a refundable deposit was required but has
been replaced by a $HK 38,000 Non-refundable Capital Levy. ESF are also aggressively restructuring their pricing
policy too, with 2014/5 seeing a 6 % increase in fees on top of other increases of 4.34%, 2.75% and 4.83% that
have occurred since 2010 (Standard, 2012, April 27). The ESF are now even going as far as charging students HK$
2000 for the privilege of submitting their candidature without the guarantee of attending an interview.
Unlike DSS, PIS, International or ESF schools, access to Government Schools is entirely free paid for out
of tax-payers money. There are nine years of free universal compulsory education which includes six years of
primary schooling. The governments expenditure on Government Primary Schools is of HK $ 1,025 million (Hong
Kong, 2015a) and accounts for 2 % of its budget on education. Teachers are paid for directly by the government
through Recurrent Salaries Grants (EDB, 1994) which seems to encourage the selection of temporary contract
teachers, rather than permanent staff who benefit from a civil servant status. This leaves day to day operational
running costs ex-capital investments to be provided for which is done through the recurrent Operating Expenses
Block Grant (EDB, 1994). The economic comparison of the two systems appears slim.
3.2.3 Political
The EDB supervises Government Schools but they interestingly do not feature in its organisational diagram
(Figure 3.5) as do Aided and DSS Schools. It is the case that they used to be included under Schools Division
(Figure 3.6) where we could find a Government Schools Section. At first thought, this is rather surprising but less so
when taken in conjunction with the various circumstances that have been described. The organisational chart is an
artefact which literally and symbolically represents the lower levels of importance accorded to Government
Schools.
Government Schools are monitored and controlled through a number of mechanisms. School-based
Management Committees (Figure 3.7) give EDB officials a prominent position in the organisational structure and
are the bridge between macro, meso and micro systems. Professional appraisals are carried out through Panel
Inspections and External School Reviews. Assessment of learning outcomes and achievement is done through the
Territory-Wide Systems Assessment which measures the degree to which schools have met the Basic Competency
Attainment and is compared to other schools. Finally, enrolments through the Primary Allocation System measure
the capacity for a school to attract new intakes which in turn is determined by a schools ability to deliver in terms of
the Secondary Schools Allocations Procedure which is a factor of attraction for parents.
31

Figure 3.5: Organisation Chart for the EDB

Source: EC (2013)
Figure 3.6: Organisation Chart for the ex-Education Department 1998

Source: EMB (1998)


32

Figure 3.7: Government Primary School Management Committee Structure


Membership of the SMC
The Members of the SMC shall be persons who have been:
(a) nominated by the Chairman of the SMC; and
(b) appointed by the Permanent Secretary
and shall include seven to eleven members
Chairman
A Deputy Secretary, a Principal Assistant Secretary or a Principal Education Officer
or any officer of the Education Bureau appointed by the Permanent Secretary shall be
the Chairman of the Committee
Principal
The Principal is an ex-officio member
Teachers
2 teacher members
Parents
2 parent members
Alumni
1 or more alumni members
Independent Member
Not less than 1 independent member
Appointments
The Permanent Secretary may appoint 2 persons not stipulated to be the Members of
the SMC

Source: Adapted from EDB (2012)


Despite having been nominally under the tutelage of the EDB, the ESF has retained a great deal of
autonomy. The arrangement is not dissimilar to that which exists between Aided Schools and their School
Sponsoring Bodies (Hong Kong, 2005) though this will end along with the subvention turning the ESF into a PIS.
Under the ESF umbrella grouping (Figure 3.8), individual schools have traditionally retained a great deal of
independence from the ESF itself reflecting a disparate makeup of school typologies. However, this appears to be
changing with a shift towards more integration and centralisation which can be felt in particular in the domains of
examinations and curriculum where more system-wide standardisation is sought. Despite the centralising impetus,
ESF management (Figure 3.9) has down-sized (Audit Commission, 2004) partially as a result of the governments
audit of the ESF in 2004 relating to a series of financial and governance scandals.
As with Government Schools, oversight at ESF Schools is provided through boards which are called School
Councils (Figure 3.10) and give authority to officials from the ESF Centre. The standardisation of assessment
ensures that individual schools are now measured with the same yardstick meaning more visibility and thus
accountability. While the ESF Centre does not have inspectors per se, it is involved in school inspections through
the School Council but has also outsourced many quality assurance activities to international accrediting bodies
such as the Council of International Schools or the International Baccalaureate Organisation.

33

Figure 3.8: Organisational Structure of the ESF

Source: ESF (2015f) (www.esf.org.hk)


Figure 3.9: ESF Centre Organisation Structure

ESF Centre
Chief Executive Officer
Education Department
Head of Student Support Department
Human Resources Department
Finance Department
Facilities Development Department
Advancement Department
Communications Department
Source: ESF (2015d)

34

Figure 3.10: ESF Primary School Council Structure

Ex-Officio representatives

N/A

N/A

Principal & Vice Principals

Source: ESF (2013b), p. 6.


3.2.4 Socio-Educational
The size in terms of numbers of schools and student populations between ESF and Government Schools is
comparable though the Government system remains considerably larger (Table 3.3). The demographics between
and within both systems are diverse owing to the local / international dichotomy but also to the variety of areas in
which the children reside; a factor of stratification within Hong Kong. ESF schools tend to be situated in select
residential areas whereas Government Schools are in less affluent neighbourhoods. Within-system diversity is
illustrated by the Government Schools being evenly split between Hong Kong Island (11), Kowloon (13) and the
New Territories (10) (EDB, 2015d, June 8) and ESF Schools also being spread around Hong Kong (Figure 3.11).
Hong Kong is bounded by centre / periphery relationships and the social determinism that arise from them and the
Island is at the centre. This is reflected by the reputations of the schools and their populations. The nature of the
entrance criteria in both ESF and Government systems places the onus on catchment areas meaning that preferential
access is given to those who live in the areas adjacent to the schools creating barriers to entry.
The ethnicity of students attending Government Schools is overwhelmingly Hong Kong Chinese in line
with the Hong Kong population (Table 3.4) but also includes around 1.3 % of Newly-Arrived Children from the
mainland (EDB, 2015c, June 8) and a discreet number of Non-Chinese Speaking minorities. The ESF system is a lot
more ethnically diverse which is advertised as a selling point. The ESF states that over 70 nationalities were
represented in our schools in 2013-14 (ESF, 2014a, p. 21). However, despite only 17.5% of students declaring
themselves as Hong Kong nationals and 4.4 % Chinese (Figure 3.12) 44.4 % are of Chinese ethnicity (Figure 3.13)
35

partially reflective of the phenomenon of overseas Chinese returning to Hong Kong in recent years. A further 7 %
are from South-East Asia (e.g. Japan, Korea, Taiwan) and 12.4 % are of Eurasian ethnicity meaning that ESF
Schools are international but heavily populated with children from Confucian Heritage backgrounds, illustrating a
postcolonial change in ESF demographics.
Staffing demographics of ESF schools still hark back to the colonial epoch drawing predominantly from
Commonwealth nations (80 %) with British citizens accounting for a majority at around 66 % (Figure 3.14).
Though the ESF has changed its market-base, its selling point remains providing British / International-styled
education which in Hong Kong is often equated with the colour of skin. This translates into an Anglo-centric
conception of teaching in contrast with the Government School systems more Sino-centric approach where
management and educational staff are with rare exceptions Hong Kong Chinese.
Table 3.3: Number of ESF and Government Schools and their Enrolments

Primary

ESF
Secondary

Total

12

20

34

31

65

8750

8815

17565

21131

23540

44671

Number of
Schools
Enrolments

Government
Primary Secondary

Note: ESF Schools include its Special Needs School and its two through-train PIS.
Source: EDB (2015c, June 8) (www.edb.gov.hk); ESF (2014b)
Figure 3.11: Locations of ESF School in Hong Kong

Source: ESF (2015c)


36

Total

Table 3.4: Hong Kong 2011 Population Census by Ethnicity

Ethnicity

Number

Proportion

Chinese

6 620 393

93.6%

Indonesian

133 377

1.9%

Filipino

133 018

1.9%

White

55 236

0.8%

Indian

28 616

0.4%

Pakistani

18 042

0.3%

Nepalese

16 518

0.2%

Japanese

12 580

0.2%

Thai

11 213

0.2%

Other Asian

12 247

0.2%

Others (1)

30 336

0.4%

Total

7 071 576

100%

Source: Hong Kong, Census and Statistics Department (2011) (www. censtatd.gov.hk)

Figure 3.12: Nationality of Students System-Wide at ESF

Source: ESF (2014b), p.21.

37

Figure 3.13: Ethnicity of Students System-Wide at ESF

Source: ESF (2014b), p. 22.


Figure 3.14: Sample of ESF Staff Intake by Nationality since 2006

Source: ESF (2007); ESF (2009); ESF (2011); ESF (2012) ; ESF (2013); ESF (2014b)
38

For historical reasons ESF Schools have traditionally followed the British curriculum and sat British
examinations. Changing times and the evolving demographic base of ESF mean that globally comparable
qualifications, standards and metrics that allow mobility have become more desirable. In the past two decades the
International Baccalaureate (IB) has become increasingly popular in the Asia Pacific region (Lee, Hallinger &
Walker, 2012) and the ESF has made a system-wide transition to IB-related products. While the IB has its critics,
Primary Years Programme (PYP) which is used in ESF primary schools presents a distinctly progressive
conception of learning as is outlined in the ESFs (2002, p. 1) curricular mission statement:
ESF students engage with an international, transdisciplinary programme designed to foster the
development of the whole child, not just in the classroom but also through other means of learning. The
curriculum focuses on the academic, social, physical, emotional and cultural developments of the child.
Though the IB offers certain summative features, the PYP focuses more on formative assessment and
criterion-referenced assessment. To make up for this, all ESF Primary School students also take part in a number of
tests such as the International Schools Assessments (ISA), Interactive Computerised Assessment (InCas) or
Performance Indicators in Primary Schools (PIPS). The tests are not actively prepared for but rather seen as a way
of providing a snapshot of where a student stands (KJS, 2014) which is not directly related or correlated to the
curriculum. Though such assessments do not involve students being given a grade or a ranked within their classes,
they are norm-referenced. Therefore the ESF system in its IB operationalisation has a progressive outlook and seeks
to provide a modern liberal education (ESF, 2008, p. 7) but is competitive all the same as tests such as InCas or
ISA invite comparison of students performances which then trickles down into classrooms.
The policy papers (EC, 1999; 2000) that set the overall educational direction for Government and local
schools and their operationalised versions for primary school curriculum development (CDC, 2001; 2002; 2004)
which define learning outcomes and strategies to achieve them are not dissimilar to the PYP. Best practices put
forward and terminologies employed include many progressive and liberal aspects. However, the discourses appear
out of phase with the educational realities that can be witnessed in the field. The documents remain guidelines only
and when combined with the EDBs laissez-faire approach mean that the intended curriculum is often not fully
adopted with schools preferring to affirm their autonomy and continue with traditional tried and tested methods.
Economic factors also act as a brake to the implementation of the envisioned curriculum, as such a form of
curricular organisation is labour and capital intensive requiring the investment of additional resources. But it is the
selective nature of the local education system which plays the preponderant role and is the driver in shaping
curriculum and pedagogy thus explaining the gap between theory and practice. Students at Government Schools
experience a competitive examinations regime which begins at the age of six and includes two end-of-term
examinations and two mid-term tests every year and are supplemented by the Territory-Wide Systems Assessment
in Primary 3 and 6 which measures if the students and the school are meeting its basic competency targets. These
examinations are extensively prepared for, both in and out of class in contrast with the ESF. The taught syllabus is
almost entirely reflective of this factor.

39

Despite their lack of funding, Government Schools are often sought after with entry being thoroughly
prepared for by families during their childrens preschool years, so as to present a good dossier upon enrolment date
but also to get a head start and be more competitive at primary school. Indeed, the anticipated movement of
students from primary to secondary, shapes the entire primary system through its backwash effect, placing pressure
on students right from year one. Government School cohorts are not as lucky as their ESF counterparts and on top
of the entrance requirements of the Primary One Admission System they must also face the same again for
graduation with the Secondary School Places Allocation System (SSPA) which will sort them into a secondary
school destination. Secondary schools are banded into three levels, the access to which is determined by how well a
student has performed at Primary School. Under the allocation process of SSPA, students standardised internal
assessment results at the end of P5, and both in mid-year and at the end of P6 are scaled, then divided equally into 3
allocation bands with a view to determining the order of allocation (EDB, 2013). As a result of these factors
primary schooling is seen as a high-stakes process, with students competing to get into the best primary schools
which will then allow them to better compete in order to enter a Band 1 secondary school and subsequently
university.
The ESF system is competitive too, but less so. The admission criteria to ESF Schools, economic ones
aside, largely contribute to this. Entrance to ESF schools is selective and over-subscribed and as of June 2014,
there were about 3,000 on the waiting list for ESF primary and secondary schools (ESF, 2015e); about double the
possible intakes for Year 1 and 7 combined. Many ESF students are of non-Anglo-Saxon descent and must prove
their need and ability to evolve in an English-speaking environment but also display cultural characteristics (i.e.
non-Chinese) that will allow them to function in the ESF learning environment (ESF, 2015h). Families must
present a dossier and the desired ESF characteristics are evaluated during an interview process in which students
are assessed too (Figure 3.15). Many such families prepare for this and it is not rare to see significantly higher
English language literacy levels in Asian students upon entry than their Commonwealth counterparts. Schooling at
ESF is impregnated too by the CHC cultural background of many of the parents whose ethos of high demands
creates emulation in other populations too, staff included. Although some are trying to escape the pressures of the
local system, certain parents all the same question the level academic expectations and the outcomes that the IB can
deliver (CIS, 2014). Undoubtedly the customer mentality that arises from the existence of private systems
contributes to this with parents seeking returns on investments; a form of pressure which in turn is passed on to the
children, who are expected to vie for top global university places. Despite all of this, one important factor is
determinant in relieving much pressure from ESF students, which is that they are guaranteed a place at an ESF
Secondary School (ESF, 2015i).

40

Figure 3.15: English Schools Foundation Admission Path

Source: ESF (2015c) (www.esf.edu.hk)


3.3 Micro-System
3.3.1 Historical
The International School finds its origins in 1902 when it was known as the Kowloon British School. The
original building is the oldest surviving school building constructed for foreign residents living in Hong Kong
(Antiquities and Monuments Office, 2015, August 14). The school has changed a lot though since its colonial
origins mutating through different forms including The Central British School and was closed during the Japanese
occupation of British-occupied Hong Kong. The school remains in Kowloon but has moved a more serene
upmarket residential district where it was established in its closest form to present at Perth Street in the 1950s,
dropping the British connotations and importantly allowing other nationalities to attend something which had until
then been the exclusive right of British nationals (KGV, 2015, August 15). Under its reinvented self, and becoming
a part of the ESF, the school continued to prove popular (ESF, 2015g):
To cope with the huge demand for school places, KJS has been operating on a split campus
arrangement since the early 1990s, with one campus at Perth Street and the other at Rose Street. With
two campuses so far away from each other, school operations and resource allocation became
extremely inefficient.

41

In Hong Kong this setup could be seen as a privilege, as local schools with a similar number of students generally
accommodate themselves with one campus of a similar size only. However, in order that the whole student body
can be housed under one roof, ESF started discussions with the Education Bureau in late 2008 to apply for capital
funding for the KJS redevelopment project (ESF, 2015g). The reasons given are that [i]t is the only school under
the School Sponsor which operates at two separate locations but also that the deterioration of the condition of the
school buildings, the learning and teaching environment has been affected, giving rise to a pressing need for
redevelopment (LEGCO, 2011, p. 3). In 2013 a new state-of-the-art whole school campus was opened (KJS,
2015, August 15) at a cost HK$417 million (ESF, 2015g) and funded at a height of 45% by the government with a
capital grant of HK$187 million (LEGCO, 2011).
The Local School was founded in 1949 (CHSC, 2015, August 15). The school remains in the same location
where it was first built in Wan Chai, but was demolished and rebuilt in 1963 to expand its size. The neighbourhood
is dense, busy, noisy and polluted and, houses the citys notorious Red Light District along with a methadone clinic,
metres away from the school. Between 1940 and 1971 Hong Kong saw its population triple (Adamson & Li, 2005)
resulting from mass immigration from the PRC. To cope with this and reflecting a more benevolent post-war
approach from the colonial administration mass compulsory education was pushed forward, although not without
difficulties. Being hard-pushed to accommodate the huge rise in demand for education, ad hoc solutions such as
roof-top schools (Chung & Ngan, 2002) or half-day-section schools were employed. As Bray (2008, p. 19)
explains:
The main purpose of double-shift schooling is to increase the supply of school places while limiting the
strain on the budget. Introduction of double shifts allows a single set of buildings and facilities to serve
more pupils. This may be especially important in urban areas, where land is scarce and buildings are
expensive. Double-shift schooling has helped many countries move towards universal primary and
secondary education.
Adamson and Li (2005, p. 47) observe that while [i]ntended as a temporary measure, such primary schools were
still common at the end of the century, despite the governments stated commitment to move towards all-day
schooling, as policy priorities had shifted first to secondary schooling and then to tertiary institutions. The Local
School is one such school and since the 1950s operates 30 classes from Primary 1 to 6 in the AM Section who then
vacate the premises for the same-sized PM Section. It is one of the four last half-day-section schools in Hong Kong
and the last government one (EDB, 2011). As of 2015 the school will transition to whole-day schooling, with one
section remaining in the building and the other moving to another similar but smaller 1960s campus that has been
used for temporary purposes by at least five other schools over the years. No redevelopment is involved for either
of the sections.
3.3.2 Economic
The Local Schools current campus is built on a site area of 1500 metres (LEGCO, 2000) (the flagship
Hong Kong Apple Store measures approximately the same size) and has a gross floor area of 4000 square metres
42

(CHSC, 2015) in vivid contrast with the new International School campus 16000 square metres (ESF, 2015g)
sprawling over a site area of around 12000 square metres. The Local Schools enrolment has decreased from 992 in
2000 (LEGCO, 2000) to 769 as of 2015 (HRGPSPM, 2015) but remains comparable to the International Schools
population of 900 with both having 30 classes over six year-levels (Table 5.5). When brought back to the per capita
allocation of space the Local School students are allocated 5.2 m2 per individual compared to 17.7 m2 at the
International School which also uses a very much smaller land to size ratio making for a more spacious
environment too.
Concerning staff (Table 5.7) the Local School has a workforce of 65 (49 teaching and 16 non-teaching) and
the International School 120 While not all of the staff in the International School are in direct contact with the
children many are. Each class is made up of teaching teams including a Class Teacher and an Educational
Assistant. Regularly other Educational Specialists are present in classrooms providing assistance and interventions
on punctual requirements such Special Needs or Literacy. Moreover thanks to the socio-economic standing of the
families of children at the International School, a strong home-school partnership exists. Beyond the value that is
placed on cultural capital within the family sphere in this grouping, it is the resource of time which is determinant,
with many families having by choice one non-working parent. These parents are actively rostered in to provide
assistance in class and are used as a resource by the school. At times it is not rare to see half a dozen adults in a
class of 30 students. This does not occur in the Local School, in part owing to the culture of the establishment, but
also because many in the community are from families where both parents work. Crucially though it is smaller
numbers of staff that impacts the allocation of adults to children meaning that in general classes of a size of around
26-27, the official figure for small class teaching (EDB, 2008), are taught by a single teacher. If we calculate the
ratio of adults to children in both schools we can see again the privileged position of International School having 1
adult to 7.5 children and the Local School 1 adult to 11.8 children.
Continuing with staffing, we can also observe that pay disparities exist between the two schools too.
Government and ESF Schools have two different payscales, the justification being given that foreign teachers need
higher remuneration in order to attract them from overseas and find adequate accommodation in Hong Kong,
supposing that local Chinese teachers do not have the same needs. The EDB applies a similar line of thinking and
pay structure to the Native-English Teachers under its employment serving in the NET Scheme, highlighting how
in postcolonial Hong Kong descent and ethnicity remain a source of privilege. International School teachers thus
have an average salary 50 % superior to their Local School counterparts, at HKD 711,012 (ESF, 2015a) compared
to HKD 443,370 (EDB, 2015a, June 8).
Annual school fees at the International School are of HK$74,100 and along with the government recurrent
subvention to the ESF amounting to about $20,940 per primary student (LEGCO, 2013, p. 5), brings the total
outlay per child to HK$ 95,040. Basing ourselves on these figures, which do not include other lines of income such
as rentals or the interest accrued on deposits, we can project that the International School has annual revenues of
HK$ 85.5 million though its accounts show a lower a lower figure of HK$ 59.0 million (KJS, 2014, p. 27) of which
staff expenses account for 88.7 %. Basing ourselves on the figures for Hong Kong Government Primary Schools
expenditure (Hong Kong, 2015a) we can see that on average HKD 30 million is spent per school with a subsequent
43

part spent on salaries too despite their lower levels and number of teachers to pay. This amounts to a spending on
average of HK$39,000 per primary student in the Government School system, more than half of what is spent on
their International School counterparts. The residual budget that is available to the International School for
operational needs is thus higher. This may serve to address punctual needs which arise during a school year for
instance regarding specific educational needs for staffing but it primarily serves to provide a quality school
environment that is well-resourced and maintained.
To complement this, the International School has a highly-developed Parent-Teacher Association and
thanks to a parent population of relatively high socio-economic extra funding for bespoke projects is easily
available through raffles, school fetes and other. In the last seven years the International Schools PTA have
donated in the region of HK$2,000,000 (KJS, 2015, p. 5). Parent-Teacher Association events at the Local School
involve budgeting which tunnel is the cheapest way off Hong Kong Island on an outing even if it means hours spent
sitting in traffic. Concretely, this difference in operational budgets translates itself into lower levels of equipment
and educational resources for the Local School. The list is long and this dissertation does aim to provide a
repertory. What can be said though is that objective structural differences between the two schools are great and
include; air-conditioning, ventilation, sound-proofing, accessibility, child-adapted and safety-proofed environments
and equipments, nurse, special-needs department, toilet paper, decoration, information-technology equipment, ICTbased learning technologies, teaching resources, books, toys, field trips etc. As a final illustration of the point, the
principal teaching resource of the Local School, the textbook, is outsourced to the individual for purchase.
3.3.3 Political
The structures of the two schools bear similarities and differences. Both have oversight systems through the
SMC and the School Council, whose makeups are similar. The school management teams are comparable too with
the Local School having a Principal and two Deputies Heads and the bigger International School having one
Principal and three Vice-Principals. A curriculum development officer, exists in both schools, the Primary School
Master of Curriculum Development in the Local School and the IB Coordinator supplemented by a Literacy
Coordinator in the International one. Both schools have Library Managers. Organisational differences can be
explained through the cross-curricular / subject-based dichotomy which exists between the two schools giving
another dimension of complexity to the Local Schools organisation, whereby on top of Year-Level coordinators,
which exist in both schools, Subject-based Coordinators exist too, creating a more vertical structure. As a result the
Local Schools organisational structure places less responsibility in the hands of the Classroom Teacher who is less
of a point of anchorage with the students than in the International School and shares more duties with other subject
teachers.
Both schools were audited during the period of study. The EDB carried out an External School Review of
the Local School and the International School was inspected by the International Baccalaureate Organisation and
the Council of International Schools. The two experiences proved intensive for both schools showing a high degree
of system-wide expectancies. The International School produced two several hundred page long reports for both
organisations and invited teams of inspectors to the school. The Local School had to provide three years of archives
44

and submitted itself to various school and lesson observations. Feedback sessions and reports were provided in both
instances. Opinions of diverse stakeholders were gathered: students, parents, teachers or boards. These exceptional
forms of review were also combined with the regular internal appraisal procedures carried out by both schools
throughout the year which include peer observations, lesson observations carried out by superiors and the
monitoring of student learning outcomes and achievement. These contribute to the end-of year appraisal of teachers
whose salaries and contract renewals are impacted in consequence.
3.3.4 Socio-Educational
The enrolments and scholastic structure of the two schools are similar with the exception of year levels
which have a years difference in relation to age-groups (Table 3.5). However nationality (Table 3.6) and genderrelated demographics present significant differences. Concerning gender many families who attend the Local
School hope to send their offspring to its most prestigious Nominated Secondary School which is Queen's College.
The Local School enjoys a strong reputation namely because it succeeds in placing a number of its students in this
school. Queen's College is an all-boys secondary school and as a result a predominantly male population is drawn
to the Local School. The International School has a balanced male and female population. Concerning nationality,
the International School compared to the Local Schools predominantly Chinese population, presents far more
diversity. It also has demographic particularities owing to its geographic positioning in Kowloon where for
historical reasons a large Indian community resides who make up the biggest proportion of students in the school.
The second largest population is its Chinese and Hong Kong contingent with British and Commonwealth students
also accounting for a consequent number of students. A significant number of Korean and Japanese students also
attend. Concerning staffing, the Local School is almost entirely Chinese while the International School is mainly
made up British and Commonwealth staff (Table 3.7).
Table 3.5: Enrolments by Year Level 2014-15 for International & Local School
Local School
Age Number of Classes Year Level Total Enrolments Boys Girls Average Class Size
11 to 12
10 to 11
9 to 10
8 to 9
7 to 8
6 to 7
TOTAL

5
5
5
5
5
5
30

Primary 6
Primary 5
Primary 4
Primary 3
Primary 2
Primary 1
TOTAL

123
125
131
128
133
135
775

93
92
107
128
133
135
688

International School
Age Number of Classes Year Level Total Enrolments Boys
10 to 11
9 to 10
8 to 9
7 to 8
6 to 7
5 to 6
TOTAL

5
5
5
5
5
5
30

Year 6
Year 5
Year 4
Year 3
Year 2
Year 1
TOTAL

148
149
148
150
150
150
895

30
33
24
34
44
47
212

24.6
25
26.2
25.6
26.6
27
25.8

Girls

Average Class Size

78
70
67
82
72
76
75*
75*
75*
75*
75*
75*
* Gender figures unaivalable

Source: HRGPSPM (2015); KJS (2014)


45

29.6
29.8
29.6
30
30
30

Table 3.6: Student Population by Nationality for International & Local School

International School
Nationality
India
China/Hong Kong
Britain
Korea
Canada
American
Australian
Japan
Other

Number
235
161
156
58
56
53
47
36
88

Local School
Percentage
26.1%
17.9%
17.3%
6.4%
6.2%
5.9%
5.2%
4.0%
9.8%

Nationality
Hong Kong
China (NAC)
Philippines
Eurasian
Pakistan
Japan

Number
Percentage
751
96.9%
10 (estimate)
12.9%
7
0.9%
3
0.4%
3
0.4%
1
0.1%

Source: Source: HRGPSPM (2015); KJS (2012)


Table 3.7: Staff Population by Nationality for International & Local School

International School
Nationality
British
Indian
Chinese
Australian
Canadian
American
New Zealander
Filipino
Taiwanese
Malaysian
Japanese
Other

Local School
Number
34
11
11
10
8
4
3
2
2
1
1
33

Percentage
28.3%
9.2%
9.2%
8.3%
6.7%
3.3%
2.5%
1.7%
1.7%
0.8%
0.8%
27.5%

Nationality
Hong Kong
Britain

Number
64
1

Percentage
98.5%
1.5%

Source: CHSC (2015); KJS (2014)


As with other ESF schools, places at the International School being researched are over-subscribed with
most of its population expecting to move on to the prestigious King George V secondary school. For the Local
School 2014-5 proved a good crop, with enrolment trends increasing over the last three years (Table 3.5), and this
can no doubt be explained by the move to a new fully-owned whole-day campus with the school still retaining its
brand and access at secondary levels. The hard-working ethos and quest for success is reflected in both of the
schools mottos Success for every Child for the International School and Diligence, Thriftiness, Happiness,
Courage for the Local School. The mottos are perhaps more reflective of the economic realities of the two schools
and their perspectives of progression which in turn give rise to their pedagogical affirmations.

46

The International School, in the IB spirit, follows a cross-curricular approach which is also reflective of an
Anglo-Centric tradition of giving class teachers full responsibility over all subjects. Subjects cohabit instead of
competing and time is given to time. Students are given the opportunity to become self-regulated learners and are
afforded a great deal of autonomy in their daily experiences resulting in the ownership of the learning experience.
Time is not a luxury that the students in the Local School students have and this is exacerbated with the half-day
nature of the school whereby efficiency has to be maximised cramming in as much exam-specific knowledge as
possible. Right from Year 1 a race is engaged upon and, although the lesser number of hours a student is taught per
day, may point towards a more relaxing experience, the daily schedule of the Local School student most likely
includes a morning at the tuition centre followed by a school-day which ends possibly at 6.30, followed by
homework until the late hours.
The subject-based division of labour gives the class-teacher a lesser degree of visibility, knowledge or
indeed authority in relation to a given class. Contributing to the overcrowded nature of the syllabus is the threelanguage policy of the Hong Kong Government. Local Students must accommodate three languages on a daily
basis as opposed to the sprinklings of Mandarin the International School students receive every week as an
introduction to a second language. The result in the Local School is that very often recess is skipped with students
remaining in their classrooms to eat their snack without being given the opportunity to stretch their legs in their
basketball court. Equally, school-wide bonding activities such as assembly rarely take place.
The time-pressures and examination-driven regime combined with a lack of resources give rise to an
expedient teaching style in the Local School with little room for sympathy and resembles a Leviathan which grinds
on no matter if everyone is on board or not. As explained the Local School has only one adult per classroom
meaning that individualised attention during lesson-time is complex for classroom management reasons. As a
result, and possibly less to do with supposed cultural characteristics, a teacher-centred presentation style of teaching
is used by default as this is the most effective method given the situation. The syllabus predominantly relies on
textbooks and progresses in a linear fashion chapter by chapter, unit by unit, term by term, year by year. Learners
who are struggling have to fend for themselves and often end up becoming disengaged as teaching contents have
long moved on from their zone of proximal development. Even though streaming is employed, thus labelling
students, teaching contents are not differentiated with everyone have to complete and be tested on the same
curriculum.
Pressure on teachers from management but also parents to complete the schedule is displaced upon the
students. Added this to the background of subject-based teaching, streaming and vertical management structures
often means students and teachers are alienated from one another. The predominantly male demographic combined
with the high academic pressures and few opportunities for release means that there is permanent tension giving
rise to discipline issues. Owing to these features and the ambient noise of Wan Chai, microphones or megaphones
are called upon for daily interactions with students and a Tannoy System is used to present messages of importance.
Ambient noise levels are at around 80-90 decibels but it is not rare to measure 100 decibels engendering possible
and actual damage to young students auditive faculties at these two respective levels (WHO, 2010). Discipline
issues dominate everyday classroom interactions and a line-up of usual suspects can be seen outside the staff-room
47

in each of the two daily recesses with one, two, three or more teachers severely disciplining individuals backed up
against a wall. Special Needs Students often fit into this schema.
The environment of the International School is in vivid contrast. Many factors combine to ensure that that it
is rare to hear adults raise their voices though discipline issues do exist, positive include; the residential
neighbourhood, space, 21st century and age-adapted equipments, realistically geared curriculum addressing
developmental needs, even mix of girls and boys, recognition of diversity, support for Special Educational Needs
students, well-paid and sufficient numbers in staff and a regular presence of parents. Yet it is the way that students
behave which is most noteworthy, genuinely buying into the social contract that is given to them. This can all be
felt in the aesthetic qualities of the school. More than just its decoration it is the way that classroom environments
are used as dynamic and motivational learning tools in which students can at once interact but also are celebrated in
their progress and achievements. The Local School is unfortunately both impacted by its resources but also by the
fact that it is a half-day school and gives less importance to the class teachers resulting in a lower degree of
ownership of the classroom environment reducing its emotional warmth.

48

CHAPTER 4: METHODOLOGY AND DATA COLLECTION


4.1 The Comparative Method
Comparative education is a field of study covering all the disciplines which serve to understand and
explain education (L Thnh Khi, 1986, cited in Bray, 2007a, p. 35) and can be used as a methodological tool to
study Subjective Educational Wellbeing. Bray (2007b, p. 349) delineates the utility of comparative education as
follows:
Commencing with a plurality of these abstract models and using its own theoretical and
methodological tools, comparative education produces its own second-degree data and reaches its
own conclusions. Such conclusions may be of many kinds, including laws or quasi-laws,
provisional theories, confirmations or refutations of previous theories, new hypotheses for future
research and so on.
Comparative education is not interested in any single educational situation, but in two or more at the same time
Olivera (1988, cited in Bray, 2007b, p. 347) and allows the observation and juxtaposition of data from different
educational contexts in order to seek differences and similarities that exist and advance potential explanations for
these. In the case of this research and the contexts being investigated, the use of the comparative method provides a
methodological framework to confirm or infirm some of the contradictory observations that have been made
regarding the variance of Subjective Educational Wellbeing. On the one hand research appears to show that
contextual variables (Huebner et al., 2014) and practices in the local school cultures seemed to have an impact on
how the childrens psychosocial well-being was built (Ahonen, 2010, p. 4) but on the other hand differences in
individuals seem to better explain different levels of Subjective Educational Wellbeing (Konu & Rimpel, 2002).
In order to manage several real objects simultaneously, each of these situations must have been rendered
manageable, that is, comparable, through a first level of abstraction (Olivera, 1988, cited in Bray, 2007b, p. 347).
Bray and Thomas (1995) multilevel analysis framework (Figure 4.1) is used to achieve this and allows
comparative studies to achieve multifaceted and holistic analyses of educational phenomena (Bray, Adamson &
Mason, 2007b, p. 8). Subjective Educational Wellbeing is an Aspect of Education and Society. The Geographic
Level is situated at the school level and is a two-location study (Bray, Adamson & Mason, 2007a, p. 364), the aim
being to provide contextually-rich analyses by looking at micro-environments. The comparison being made is
intranational and has many benefits (Bray, Adamson & Mason, 2007a, p. 368) such as holding some contextual
variables more firmly constant than would be possible in cross-national comparisons (Bray & Yamato, 2003, p.
63). At the same time, through the inclusion of a local school and an international school, the comparison is
enriched by examining how systems coexist[] within (and across) national boundaries (Bray & Jiang, 2007, p.
124) and could also be said to situate itself at the intersection between cross-national and intra-national
comparisons (Bray & Yamato, 2007, p. 1). The Nonlocational Demographic Group is age groups and primaryschool-aged children in particular. In order to best accommodate cognitive and emotional stages of development
49

only Key-Stage 2 primary school students were consulted, in other words children aged between nine and twelve.
While the non-locational focus is on age groups, the nature of the two systems being investigated means that ethnic
and cultural factors are also significant.
Figure 4.1: Bray and Thomas (1995) Multilevel Analysis Framework

Source: Bray and Thomas (1995), p. 475.


The comparative method as set out by Bereday (1964, p. 28) (Figure 4.2) provides a four-stage method for
carrying out the comparison of educational data and places a strong emphasis on contextual factors. The
dissertations research questions aim to mirror the comparative method in their articulation. The first descriptive
stage involves the collection of the SEWB data from the two groups through the administration of a questionnaire.
The second stage statistically interprets the data and examines the historical, political, economic and social contexts
of the groups involved, combining both quantitative and qualitative methods such as documentary analysis and
observations with the researcher being a participant in the two school settings. The third step juxtaposes the
findings in order to determine the similarities and differences that exist between the contextualised data of the two
groups and establish the criteria for comparability necessary to advancing a hypothesis. The final stage compares
those findings in order to discover and explain the relationships that exist between the levels of SEWB and the
appraisals made of explanatory factors by participants in the two groups.

50

Figure 4.2: The Comparative Method (Bereday, 1964)

Source: Bereday (1964), p. 28.


4.2 Survey-Based Quantitative Methodology
The main methodological paradigm of the research is quantitative. Primary pedagogical data is being
produced and analysed through survey research, a term applied to non-experimental research based on
questionnaires (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p. 197). The statistical method used for analysing the data is
explanatory and involves testing hypotheses and theories that explain how and why a phenomenon operates as it
does (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p. 349) in order to establish criteria for comparability. The t-test for
independent samples is used to determine whether the difference between the means of two groups is statistically
significant (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p. 486). The t-test for independent samples is used with a quantitative
dependent variable and a dichotomous (i.e. composed of two levels or groups) independent variable (Johnson &
Christensen, 2010, p. 486). SEWB scores and explanatory factor results are first considered separately as dependent
variables and the dichotomous independent variable is the two groups being compared. The t-test is a form of
hypothesis testing which is a branch of inferential statistics that is concerned about how well the sample data
support a null hypothesis and when or if the null hypotheses can be rejected (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p. 472)
and use[s] the laws of probability to make inferences and draw statistical conclusions (Johnson & Christensen,

51

2010, p. 463). The null hypothesis and an alternative hypothesis are now stated for the two types of dependent
variables:
1) Subjective Educational Wellbeing
H0 = null hypothesis = The SEWB means in Group A and Group B are the same.
H0 : SEWB group a = SEWB group b
H1 = alternative hypothesis = The SEWB means in Group A and Group B are different.
H1 : SEWB group a

SEWB group b

2) Explanatory Factors
H0 = null hypothesis = Explanatory Factor N mean in Group A and Group B are the same.
H0 : Factor N a = Factor N b
H1 = alternative hypothesis = Explanatory Factor N mean in Group A and Group B is different.
H1 : Factor N a

Factor N b

[ N refers to the explanatory factor or dimension]


Depending on whether the null hypotheses are confirmed or rejected, similarities and differences in both
SEWB and explanatory are categorised in order to proceed to the second part of the statistical analysis procedure
which involves correlational analysis. Correlational analysis is a form of non-experimental research in which the
primary independent variable of interest is a quantitative variable (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p. 41). The aim is
to test if there are any relationships between significant self-reported explanatory factors and the SEWB scores. The
correlation coefficients that are calculated are an index that measures the strength and the direction of the
relationship between two variables (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p. 41). The linear correlation coefficient,
sometimes known as the Pearson product moment correlation coefficient is used.
4.3 Data Collection
4.3.1

Instrument Design and Steps for Ensuring Validity and Reliability


The questionnaire (Appendix 1) was designed according to the theoretical framework outlined in the

literature review. The instrument is divided into three categories; demographic information, SEWB-related
variables and explanatory factors. Demographic components provide further criteria for comparison within the
52

groups being investigated and included, age, gender, nationality, culture and language spoken. Comparative
analysis of the survey results is also possible through the coding of participant entries according to the sample
group, year-level and class. SEWB items measure educational satisfaction, educational positive & negative affect
and finally educational flourishing. Explanatory variables examine child perceptions of home and school factors
relating to the educational conditions, relationships and learning experiences.
Items on the questionnaire relating to SEWB and explanatory factors use a Likert Scale of five so as to
allow subsequent correlational analysis. The items include a range of questions measuring the extent to which
children experience positive or negative feelings or agree or not with various statements. Evaluations regarding
negative feelings or statements are reverse scored. The SEWB component of the questionnaire produces a score
(Table 4.1) which is a summed average of all the responses to the SEWB items and reflects the degree of positive
or negative SEWB a child is experiencing. Explanatory factors are also summed so as to provide an average score
per dimension.
Table 4.1: SEWB Scoring Table

Average Score
4.5-5
3.5-4.4
2.5-3.4
1.5-2.4
1-1.4

Descriptor
High SEWB
Above Average SEWB
Neutral Level of SEWB
Below Average SEWB
Low SEWB

The questions that have been drafted for measuring SEWB and investigating explanatory factors have been
as far as possible taken from a mix of existing protocols used by practioners in the field. It is also the case that some
questions have been adapted, reworded or specifically written so as to be education-specific and age-appropriate,
contextually reflective and inclusive of bespoke aspects of the family and the school setting. The main sources
drawn upon for the creation of the questionnaire include the protocols from UNICEF RC7 (2007) and RC11 (2013),
PISA 2012 (OECD, 2013), HBSC 2009-10 (Currie et al., 2010), the School Well-being Model (Konu, Alanen,
Lintonen and Rimpel, 2002), Arcti-Children (Ahonen, 2010), SPANE (Diener, 2009), Satisfaction with Life Scale
(Diener, 2009), Scales of Psychological Well-Being (Ryff, 1989), and Cantrils Ladder (Ben-Arieh, Casas, Frnes,
& Korbin, 2014).
By using items and measures inspired from existing protocols the validity and reliability were increased. To
improve the instruments cultural responsiveness to the Hong Kong context the Eudaimonic dimension of
wellbeing was included. In order to facilitate comprehension for the students in the Local School group the
questionnaire was translated into Cantonese Chinese spoken in Hong Kong with linguistic accuracy being checked
by translating it back into English. Concerning the scepticism regarding the ability of younger children to respond
to questions about their global subjective well-being (OECD, 2009, p. 24) and the argument that children differ
53

from adults in cognitive ability, training in research and ability to delay gratification which in turn leads to lower
response rates and less reliability of studies who directly involve children (Ben-Arieh, 2005, p. 579) steps were
taken to make the survey as child-centric as possible and it was also piloted with four local school students three
international school students using the think-aloud technique which has participants verbalize their thoughts and
perceptions while engaged in an activity (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p. 177). During this phase few problems
were noted on comprehension both at a literal level but also a conceptual one. One interesting comment was made
though by a local school student who mentioned that children might not want to answer questions on their parents
pointing towards the tendency to provide answers that are socially desirable (Johnson & Christensen, 2010, p.
176) and may have had an impact on the questionnaires reliability. Overall, though no serious problems were noted
in either the Chinese or English versions of the questionnaire confirming the capability of children to adequately
and reliably respond to questions regarding their own lives confirming Ben-Ariehs (2005, p. 579) observation that
these are:
methodological challenges a researcher must face whenever conducting a study. Indeed different
research populations pose different challenges, those can be cultural, legal, and physical or age related.
The question is can the challenge be met? Can we do research that involve children in a way that will
generate reliable findings based on a good response rate? The answer is yes and not on a speculative
basis. Ample research exist showing clearly that studies directly involving children have yielded just as
good response rates and reliability (and sometime even better) as studied using adults to report on
childrens well-being.
4.3.2 Data Collection Procedures and Ethical Considerations
The survey was delivered using two mediums, electronic and paper-based. The Local School group took
the questionnaire online using Google Forms. The children were provided with a unique login that took into
account their group and class membership but maintained anonymity. The data was automatically uploaded to a
secure online server and database which stocked the entries. The children carried out the survey in their schools
computer room which ensured the safety of students but also avoided parental influence in survey responses. A
total of 15 sessions were conducted over a period of two weeks. The survey was facilitated by the student writing
this dissertation who is also a teacher in the Local School. Teacher influence was avoided by the fact that he is not
involved in direct educational contact with the students being surveyed and could not read their responses that were
in Chinese. Students were given an oral introduction which provided an overview of what the survey was about and
the constructs being measured. A definition of terms was provided. Children were reminded of the anonymity and
confidentiality of the results and notified of their right to pull out of the procedure should they choose to do so.
Throughout the process of the questionnaire administration, the facilitator provided support for the students having
troubles answering questions.
The International Schools data collection procedure met with some unforeseen difficulties, due to the
inability of the facilitator to gain access to computers in school time. The decision was taken to opt for the pen and
54

paper approach instead and send questionnaires home to the students who subsequently returned them to school in a
drop-box. This meant that the facilitator could not provide support if needed but more importantly could not control
parental involvement or possible teacher involvement in the response process. However, knowing the school setting
well as a parent, it would be surprising if interference occurred. Furthermore, the research and questionnaire
presented minimal risks to participants, sought in no way to harm them and its results were confidential and
anonymous as the students did not mark their names on the surveys. Everything was done when carrying out this
research to respect the spirit of the Belmont Report (Office of Research, 2013, p. 1) and:
emphasize a profound respect for the voluntary nature of research participation, the idea of true
informed consent, and the personal ethical responsibilities of the investigator to ensure human
welfare
To that end, and as the research involved children below secondary level, active consent was sought from the
parents or guardians of the children involved and assent from the participating children. The principals of the two
groups of children were approached and their active consent was sought too. The relevant letters (Appendix 2) were
sent out, after approval from the University of Hong Kongs board of ethical clearance.
4.3.3 Research Sample
The research undertaken was non-experimental but sought to generalise the results as far as possible to the
two populations under investigation. All Key-Stage 2 students in the two groups were invited to take part in the
survey. Neither random selection nor random assignment was carried out but owing to the voluntary nature of the
survey, those who chose to take part did so more or less randomly. The results are not generalisable to the wider
Hong Kong population but can provide insights into issues that arise in the Hong Kong educational context.
A total sample of 369 respondents (Table 4.2) was constituted. The International School sample was
significantly smaller than Local Schools which can be explained by the fact that only two year levels were
surveyed (Table 4.3) owing to the different scholastic organisations of the two schools and that only Key Stage 2
students were being asked to respond, but also a lower participation rate. The Local School sample was strongly
representative of its population with M = 95% CI (M-.03%, M+.03%), unfortunately the smaller International
School sample had a higher margin of error M = 95% CI (M-.08%, M+.08%) (Table 4.4). 86 % of the respondents
were aged between 9 and 11 years and the distribution of ages was fairly similar between the two groups apart from
those aged 12 (Table 4.5). The sample proportions of females versus males were statistically similar to the
populations (Table 4.6) and reflected the predominantly male population of the Local School and a slight majority
of girls at the International School. The majority of students in both samples came from two-parent families (Table
4.7). Most participants in the International School had siblings (Table 4.7) while many in the Local School were
single children.
Concerning nationality (Table 4.8), it is helpful to view these figures in conjunction with language spoken
(Table 4.9). In the Local School, the two nationalities that account for 96.6% of respondents are Hong Kong and
55

China. The aim in posing the question was to distinguish between Newly-Arrived Children from the Mainland
versus local children. In fact there was a fairly even split between those considering themselves from Hong Kong or
China; an unforeseen finding. The question was maybe poorly worded, but can also be explained by the fact that
national identity is a somewhat fluid concept in Hong Kong with some considering themselves more Chinese and
others more Hong Kongese. In fact Hong Kong citizens are all Chinese by law. When looking at language though,
we possibly get a clearer picture of where the students are from, with 90.6% speaking Cantonese Chinese, the local
vernacular, and only 5.6 % speaking the Mandarin Chinese as spoken the other side of the border. The International
School sample was a little different from the 2012 data outlined below in the research setting section but remains
similar. Hong Kong citizens accounted for the majority of respondents at 39.2 % contributing to the comparability
of the two samples from a cultural perspective. Indians represented the second biggest group at 26.5 %. Finally
Chinese and Koreans accounted for both 9.8 % and 5% meaning that 55 % of respondents from the sample were
from Confucian Heritage Cultures.
Table 4.2: Sample by School
Frequency

Percent

Local School

267

72

International School

102

28

Total

369

100

Table 4.3: Sample by Year Level & School

Local School

International School

Total

Frequency

Percent

Frequency

Percent

Frequency

Percent

Year Level 4

94

35.2%

61

59.8%

155

42.0

Year Level 5

84

41

33.9

89

89

24.1

Total

267

40.2%
0.0%
100

125

Year Level 6

31.5%
33.3%
100

369

100.0

0
102

Table 4.4: Sample to Population Confidence Levels


Local School
International School
Total

267
102
369

379
300
679

70%
34%
54%

56

0.95
0.95
0.95

3.3%
7.9%
3.5%

Table 4.5: Sample by Age & School

Local School
Frequency
7 years old

8 years old

9 years old

52

10 years old

85

11 years old

80

12 years old

44

13 years old

Total

Percent

International School
Frequency

1%
0%
19%
32%
30%
16%
1%

267

Percent

0
0
30
48
24
0
0

Total
Frequency

0%
0%
29%
47%
24%
0%
0%

102

2
0
82
133
104
44
4

Percent

1%
0%
22%
36%
28%
12%
1%

369

Table 4.6: Sample by Gender & School

Girl
Boy
Total

Sample
58
209
267

Percent
21.7%
78.3%
100%

Local School
Population
87
292
379

Percent
23.0%
77.0%
100%

Variance Sample
-0.054
57
0.016
45
102

International School
Percent Population Percent
55.9%
158
53.2%
44.1%
139
46.8%
100%
297
100%

Variance
0.051
-0.057

Table 4.7: Sample by Family Status & School

Local School

Percent

International
School

Percent

Total

Percent

Two Parent Family


Single Parent Family
No Parent
Total

239
24
4
267

89.5%
9.0%
1.5%
100%

101
1
0
102

99.0%
1.0%
0.0%
100%

340
25
4
369

92.1%
6.8%
1.1%
100%

one brother or sister or more


single child
Total

165
102
267

61.8%
38.2%
100%

86
16
102

84.3%
15.7%
100%

251
118
369

68.0%
32.0%
100%

One Grandparent or more


No Grandparent
Total

43
224
267

16.1%
83.9%
100%

12
90
102

11.8%
88.2%
100%

55
314
369

14.9%
85.1%
100%

Domestic Helper
No Domestic Helper
Total

120
147
267

44.9%
55.1%
100%

63
39
102

61.8%
38.2%
100%

183
186
369

49.6%
50.4%
100%

57

Table 4.8: Sample by Nationality & School


Local School
Nationality 1

International School

Percent Nationality 2

Nationality 1

Total
Nationality 1

Percent

Australia

0.0%

Percent Nationality 2
1.0%

0.3%

Canada

1.1%

2.9%

1.6%

China

110

41.2%

4.9%

115

31.2%

Great Britain

0.7%

4.9%

1.9%

Hong Kong

148

55.4%

65

40

39.2%

188

50.9%

India

0.0%

27

26.5%

27

7.3%

Japan

0.4%

0.0%

0.3%

Korea

0.0%

10

9.8%

10

2.7%

Pakistan

0.4%

1.0%

0.5%

Philippines

0.0%

1.0%

0.3%

Other Asian

0.4%

1.0%

0.5%

Other

0.4%

0.0%

0.3%

Bangladesh

0.0%

1.0%

0.3%

Malaysia

0.0%

1.0%

0.3%

Singapore

0.0%

2.0%

0.5%

Taiwan

0.0%

0.0%

USA

0.0%

2.9%

NA

0.0%

Total

267

100%

102

0.0%
3

0.8%

1.0%

0.3%

100%

369

100%

Table 4.9: Sample by Language Spoken & School


Local
School

Percent

International
Percent Total Percent
School

English

2.6%

69

67.6%

76

20.6%

Chinese (Mandarin)

15

5.6%

4.9%

20

5.4%

Chinese (Cantonese)

242

90.6%

6.9%

249

67.5%

Korean

0.0%

8.8%

2.4%

Japanese

0.7%

0.0%

0.5%

Hindi

0.0%

8.8%

2.4%

Other

0.4%

2.9%

1.1%

Total

267

100%

102

100%

369

100%

58

CHAPTER 5: DATA ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION


5.1 Subjective Educational Wellbeing Data
Results and their analysis are presented in four sections which include the distribution and comparison of
SEWB scores and their dimensions, the distribution and comparison of explanatory factors, the analysis of
correlations between SEWB and explanatory factors and finally the discussion of the results. The first section
presents the overall SEWB scores in both groups along with their descriptive statistics and then compares the results
from the two groups using an independent samples t-test (Table 5.1 & 5.2). The three dimensions of SEWB are also
presented individually so as to determine if any variations exist at this level.
Table
5.1: Results of t-tests and Descriptive Statistics SEWB & Dimensions by Group
Table 4.1
Results of t-tests and Descriptive Statistics SEWB & Dimensions by Group

Variable
SEWB
EDU SATIS
EDU AFFECT
EDU FLOUR
* p < .05.

M
3.73
3.39
3.74
4.05

Local School
SD
N
.59
267
.70
267
.73
267
.70
267

International School
M
SD
N
4.00
.44
102
3.92
.51
102
3.92
.56
102
4.18
.53
102

95% CI
-.39, -.17
-.65, -.39
-.33, -.04
-.26, .01

F sig*
.009
.037
.014
.045

T
-4.97
-7.95
-2.57
-1.90

df
244.73
250.86
236.02
236.76

p (2-tail) *
.000
.000
.011
.058

Cohens d
-.51
-.81
-.27
-.20

Table
5.2: Skewness & Kurtosis for SEWB & Explanatory Factors by Group
Table 4.2
Skewness & Kurtosis for SEWB & Explanatory Factors by Group

Variable
SEWB
EDU SATIS
EDU AFFECT
EDU FLOUR

Local School
Skewness
-1.03
-.67
-.81
-1.04

International School
Skewness
Kurtosis
-3.71
-.29
.13
-.35
-.76
.80
-.26
-.80

Kurtosis
2.77
1.95
1.26
2.08

5.1.1 Subjective Educational Wellbeing Overall Scores


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with an SEWB score of M = 3.73 (SD = .59), 95% CI (3.60,
3.84) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .16). By comparison, the International School (N = 102) was
associated with a numerically higher SEWB score M = 4.00 (SD = .44), 95% CI (3.69, 4.32) and had a low
Coefficient of Variance (CV = .11). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International School were associated
with statistically significantly different mean SEWB scores, an independent samples t-test was performed. The
assumption of homogeneity of variances did not satisfy Levenes F test, F (367) = 6.95, p = .009, but the Local and
International School distributions were sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out a t-test (Local School
skewness - 1.03 < |2.0|; International School skewness - .37 < |2.0| and Local School Kurtosis 2.769 < |9.0|;
International School Kurtosis .287 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler, Danay, Beyer, & Buhner, 2010). Equal variances not
assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a statistically significant effect t(244.73) = -4.97, p =
.000. Thus the International School had a statistically significantly higher SEWB score than the Local School.
59

Cohens D was estimated at d = -.49, which is a moderate effect based on Cohens (1977) guidelines. A graphical
representation of the means and the 95% confidence interval is displayed in Figure 5.1.
Figure 5.1: Difference of Mean Subjective Educational Wellbeing by Group

5.1.2 Educational Satisfaction Dimension


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with an Educational Satisfaction score of M = 3.39 (SD = .69),
95% CI (3.28, 3.51) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .21). By comparison, the International School (N
= 102) was associated with a numerically higher Educational Satisfaction score M = 3.92 (SD = .51), 95% CI (3.61,
4.22) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .13). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International
School were associated with statistically significantly different mean Educational Satisfaction scores, an
independent samples t-test was performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances did not satisfy Levenes F
test, F (367) = 4.39, p = .03, but the Local and International School distributions were sufficiently normal for the
purposes of carrying out a t-test (Local School skewness -.666 < |2.0|; International School skewness .130 < |2.0|
and Local School Kurtosis 1.946

< |9.0|; International School Kurtosis -.351 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler,

Danay, Beyer, & Buhner, 2010). Equal variances not assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a
statistically significant effect t(250.86) = -7.498, p = .000. Thus the Local School had a statistically significantly
lower Educational Satisfaction score than the International School. Cohens D was estimated at d = -.81, which is a
large effect based on Cohens (1977) guidelines. A graphical representation of the means and the 95% confidence
interval is displayed in Figure 5.2.
Figure 5.2: Difference of Mean Educational Satisfaction by Group

60

5.1.3 Educational Affect Dimension


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with an Educational Affect score of M = 3.73 (SD = .73), 95%
CI (3.61, 3.86) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .20). By comparison, the International School (N =
102) was associated with a numerically higher Educational Affect score M = 3.92 (SD = .56), 95% CI (3.61, 4.23)
and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .14). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International School
were associated with statistically significantly different mean Educational Affect scores, an independent samples ttest was performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances did not satisfy Levenes F test, F (367) = 6.10, p
= .01, but the Local and International School distributions were sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out
a t-test (Local School skewness -.806 < |2.0|; International School skewness -.763 < |2.0| and Local School Kurtosis
1.262

< |9.0|; International School Kurtosis .804 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler, Danay, Beyer, & Buhner, 2010).

Equal variances not assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a statistically significant effect
t(236.01) = -2.57, p = .011. Thus the Local School had a statistically significantly lower Educational Affect score
than the International School. Cohens D was estimated at -.27, which is a small negative effect based on Cohens
(1977) guidelines. A graphical representation of the means and the 95% confidence interval is displayed in Figure
5.3.
Figure 5.3: Difference of Mean Educational Affect by Group

5.1.4 Educational Flourishing Dimension


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with an Educational Flourishing score of M = 4.05 (SD = .69),
95% CI (3.91, 4.18) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .17). By comparison, the International School (N
= 102) was associated with a numerically higher SEWB score M = 4.18 (SD = .53), 95% CI (3.85, 4.51) and had a
low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .13). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International Schools were
associated with statistically significantly different mean Educational Flourishing scores, an independent samples ttest was performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances did not satisfy Levenes F test, F (367) = 4.06, p
= .04., but the Local and International School distributions were sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out
a t-test (Local School skewness -1.043 < |2.0|; International School skewness -.262 < |2.0| and Local School
61

Kurtosis 2.083 < |9.0|; International School Kurtosis -.800 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler, Danay, Beyer, & Buhner,
2010). Equal variances not assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a statistically insignificant
effect t(236.76) = -1.90, p = .06. Thus the null hypothesis is maintained with both Local and International School
having statistically similar Educational Flourishing scores. Cohens D was estimated at d = -.19, which is
unsurprisingly a very small effect. A graphical representation of the means and the 95% confidence interval is
displayed in Figure 5.4.
Figure 5.4: Difference of Mean Educational Flourishing by Group

5.2 Explanatory Factors Data


The averaged responses to the five explanatory factor dimensions are now presented with the results from
the two groups compared using an independent samples t-test (Table 5.3 & 5.4). The five dimensions are School
Conditions,
Home Conditions, School Relationships, Home Relationships and Learning Experiences.
Table 4.3
Results of t-tests and Descriptive Statistics Explanatory Factors by Group

Table 5.3: Results of t-tests and Descriptive Statistics of Explanatory Factors by Group
Variable
SCHOOL COND
HOME COND
SCHOOL REL
HOME REL
LEARN EXP
* p < .05.

M
3.62
3.54
3.75
3.70
4.01

Local School
SD
N
.65
267
.57
267
.62
267
.66
267
.53
267

International School
M
SD
N
4.07
.47
102
3.83
.54
102
4.06
.50
102
3.91
.53
102
4.05
.42
102

95% CI
-.57, -.33
-.41, -.16
-.44, -.17
-.35, -.07
-.15, .08

F sig*
.000
.337
.067
.063
.063

T
-7.42
-4.39
-4.48
-2.90
-.68

df
253.24
367.00
367.00
367.00
367.00

Table
5.4: Skewness & Kurtosis for SEWB & Explanatory Factors by Group
Table 4.4
Skewness & Kurtosis for SEWB & Explanatory Factors by Group

Variable
SCHOOL COND
HOME COND
SCHOOL REL
HOME REL
LEARN EXP

Local School
Skewness
-.33
-.36
-1.09
-.75
-.75

International School
Skewness
Kurtosis
-.51
.30
-.47
1.55
-.62
.29
-.34
.45
-.17
-.27

Kurtosis
.22
.13
1.74
.56
1.06

62

p (2-tail) *
.000
.000
.000
.004
.498

Cohens d
-.75
-.52
-.52
-.34
-.08

5.2.1 School Conditions


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with a School Conditions score of M = 3.62 (SD = .65), 95% CI
(3.50, 3.74) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .18). By comparison, the International School (N = 102)
was associated with a numerically higher School Conditions score M = 4.07 (SD = .47), 95% CI (3.75, 4.39) and
had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .12). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International School were
associated with statistically significantly different mean School Conditions scores, an independent samples t-test
was performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances was tested but did not satisfy Levenes F test, F (367)
= 13.14, p = .00, but the Local and International School distributions were sufficiently normal for the purposes of
carrying out a t-test (Local School skewness -.334 < |2.0|; International School skewness -.512 < |2.0| and Local
School Kurtosis .221

< |9.0|; International School Kurtosis .302 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler, Danay, Beyer, &

Buhner, 2010). Equal variances not assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a statistically
significant effect t(253.24) = -7.42, p = .000. Thus the Local School had a statistically significantly lower School
Conditions score than the International School. Cohens D was estimated at d = -.75, which is a moderate to high
negative effect based on Cohens (1977) guidelines. A graphical representation of the means and the 95%
confidence interval is displayed in Figure 5.5.
Figure 5.5: Difference of Mean School Conditions by Group

5.2.2 Home Conditions


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with a Home Conditions score of M = 3.54 (SD = .57), 95% CI
(3.42, 3.66) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .16). By comparison, the International School (N = 102)
was associated with a numerically higher Home Conditions score M = 3.83 (SD = .54), 95% CI (3.53, 4.13) and had
a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .14). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International School were
associated with statistically significantly different mean Home Conditions scores, an independent samples t-test was
performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances was tested and satisfied Levenes F test, F (367) = .93, p =
.34 supporting the null hypothesis of the equality of variances. Local and International School distributions also
showed normality for the purposes of carrying out a t-test according to their Skewness and Kurtosis (Local School
63

skewness -.359 < |2.0|; International School skewness -.474 < |2.0| and Local School Kurtosis .130 < |9.0|;
International School Kurtosis 1.554 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler, Danay, Beyer, & Buhner, 2010). Equal variances
assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a statistically significant effect t(367) = -4.39, p =
.000. Thus the Local School had a statistically significantly lower Home Conditions score than the International
School. Cohens D was estimated at d = -.51, which is a moderate effect based on Cohens (1977) guidelines. A
graphical representation of the means and the 95% confidence interval is displayed in Figure 5.6.
Figure 5.6: Difference of Mean Home Conditions by Group

5.2.3 School Relationships


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with the School Relationships score of M = 3.75 (SD = .62),
95% CI (3.63, 4.87) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .17). By comparison, the International School (N
= 102) was associated with a numerically higher the School Relationships score of M = 4.06 (SD = .50), 95% CI
(3.74, 4.38) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .12). To test the hypothesis that the Local and
International School were associated with statistically significantly different mean School Relationships scores, an
independent samples t-test was performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances was tested and satisfied
Levenes F test, F (367) = 3.37, p = .067 with the Local and International School distributions also being
sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out a t-test (Local School skewness -1.093 < |2.0|; International
School skewness -.622 < |2.0| and Local School Kurtosis 1.744 < |9.0|; International School Kurtosis .290 < |9.0|
(Schmider, Ziegler, Danay, Beyer, & Buhner, 2010). Equal variances assumed, the independent samples t-test was
associated with a statistically significant effect t(367) = -4.48, p = .000. Thus the International School had a
statistically significantly higher School Relationships score than the Local School. Cohens D was estimated at d = .52, which is a moderate effect based on Cohens (1977) guidelines. A graphical representation of the means and
the 95% confidence interval is displayed in Figure 5.7.
Figure 5.7: Difference of Mean School Relationships by Group

64

5.2.4 Home Relationships


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with a Home Relationships score of M = 3.70 (SD = .66), 95%
CI (3.58, 3.82) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .18). By comparison, the International School (N =
102) was associated with a numerically higher Home Relationships score, M = 3.91 (SD = .53), 95% CI (3.60, 4.22)
and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .14). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International School
were associated with statistically significantly different mean Home Relationships scores, an independent samples
t-test was performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances was tested and satisfied Levenes F test, F (367)
= 3.37, p = .063 with the Local and International School distributions also being sufficiently normal for the
purposes of carrying out a t-test (Local School skewness -.752 < |2.0|; International School skewness -.340 < |2.0|
and Local School Kurtosis .562 < |9.0|; International School Kurtosis -.448 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler, Danay,
Beyer, & Buhner, 2010). Equal variances assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a
statistically significant effect t(367) = -2.90, p = .004. Thus the International School had a statistically significantly
higher Home Relationships score than the Local School. Cohens D was estimated at d = -.34, which is a moderate
to small effect based on Cohens (1977) guidelines. A graphical representation of the means and the 95%
confidence interval is displayed in Figure 5.8.
Figure 5.8: Difference of Mean Home Relationships by Group

5.2.5 Learning Experiences


The Local School (N = 267) was associated with a Learning Experiences score of M = 4.01 (SD = .53),
95% CI (3.88, 4.14) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .13). By comparison, the International School (N
= 102) was associated with a numerically higher Learning Experiences score M = 4.05 (SD = .42), 95% CI (3.73,
4.37) and had a low Coefficient of Variance (CV = .10). To test the hypothesis that the Local and International
School were associated with statistically significantly different mean Learning Experiences scores, an independent
samples t-test was performed. The assumption of homogeneity of variances was tested and satisfied Levenes F
test, F (367) = 3.49, p = .063 with the Local and International School distributions also being sufficiently normal
for the purposes of carrying out a t-test (Local School skewness -.749 < |2.0|; International School skewness -.174<
65

|2.0| and Local School Kurtosis 1.055 < |9.0|; International School Kurtosis -.270 < |9.0| (Schmider, Ziegler, Danay,
Beyer, & Buhner, 2010). Equal variances assumed, the independent samples t-test was associated with a
statistically insignificant effect t(367) = -.68, p = .498. Thus the null hypothesis was confirmed with the Local and
International Schools displaying statistically similar Learning Experiences scores. Cohens D was estimated at d = .08, which is a near to zero effect based on Cohens (1977) guidelines. A graphical representation of the means and
the 95% confidence interval is displayed in Figure 5.9.
Figure 5.9: Difference of Mean Learning Experiences by Group

5.3 Correlational Analysis of SEWB with Explanatory Factors


The distributions of the survey results from the Local and International Schools were grouped together for
the purposes of correlational analysis. Distributions for SEWB and the five explanatory factor dimensions were
assumed to be normal following Schmider et als (2010) guidelines on Skewness and Kurtosis (Table 5.5).
Pearsons r data analysis was subsequently carried out on five different pairings of SEWB with School Conditions,
Home Conditions, School Relationships, Home Relationships and Learning Experiences (Table 5.5).

Table 4.5
Table
5.5:ofResults
of Pearsons
test & Descriptive
Statistics
Results
Pearsons
r test andr Descriptive
Statistics
for for SEWB Correlated with Explanatory
Factors
SEWB Correlated with Explanatory Factors
Variable
M
SD
Skewness
Kurtosis
r (SEWB)
p
-1.02
2.85
SEWB
3.80
.56
---.50
SCHOOL COND
3.75
.64
.29
.74
.000
HOME COND
3.62
.58
-.37
.37
.54
.000
SCHOOL REL
3.83
.61
-1.06
1.81
.68
.000
HOME REL
3.75
.63
-.74
.66
.58
.000
LEARN EXP
4.02
.50
-.69
1.06
.62
.000
66

5.3.1 SEWB & School Conditions Correlation Test


A total population including the Local and International School (N = 369) was surveyed about their level of
SEWB (M = 3.80, SD = .56) and their perceptions of School Conditions (M = 3.75, SD = .64). The data failed the
Shapiro-Wilk test for normality but according Schmider et als (2010) guidelines, the distributions were deemed to
be sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out Pearsons r. A Pearsons r data analysis revealed a strong
positive correlation, r = .74 which was statistically significant p = .000 and explained 55% of occurrences (Figure
5.10). Students who had higher levels of SEWB reported more positively on their perceptions of School Conditions
and students with lower levels of SEWB reported negative perceptions of School Conditions.
Figure 5.10: Subjective Educational Wellbeing & School Conditions Correlation

4.3.2 SEWB & Home Conditions Correlation Test


A total population including the Local and International School (N = 369) was surveyed about their level of
SEWB (M = 3.80, SD = .56) and their perceptions of Home Conditions (M = 3.62, SD = .58). The data failed the
Shapiro-Wilk test for normality but according Schmider et als (2010) guidelines, the distributions were deemed to
be sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out Pearsons r. A Pearsons r data analysis revealed a moderate
positive correlation, r = .54 which was statistically significant p = .000 and explained 29% of occurrences (Figure
5.11). Students who had higher levels of SEWB reported more positively on their perceptions of Home Conditions
and students with lower levels of SEWB reported more negative perceptions of Home Conditions.

67

Figure 5.11: Subjective Educational Wellbeing & Home Conditions Correlation

5.3.3 SEWB & School Relationships Correlation Test


A total population including the Local and International School (N = 369) was surveyed about their level of
SEWB (M = 3.80, SD = .56) and their perceptions of School Relationships (M = 3.83, SD = .61). The data failed the
Shapiro-Wilk test for normality but according Schmider et als (2010) guidelines, the distributions were deemed to
be sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out Pearsons r. A Pearsons r data analysis revealed a moderate
to strong positive correlation, r = .68 which was statistically significant p = .000 and explained 46 % of occurrences
(Figure 5.12). Students who had higher levels of SEWB reported more positively on their perceptions of School
Relationships and students with lower levels of SEWB reported negative perceptions of School Relationships.
Figure 5.12: Subjective Educational Wellbeing & School Relationships Correlation

68

5.3.4 SEWB & Home Relationships Correlation Test


A total population including the Local and International School (N = 369) was surveyed about their level of
SEWB (M = 3.80, SD = .56) and their perceptions of Home Relationships (M = 3.75, SD = .63). The data failed the
Shapiro-Wilk test for normality but according Schmider et als (2010) guidelines, the distributions were deemed to
be sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out Pearsons r. A Pearsons r data analysis revealed a moderate
positive correlation, r = .58 which was statistically significant p = .000 and explained 33% of occurrences (Figure
5.13). Students who had higher levels of SEWB reported more positively on their perceptions of Home
Relationships and students with lower levels of SEWB reported more negative perceptions of Home Relationships.
Figure 5.13: Subjective Educational Wellbeing & Home Relationships Correlation

5.3.5 SEWB & Learning Experiences Correlation Test


A total population including the Local and International School (N = 369) was surveyed about their level of
SEWB (M = 3.80, SD = .56) and their perceptions of Learning Experiences (M = 4.02, SD = .50). The data failed
the Shapiro-Wilk test for normality but according Schmider et als (2010) guidelines, the distributions were deemed
to be sufficiently normal for the purposes of carrying out Pearsons r. A Pearsons r data analysis revealed a
moderate to strong positive correlation, r = .62 which was statistically significant p = .000 and explained 39% of
occurrences (Figure 5.14). Students who had higher levels of SEWB reported more positively on their perceptions
of Learning Experiences and students with lower levels of SEWB reported more negative perceptions of Learning
Experiences.

69

Figure 5.14: Subjective Educational Wellbeing & Learning Experiences Correlation

5.4 Discussion
The findings from this survey are valuable but have to be interpreted and compared with caution owing to
the margin of error of International School data which may result in statistically probable overlaps on distributions
that might have otherwise been sampled from the population. This having been said, all the distributions
investigated had fairly low Coefficients of Variation, with all being below one. The low levels of variability and
spread point towards a homogenous set of responses within each group increasing their reliability and
representativeness.
Of note is that in every dimension measured, whether relating to the dependent variable or the explanatory
factors, the International School scored higher than the Local School when appraising their perceptions of different
aspects of their education in positive manner. The probability of such an occurrence arising is unlikely to be due to
chance. Moreover, in only two of the nine dimensions, Educational Flourishing and Learning Experiences, did the
differences prove non-significant. Two large d effects were found on the differences of means for Educational
Satisfaction and School Conditions. Three moderate d effects were also discovered for the overall construct of
Subjective Educational Wellbeing, Home Conditions and School Relationships. Lastly, three small effects were
reported for Educational Affect, Educational Flourishing and Home Relationships with only one dimension
displaying near-zero effect; Learning Experiences.

70

5.4.1 Subjective Educational Well Being and its Dimensions


As can be seen from the mean scores of both groups, the levels of SEWB are above the middle-point on the
SEWB scale though the International Schools score is less equivocal than its Local counterpart and could be
classified as a high SEWB score, whereas the Local School has a moderate to high score. The difference in scores
between the two schools is statistically significant with a moderate strength, meaning that it is likely that students at
the Local School are experiencing lower levels of SEWB than their counterpart. We can gain a better understanding
of SEWB by looking at the individual dimensions that make it up and the patterns that arise. The dimension of
SEWB that has the strongest d effect, and indeed the highest d effect of all pairs investigated in this study, is
Educational Satisfaction. Educational Satisfaction has a d effect higher than SEWB does and, is the lowest scoring
category of all the Local School responses. It is worth adding too, that Educational Satisfaction is one of the two
dimensions in the study that does not present any potential overlap due to sampling error giving added reliability to
the findings. Educational Affect by contrast presented less significant differences. Lastly Educational Flourishing
was almost constant between the two groups.
The Educational Flourishing dimension was one of the two in the survey that proved to be statistically
similar between the two populations and was highly interiorized by both the samples which were made up of
mainly Confucian Heritage Culture students and a large contingent of Indian students who display certain
similarities in their ethos to education; a keen sense of duty [] shared by students across collectivist cultures
(Rao, Pearson & Cheng, 2013, p. 134). Both their mean scores were the highest of all the SEWB dimensions and
outperformed the SEWB mean with high scores above 4. The choice to include the Eudaimonic construct proved
judicious in what otherwise would have been lower overall scores if only Hedonic forms of SEWB had been taken
into account. There was strong agreement between the two groups on the utility of their education (Item 1), plans
for their future education (Item 6) and communicating and cooperating with others regarding academic work (Item
3) (Table 5.6). However, being interested in their education (Item 2) was the item which showed the biggest
divergence in means with the International School group giving significantly higher appraisals. Lastly the item
which had the lowest mean for both groups related to their ability to make others happy through their behavior and
attitudes (Item 4), a point we shall come back to later in the relationships dimensions.
Educational Affect showed a higher level of divergence than Educational Flourishing, but still remained
moderate. It would therefore appear that the differences in experiences of the two populations only mildly influence
their emotional and affective balance. Despite this the items about feeling good (Item 1) or happy (Item 2) (Table
5.6) at school were the two that had the biggest spread with the International School experiencing higher levels of
positive emotions. The lowest score in both groups was related to nervousness (Item 5) (Table 5.6) and the second
lowest in both groups was about being worried (Item 6), maybe a reflection of educational experiences in Hong
Kong.
Educational Satisfaction was the dimension which showed the strongest effect out of all of the dimensions
under investigation. The Local Schools score for Educational Satisfaction was in fact the lowest out of all of the
dimensions investigated in either the Local or International Schools. This deserves attention. Methodological issues
71

may have contributed to this, with a lesser number of items being evaluated in this dimension and thus each item
having a greater impact on the overall score of the dimension. Item 3 (Table 5.6) is of particular note, and asked
students to what extent they would like to change many things in their education. The wording of the question may
have been ambiguous with students potentially viewing it in either a positive or negative light. The spirit of the
question though was that this was a negative perception. Both groups had their lowest score on this item and the
Local Schools mean was the lowest of the whole survey showing that the Local School expectancies for their
education were far from being met. However, the other two items that the Local School responded to, concerning
how much students like their education and their feeling about how good their education is, were considerably
higher and above the midpoint. Despite these reservations, the Educational Satisfaction findings are important with
regards to the other dimensions of SEWB and its overall makeup. The story that this is possibly telling us could be
resumed in the following manner; students feel fulfilled possibly owing to a sense cultural duty, the experiences
derived from the two groups mean that their emotions diverge moderately but it is their cognitive appraisal of their
educational conditions which shows significant differences. Both sets of students have a high sense of purpose, the
International School is marginally happier than the Local School but it is considerably more critical when it comes
to the level of satisfaction it has with its educational experiences.
Table
5.6: Mean Differences and Effects for SEWB Individual Items by Group
Table 4.6: Mean Differences and Effects for SEWB Individual Items by Group
Local School
Variable
SEWB

International School

SD

SD

3.73

.59

267

4.00

.44

102

Mean
Cohens d
Difference
.27
-.51

EDU SATIS
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3

3.39
3.96
3.94
2.27

.70
.91
.87
1.10

267
267
267
267

3.92
4.19
4.33
3.23

.51
.64
.59
.78

102
102
102
102

.53
.22
.39
.95

-.81
-.27
-.49
-.94

EDU AFFECT
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6
Item 7
Item 8
Item 9
Item 10

3.74
3.97
4.00
3.64
3.88
3.25
3.34
3.98
3.76
3.84
3.69

.73
.93
.99
1.07
1.08
1.22
1.25
1.16
1.10
1.06
1.22

267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267

3.92
4.30
4.32
3.91
3.90
3.46
3.56
4.08
3.85
3.98
3.82

.56
.74
.79
.87
.87
.96
.94
.90
.85
.93
1.06

102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102

.18
.34
.32
.27
.02
.21
.21
.10
.09
.14
.13

-.27
-.38
-.34
-.27
-.02
-.18
-.19
-.09
-.09
-.14
-.11

EDU FLOUR
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6

4.05
4.36
3.98
4.03
3.88
3.90

.70
.80
.91
1.02
.95
.91

267
267
267
267
267
267

4.18
4.61
4.38
4.02
3.91
3.95

.53
.55
.56
.83
.79
.75

102
102
102
102
102
102

4.16

1.04

267

4.19

.78

102

.13
.24
.40
-.01
.03
.05
.02

-.20
-.34
-.48
.01
-.03
-.06
-.03

72

5.4.2 Explanatory Factors


Mirroring the Educational Flourishing dimension of SEWB, Learning Experiences results were statistically
similar in both groups. Learning Experiences was also the highest scoring explanatory factor dimension. Both
Local and International School responded very positively on this dimension. The finding is rather surprising as it
seems to imply that despite the many differences in approaches to education and curricular organisations in the two
schools, the children have approximately the same conceptions of their learning in the meta-anaylses that they
provide. The results are maybe less surprising though when taken in conjunction with the Educational Flourishing
dimension of SEWB. The parallel can be drawn between this explanatory factor and the SEWB dimension, as the
Learning Experiences items were drafted so as to include aspects of Maslows self-actualisation needs which can
also be found in Eudaimonic constructs. When carrying out correlational analysis the SEWB and Learning
Experiences had the third strongest correlation with a moderate to strong positive effect of r = .62. Both sets of
students rated getting good grades (Item 9) highest (Table 5.7), with only a small mean differential between the
two. Other very similar and positive sets of responses included studies making students into better and
Table 5.7: Mean Differences & Effects for Learning Experiences Individual Items by Group

Table 4.7: Mean Differences and Effects for Learning Experiences Individual Items by Group
Local School
Variable
LEARN EXP
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6
Item 7
Item 8
Item 9
Item 10
Item 11
Item 12
Item 13
Item 14
Item 15
Item 16

M
4.01
2.91
2.55
3.72
4.00
4.06
4.25
4.48
3.82
4.69
4.16
4.13
4.57
4.35
4.06
4.28
4.07

SD
.53
1.27
1.22
1.09
1.07
.96
.84
.70
1.14
.64
.92
.99
.82
.82
1.06
.88
1.08

International School
N
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267

SD

4.05
3.46
3.42
3.73
3.73
4.22
3.96
4.24
4.37
4.57
4.25
4.10
4.55
4.07
4.24
4.26
3.57

.42
.96
.91
.77
.87
.71
.73
.85
.66
.62
.79
.80
.65
.74
.77
.69
.91

102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102

73

Mean
Cohens d
Difference
.04
-.08
.55
-.46
.87
-.76
.01
-.01
-.28
.27
.16
-.18
-.29
.36
-.25
.32
.55
-.54
-.12
.19
.09
-.10
-.03
.03
-.02
.03
-.28
.35
.18
-.18
-.01
.02
-.50
.48

kinder people (Item 11), trying hard at school (Item 12), feedback from family (Item 15) or independent study (Item
3). Certain items though, did have marked differences and in fact Learning Experiences had an item with the
second biggest differential out of any of the explanatory factors items; having problems with tests and exams (Item
2). Item 2 was in fact also the lowest scoring item for both groups in Learning Experiences but was notably low for
the Local Schools students being one of the lowest scores in the whole survey. Item 8, regarding the enjoyment of
learning was the item with the second biggest effect and was the Local Schools second lowest scoring item and
below the midpoint too.
It is worth considering the four other explanatory dimensions together for the purposes of comparison. If
we refer back to Table 5.3 and remember the construction of the theoretical framework, both educational conditions
and relationships were split into two categories; the school and the home. The aim of following such a socioecological approach was to ground the findings in the Hong Kong context where the cultural capital derived from
the family is an important factor in education. We can see from both groups scores that Conditions and
Relationships at home were rated lower than the same factors at school. The finding is noteworthy and shows that
higher levels of expectancy from parents are not always well-perceived by children. Regarding the Home
Relationships dimension (Table 5.8), for both the Local and International School, families expecting too much of
them (Item 5), was the lowest score. Item 5 was also the response with the biggest mean difference meaning that
the Local School felt especially poorly about this aspect even when compared to the International Schools low
score. Item 8 had the second biggest differential with the Local School feeling considerably less comfortable with
the level of strictness of their families compared to the International Schools children. The most positive response
for both groups was rather paradoxical but perhaps logical, as students strongly agreed that their families
encouraged them to do well at school (Item 4).
Home Conditions was the lowest scoring explanatory dimension for both groups with a string of items with
responses below the mid-point on the scale. Equally many of the responses had big mean differences making it the
explanatory dimension with the second biggest effect, r = -.52. Item 2 had the biggest difference with the Local
School students in particular feeling quite strongly that they have too much work to do at home (Table 5.9). Item 3
was the lowest scoring for both groups and had a strong effect too. Students felt that they also had a lot of extra
work to do at home on top of their homework. In line with the above appraisals of Home Conditions, students from
the Local School especially felt pressured by the work they do at home (Item 5). This all possibly contributes to the
students deeming that restlessness or tiredness disturbs their work at home (Item 7); the second lowest score for
both groups with another high mean difference. Lastly, the Local School students in particular felt that they had too
many extra-curricular activities to do before or after school.
Despite the higher scores of both School Conditions and Relationships in both groups compared to their
home counterparts, these two explanatory dimensions had the highest d effects at -.75 and -.52 respectively,
pointing towards differences in schooling environments having an observed effect on students. They also acted as
the best predictors for SEWB with strong r coefficients of .74 and .68 respectively. It is therefore fitting to conclude
this discussion with these two factors as they can possibly provide us with insights into the variations of SEWB
scores. Responses given for School Relations (Table 5.8) are consistent with those given on Home Relations in that
74

the Local School students felt most negatively about their teachers expecting too much of them (Item 8) just as
what the case with their parents. This was the item with the highest effect between the two groups in both the
School and Home Relations dimensions. The item with the second the highest effect (Item 7), as was the case with
parents in Home Relations, was the opinion that Local School teachers were too strict. The next biggest divergence
was on the fair treatment of students (Item 6).
Regarding School Conditions, rather interestingly, having too much work to do, did not prove to differ
significantly between groups as it did in Home Conditions. However, a number of other workload-related factors
were similar in their divergence with the Local School students feeling more negatively about the pressure of the
work they do at school (Item 4) and about restlessness or tiredness disturbing their school work (Item 6). Item 6
was the lowest scoring for both of the groups. Having enough time at school to take breaks to play, relax, do
physical activity or go to the toilet (Item 5) also fitted into this category having the second biggest effect. Finally,
another category of responses in School Conditions emerged as being highly differentiated between the two groups
and related to the physical environment per se. The item with the biggest effect in School Conditions and indeed out
of all of the items answered upon in the survey was Item 8; my school and classroom are nice and beautiful. The
International Schools data consistently showed higher appraisals of its school environment with Item 9, there is
enough space in my school to study comfortably, and Item 7, my school has a good working and learning
atmosphere, confirming the trend. Thus School Conditions was the dimension with the second highest d effect
behind Educational Satisfaction meaning that it too had no overlap between the higher and lower confidence
intervals of the two groups and was strongly correlated with SEWB far ahead of the other explanatory dimensions.
Table 5.8: Mean Differences and Effects for School & Home Relationships Individual Items by Group
Table 4.8: Mean Differences and Effects for School & Home Relationships Individual Items by Group
Local School
Variable

SD

International School
N

SD

SCHOOL REL
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6
Item 7
Item 8
Item 9
Item 10
Item 11
Item 12

3.75
4.34
3.93
4.38
4.17
3.93
3.88
3.10
2.85
4.00
3.70
3.19
3.43

.62
1.02
1.21
.92
1.02
1.17
1.23
1.22
1.22
1.06
1.06
1.16
1.38

267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267

4.06
4.36
4.19
4.15
4.48
4.08
4.40
3.89
3.71
4.36
4.03
3.11
3.76

.50
.85
.88
.99
.69
.85
.76
.89
.92
.69
.79
.78
.90

102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102

HOME REL
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6
Item 7
Item 8
Item 9
Item 10
Item 11
Item 12

3.70
3.82
3.64
3.36
4.43
2.51
4.25
4.09
3.24
3.74
3.21
4.09
3.88

.66
1.25
1.19
1.33
.88
1.23
.97
1.09
1.30
1.18
1.27
1.11
1.15

267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267

3.91
3.80
3.50
3.68
4.47
3.29
4.21
4.17
3.88
3.87
3.53
4.17
4.22

.53
1.10
.95
.95
.71
1.06
.80
.86
.96
.83
.91
.87
.82

102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102

Mean
Cohens d
Difference
.31
-.53
.02
-.02
.26
-.23
-.23
.25
.31
-.33
.15
-.14
.53
-.47
.79
-.70
.86
-.75
.37
-.37
.33
-.33
-.08
.08
.33
-.26
.21
-.01
-.14
.32
.04
.78
-.04
.08
.65
.13
.32
.07
.34

-.34
.02
.12
-.26
-.05
-.66
.04
-.08
-.53
-.12
-.27
-.08
-.32

75

Table
Differencesand
andEffects
Effects
School
& Home
Conditions
Individual
Table5.9:
4.9: Mean
Mean Differences
forfor
School
& Home
Conditions
Items by
Group Items by Group
Local School
Variable

SD

International School
N

SD

SCHOOL COND
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6
Item 7
Item 8
Item 9
Item 10
Item 11
Item 12

3.61
4.17
3.14
3.71
3.08
3.38
2.40
3.95
3.57
3.84
4.32
3.77
4.03

.65
.84
1.26
1.13
1.28
1.39
1.31
1.05
1.14
1.10
.81
1.19
1.08

267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267

4.07
4.37
3.37
3.59
3.57
4.16
3.11
4.46
4.53
4.45
4.58
4.14
4.40

.47
.66
.91
.87
.92
.94
1.07
.61
.67
.84
.70
.90
.71

102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102

HOME COND
Item 1
Item 2
Item 3
Item 4
Item 5
Item 6
Item 7
Item 8
Item 9
Item 10
Item 11
Item 12
Item 13
Item 14

3.54
3.79
2.61
2.29
3.74
2.78
3.68
2.35
4.13
4.27
4.49
4.61
4.17
2.70
3.96

.57
1.08
1.23
1.23
1.16
1.28
1.39
1.25
1.00
.94
.79
.76
1.12
1.33
1.09

267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267
267

3.83
3.68
3.38
3.04
3.87
3.48
4.00
3.05
4.12
4.30
4.40
4.68
4.30
3.28
4.01

.54
.80
.80
1.10
.96
.99
1.01
1.20
.99
.90
.82
.58
.91
1.18
1.05

102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102
102

76

Mean
Cohens d
Difference
.46
-.76
.20
-.25
.23
-.20
-.12
.11
.49
-.41
.78
-.61
.70
-.57
.51
-.54
.96
-.93
.61
-.59
.26
-.33
.37
-.33
.38
-.37
.29
-.11
.77
.75
.13
.70
.32
.70
-.01
.03
-.09
.07
.14
.58
.05

-.52
.11
-.68
-.63
-.12
-.58
-.25
-.57
.01
-.03
.11
-.10
-.12
-.45
-.05

CHAPTER 6. CONCLUSION
6.1 Juxtaposition, Comparison and Hypotheses
The macro-system in which the two groups of children evolve is common to both groups, but the shared
historical, economic, political and socio-educational environments articulate themselves in independent manners in
the meso and micro-systems. The students live in an affluent developed economy and both groups above average
Subject Educational Wellbeing scores attest to this, signifying that the children for the most part have their
deficiency needs covered. However, the colonial past, economic stratification, political laissez-faire and the
decentralized nature of the education system mean that access to education is differentiated along with its ensuing
academic experiences. The similarities and differences in contextual factors (Table 6.1), when juxtaposed with the
findings from the survey outlined in Chapter 5, provide potential explanations into why these vary as they do.
On a structural level the two group settings provide similarities in the size of the educational systems,
organisation and oversight and in their governmental origins. The meso-system diverges owing to the
local/colonial, public/private and reduction/expansion dichotomies which translate into differing economic
resources and socio-educational realities. Both inequality and competition are high in Hong Kong with certain
segments of society being favoured in relation to others for reasons which are historic, economic or both. The
legacy of postcolonial Hong Kong means certain classes have taken up positions of influence in society and have a
stronger leverage in attracting educational capital than other strata which are given a lower level of prioritization in
line with a governmental ideology of cutting back on the public sector.
The history and geography of the two schools goes hand in hand with their economic stratification. The
different organisations of the campuses and their relocations are symptomatic of the resources available to the two
communities of children involved in the study, in a city where room is a luxury. The difference in pay between the
two sets of staff is representative of this too. The correlation between SEWB and School Conditions was the
strongest in the findings, with School Conditions displaying the most significant difference between the two groups
in the explanatory factors. Heyneman and Loxley (1983) state that in developed countries [m]ost previous research
on effects of schooling has concluded that the effect of school or teacher quality on academic achievement is less
than that of family background or other characteristics of students that predate entry into school (p. 1162) this may
not be the case for Subjective Educational Wellbeing. This is an important finding and replicates to the educational
domain Easterlins (1974) observations on within-country comparisons of Subjective Wellbeing that (p. 99):
In successive income groups from low to high the proportion very happy rises steadily. There is a
clear indication here that income and happiness are positively associated.
This situation could be remedied if policy-makers made choices to actively try and reduce inequalities of access to
education through redistribution. One possible approach would be to make Government Schools into benchmark
magnet schools which convey the governments vision of education as set out in its policy papers.

77

Table 6.1: Similarities and Differences in Contextual Factors


Local School

International School

Similar
Similar (Marketisation)

Similar
Similar (Decolonisation)

Public
Low
Single-service provider

Private (Subsidised until 2016)


High
Captive market approach

Similar
Decentralising Impetus
Audit Culture

Similar
Centralising Impetus
Audit Culture

Similar (34)
Decreasing (21131)
Medium
Local
Local
Progressive
Competitive
Assessment of Learning
Determinant & Frequent

Similar (12)
Increasing (8750)
High
International (High CHC & HK)
International (High Anglo-Saxon)
Progressive
Competitive
Assessment as Learning
Support role

No

Yes

Similar
Similar (1950's)
Inadapted
Half-day

Similar
Similar (Current Form 1949)
High-end Residential
Whole-day

Small & Old


1/11.8
443,370
Free
39,000

Large & New


1/7.5
711,012
74,100
20,940

Under-resourced

State-of-the art

Similar
Similar
Subject-Based
Vertical

Similar
Similar
Cross-Curricular
Horizontal

Meso-System
Historical
Government Origin
Government Disinvolvement

Economic
Financing Mode
Resources
Economic Diversification

Political
Structure
Power Allocation
Check and balances

Socio-Educational
Size of System
Enrolments
SES
Student
Staff
Intended Curriculum
Entrance Requirements
Assessment
Examinations
Through-train

Micro-System
Historical
Government Origin
Age of School
Location
Organisation

Economic
Campus
Staff to Student Ratio
Staff Salaries Average
Fees
Subvention
Equipment, infratructure,
eudcational support, materials

Political
Oversight
Management
Teaching Staff Organisation
Structure

Socio-Educational
International
CHC & Indian)

(High

Student Origin

Local

Teacher Origin

Local

International
(High Anglo-Saxon)

Enrolments

Similar (Stable) (775)

Similar (Stable) (895)

Reputation

High

Taught Curriculum

Subject-Based

Pedagogy

Traditional
(Teacher-centred)

High
Cross-Curricular Project
Learning
Progressive
(Student-centred)

High

Low

Conditioning

Self-regulating

Shared Duties

Main Point of Contact

Examnation and Assessement


Backwash
Educational Psychology &
Classroom Management
Class Teacher

78

School Conditions did not just include appraisals of the material factors but also workload-related aspects.
Here too contextual factors present significant differences in the micro-system at the level of the taught curriculum
and assessment. The Local / International dichotomy is apparent in the approaches to teaching and partially
explains on a philosophical level those differences, whereby the Local School follows a well-documented
Confucian style of teaching (though Confucius, were he alive, might dispute this) and the International School
(largely staffed by persons of Anglo-Saxon heritage) is more progressive, translating into lower and higher
workloads. However, economic factors contribute to this too with lower numbers of staff and resources in the Local
School to implement innovative strategies such as those advocated by the EC, CDC and EDB but also the costeffective setup of the Local School with Bray (2008, p. 107) noting that in some cases, double-shift schooling has
ironically increased rather than reduced problems of equity. The difference in assessment and examination regimes
though appears to be the strongest indicator in explaining the Local School levels of workload intensity and how
this was respectively received by both groups of children in their appraisals. Despite the prestige and competitive
entry requirements of both schools, the International School students do not have the same pressure to succeed
owing to the through-train nature of their system and that they are not bounded by the Hong Kong mainstream
examinations system whereby access to secondary school and thus university is highly selective. This further gives
rise to a streamed and subject-based curricular organisation in the Local School which has an alienating effect on
both teachers and students (WHO, 2012). The poor perceptions of school that many children from OECD countries
(OECD, 2009, p. 58; WHO, 2012, p. 46), of a similar level of development as Hong Kong, show that this
phenomenon is not isolated and should be an area of concern for policy-makers especially in light of the apparent
inverse correlation between happiness and achievement observed in PISA 2012 data (Thompson, 2013, December
3) fitting in with Ahonens (2010, p. 17) analysis of the Finnish PISA 2006 data, that showed that there was a
positive connection between good academic results and low school satisfaction. A redefinition of examination
and selection requirements at the primary level and the increase in supply of quality schools and teachers would
alleviate this distortion of the educational process which occurs as a result of summative backwash.
Though the survey findings on the home conditions and relationships did not correlate as well with SEWB
as School Conditions, they proved to be the lowest scoring dimensions with Home Conditions being the second
highest correlate indicating that workload factors are passed on to the home setting and impact relationships
negatively. The findings were paradoxical when taken in the light of the results on Eudaimonic wellbeing from the
Educational Flourishing Dimension which were the most positive. The similarly high Learning Experiences scores
are also indicative of this sense of this sense of fulfilment, growth and progress. Therefore we could conceptualize
while parental relationships may be fraught at times, students in both settings felt that they were accomplishing
their duty in line with the values of the samples mainly Confucian Heritage Cultural background. Such values are
interiorised through an educational socialization process (Dewey, 1916, p. 61) specific to Hong Kong and not
necessarily replicable to other cultures. This aspect of needs-satisfaction appears well-suited to Confucian Heritage
Cultures, acting as a moderating variable in overall Subjective Educational Wellbeing and partially explaining a
traditionally high achievement orientation. Despite this, Hedonic needs must also be addressed, with the
significantly lower scores on Educational Satisfaction and Affect in the Local School showing that education may
come at the expense of pleasure, something which was not the case in the International School.
79

6.2 Limitations & Lines for Further Research


Issues of reliability and generalisability mean that these findings have to be presented with caution, but
appear to be representative of the contexts under investigation. These findings can provide insights into the wider
Hong Kong system and other international contexts that might present similar traits. To improve this, further
research could include a larger sample base of Government and ESF system schools rather than only the two
schools involved in the survey which presented their own specific micro-characteristics.
Concerning questionnaire construction, this was done within the limited constraints of an MEd dissertation
and could no doubt have been enriched with further expertise, collaboration and testing. Overall the questionnaire
appeared to be well-received but may have been too long and complex. Some students did not take the time to
properly address the questionnaire or were overwhelmed. The tendency to give socially acceptable answers is
another potentially confounding issue; and despite the best attempts to ensure that the delivery of survey was not
under the influence of adults this factor remains ever present especially for primary-aged children (Kostenius,
2007).
The Eudaimonic and socio-ecological features added to the instruments reliability especially in the Hong
Kong context. However the inability to contextualize with great precision the home environments (as opposed to
the school setting) is a limiting factor. Questionnaires could be sent out to parents on SES-related aspects and
educational beliefs in a more ambitious project. Interviews also would enrich the findings giving students more of a
free-rein to vocalise their own lived experiences. Equally other open ended written forms of communication could
have been relied upon.
More advanced statistical analysis would be beneficial to the analysis of the results including multi-factor
analysis. The present instrument, while possibly not being an exact tool for measuring finite levels of subjective
educational wellbeing, does provide a useful scale for comparison. Further triangulation of the results would add
the reliability of the findings and could be done with the Local School through the APASO mechanism. Other lines
of inquiry could have been addressed too to further enrich the findings including gender analysis, inter-class/form
analysis, age-difference analysis and more in-depth qualitative work on how wellbeing is specifically included and
addressed in the curriculum.
6.3 Concluding Remarks
This research has produced a theoretical framework and instrument capable of measuring childrens
Subjective Educational Wellbeing and perceptions of explanatory factors in their school and home educational
environments (Research Question 1). The distribution of the two groups SEWB and explanatory factors showed
stronger inter-group rather than intra-group variance with the null hypothesis being rejected meaning that overall
levels of SEWB were significantly different between the two groups, with the International Schools levels being
higher than the Local School (Research Question 2). The contextualization of the results along with the analysis
and classification of the survey data allowed the juxtaposition of the similarities and differences providing criteria
for comparability (Research Question 3). Differing degrees of inequality in resources, workloads and
80

competitiveness measured by the subjective perception of School Conditions served as the strongest predictor of
Subjective Educational Wellbeing (Research Question 4). This research hopes to have shown that by not only
measuring human capital but also emotional capital derived from educational experiences, Subjective Educational
Wellbeing can help us contribute to improving child wellbeing by identifying factors in the educational domain that
contribute to holistic personal growth and a socially sustainable education.

81

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93

APPENDIX 1. QUESTIONNAIRE ENGLISH

SubjectiveEducationalWellbeingSurvey
Thereare9pagesinthissurvey.Pleaseanswereveryquestion.
*Required

ABOUTYOU
1. Areyouagirloraboy?*
Markonlyoneoval.
Girl
Boy
2. Howoldareyou?*
Markonlyoneoval.
7yearsold
8yearsold
9yearsold
10yearsold
11yearsold
12yearsold
13yearsold
3. Whatcountrydoyoucomefrom?*
Choosetwoatmost.
Checkallthatapply.
Australia
Canada
China
GreatBritain
HongKong
India
Japan
Korea
Pakistan
Philippines
OtherAsian
OtherEuropean
Other:
94

4. Whatlanguagedoyouspeakmostathome?*
Markonlyoneoval.
English
Chinese(Mandarin)
Chinese(Cantonese)
Korean
Japanese
Hindi
Tagalo
Other:
5. Wholiveswithyou?*
Checkallthatapply.
Mother
Father
Grandfather
Grandmother
Helper
Brother(Older)
Brother(Younger)
Sister(Older)
Sister(Younger)
Other:
6. Whatclassareyouin?*
Markonlyoneoval.
5D
5G
5K
5M
5MC
6P
6A
6D
6L
6W

THISSECTIONISFINISHED
PLEASEGOTOTHENEXTPAGE

95

THINGSYOUFEEL
Thesequestionsareabouthowyoufeelaboutyoureducation.Educationisallthethingsthat
youdoatschoolbutalsoathomeorinotherplacessuchastutorialcentresorclubs.
Educationiswhenyoustudyandlearnaboutthingsbutcanalsoincludeotheractivitiessuch
asart,music,sportsorwhenyougotovisitplaceslikemuseums.
7. Imagineyouareonaladder.Thetopoftheladder5isthebestpossible
educationforyouandthebottom1istheworstpossibleeducationforyou.Most
ofthetime,whereontheladderdoyoufeelyoustand?Choosethenumberthat
showswhereyouarestanding.*
Markonlyoneoval.
1

Worstpossible
education

Bestpossible
education

8. Howmuchdoyoulikeyoureducation?*
Markonlyoneoval.
Iloveit
Ilikeit
So,so
Idonotlikeit
Ihateit
9. Iwouldliketochangemanythingsinmyeducation.*
Howmuchdoyouagreeornotwiththissentence?
Markonlyoneoval.
Stronglyagree
Agree
Neitheragreenordisagree
Disagree
Stronglydisagree
10. Howoftendoyoufeelthiswayaboutyoureducation?*
Markonlyoneovalperrow.
VeryOften Often Sometimes
GOOD
HAPPY
BAD
SAD
NERVOUS
WORRIED
ANGRY
CONFIDENT
CALM
RELAXED

96

Rarely

VeryRarely

11. Howmuchdoyouagreeornotwiththesesentences?*
Markonlyoneovalperrow.
Strongly
agree

Agree

Myeducationisuseful.

Myeducationis
interesting.

Ienjoytalkingtoother
peopleaboutmy
educationandworking
withthemtheyhelpme
alot.

Myattitudeand
behaviourinmy
educationare
satisfactoryandmake
otherpeoplehappy.

Myperformanceand
resultsinmyeducation
aresatisfactoryand
makeotherpeople
happy.

Ihavemanyplansfor
myeducationandthink
itwillbegoodwhenIam
older.

THISSECTIONISFINISHED

PLEASEGOTOTHENEXTPAGE
97

Donotagreeor
disagree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

LEARNINGCONDITIONSATSCHOOL
12. Howmuchdoyouagreeornotwiththesesentences?*
Markonlyoneovalperrow.
Strongly
agree

Agree

Ilikegoingtoschool.

Ihavetoomuchworkto
doatschool.

Ihaveenoughtimeto
finishalltheworkat
school.

Ifeelpressuredbythe
workIdoatschool.

Ihaveenoughtimeat
schooltotakebreaksto
play,relax,dophysical
activityorgotothe
toilet.

Restlessnessor
tirednessdisturbsmy
schoolwork.

Myschoolhasagood
workingandlearning
atmosphere.

Myschooland
classroomareniceand
beautiful.
Thereisenoughspace
inmyschooltostudy
comfortably.

IhaveallthethingsI
needtostudyinmy
school,suchas
computersorbooks.

Meandmybelongings
aresafeatschool.

Myschoolrulesarefair
andreasonable.

THISSECTIONISFINISHED

PLEASEGOTOTHENEXTPAGE
98

Donotagreeor
disagree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

LEARNINGCONDITIONSATHOME
13. Howmuchdoyouagreeornotwiththesesentences?*
Markonlyoneovalperrow.
Strongly
agree

Agree

Ienjoystudyingat
home.

Ihavetoomuchworkto
doathome.

Ihavealotofextrawork
ontopofmyhomework
todoathome.

Ihaveenoughtimeto
completeallmyworkat
home.

Ifeelpressuredbythe
workIdoathome.

Ihaveenoughtimeto
takebreaks,toplay,
relaxordophysical
activityathome.

Restlessnessor
tirednessdisturbsmy
workathome.

Myhomehasagood
workingandlearning
atmosphere.

Thereisenoughspace
inmyhometostudy
comfortably.

IhaveallIneedtostudy
inmyhome,suchas
computersorbooks.

Meandmybelongings
aresafeathome.

Therulesathomeare
fairandreasonable.

Ihavetoomanyextra
curricularactivitiestodo
beforeorafterschool.

Iliketheextracurricular
activitiesIhavetodo
beforeorafterschool.

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99

Donotagreeor
disagree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

LEARNINGRELATIONSHIPSATSCHOOL
14. Howmuchdoyouagreeornotwiththesesentences?*
Markonlyoneovalperrow.
Strongly
agree

Agree

Ihaveenoughfriendsat
school.

Mostofthestudentsin
myclassarekindand
helpfultoeachother.

Ilikeworkinginteams.

Myteachersarekind
andhelpful.

Myteachersare
interestedinwhatIam
doing,thinkingor
feeling.

Myteacherstreatme
fairly.

Myteachersaretoo
strict.

Myteachersexpecttoo
muchofme.

Myteachersencourage
me.

Myteachersthinkmy
performanceisgood.

Myteachersthinkmy
performanceisbetter
thanotherstudents.

Thingswouldbebetterif
Ihaddifferentteachers.

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100

Donotagreeor
disagree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

LEARNINGRELATIONSHIPSATHOME
15. Howmuchdoyouagreeornotwiththesesentences?*
Markonlyoneovalperrow.
Strongly
agree

Agree

Ihaveenoughtimeto
playwithmyfriendsin
mysparetime.

Ioftentalkaboutwork
withmyfamily.

Ienjoytalkingabout
workwithmyfamily.

Myfamilyencourages
metodowellatschool.

Myfamilyexpectstoo
muchofme.

Myfamilygivesme
enoughhelpwithmy
work.

Ilikeitwhenmyfamily
helpsmewithmywork.

Myfamilyistoostrict.

Myfamilythinksmy
performanceisgood.

Myfamilythinksmy
performanceisgood
comparedtoothers.

Myfamilyisinterested
inwhatIthinkandfeel.

Igetonwellwithmy
tutorsandtheother
peoplewhoorganise
activitiesforme.

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101

Donotagreeor
disagree

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

LEARNINGEXPERIENCES
16. Howmuchdoyouagreeornotwiththesesentences?*
Markonlyoneovalperrow.
Strongly
agree

Agree

Donotagreeor
disagree

Ihaveproblems
understandingmy
lessonsandtheworkI
havetodo.

Ihaveproblemswithmy
testsandexams.
Istudywellonmyown.
Ioftenaskfor
explanationsforthings
thatIdonot
understand.

Ilearnfrommy
mistakes.

IoftenapplythingsthatI
havelearntbeforeto
newproblems.

Ihavetothinktodomy
work.
Ienjoylearning.

Ienjoyreceivinggood
grades.
Icanfreelyexpress
myselfandbecreative
inmystudies.

Mystudieshavemade
meintoabetterand
kinderperson.

IfItryhardinmy
studies,Iwillgetbetter
resultsandgetintoa
goodsecondaryschool.

Iamclearaboutwhat
thegoalsofmylearning
areandwhatIhaveto
do.
Myteacherstellme
abouthowwellIam
doinginmyworkand
howIcanimprove.
Myfamilytellmeabout
howwellIamdoingin
myworkandhowIcan
improve.
Icanchoosehowand
whatIstudy.

THE END
102

Disagree

Strongly
disagree

Flat 31 A, Block 19,


Park Island, Ma Wan, N. T.,
Hong Kong S.A.R.

18th March, 2015

Dear Principal,

I am Mr. Simon Matthew HERD, a Master of Education student at the University of Hong
Kong under the supervision of Professor Mark BRAY. I am conducting a research
dissertation on the Subjective Educational Well-being of Hong Kong primary school children
to fulfil the requirements of my programme of study. I request permission for your Key Stage
2 students to participate in this research.

Subjective Educational Wellbeing measures self-reported educational satisfaction, positive &


negative feelings and self-fulfillment. The research aims to help improve the monitoring and
understanding of Subjective Wellbeing in the educational context thus providing a greater
degree of support for students psycho-social and emotional development. It also hopes to
gain a greater understanding of factors that might positively or negatively impact participants
Subjective Educational Wellbeing. All the Key Stage 2 students in your school will be asked
to take part in this survey. The more respondents volunteer, the greater the reliability of the
findings, to that end I would be grateful of your support in the matter.

Page 1 of 5
103

For the purposes of this research I want to ask you to do five things:
1. Give me permission for your schools students to participate in this research by answering
a questionnaire.
2. Give me the permission, for the purposes of this research only, to use the information that
has been collected.
3. Ask the parents of the children in your school to read and complete the informed consent
form and help their children to read and complete, should they wish to participate, the student
assent form.
4. Allow me to conduct the research on your premises.
5. Allow me to complement the findings by including some informal observations and
accessing a number of educational documents such as the curriculum, syllabus, rules &
regulations, mission statements, etc. I would be happy to seek your permission for these
matters on a case-by-case basis.
The study your students are asked to participate in will take the following format:
1. Answer a questionnaire which will be administered via an online survey

2. Answer questions in that questionnaire relating to demographic information, Subjective


Educational Wellbeing and educational variables related to Subjective Educational Wellbeing.

3. Complete the survey in their school classroom or within a designated computer area within
their school. Complete the survey on the same date, time and place as the rest of their
classmates.

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104

4. Participate in the main survey once only but there is a small chance some of your students
will be also asked to participate in the pilot phase of the research to ensure the validity and
reliability of the questionnaire.

5. Attend and participate in the administration of the survey whose total duration should not
exceed one hour.

6. Take the survey within a period starting from the date of reception of your consent and
your students parent consent and child assent and ending on the 31st August 2015.

Potential risks to your students


The risks or discomforts presented to your students are minimal, and involve only answering
a series of questions. Mild fatigue may be experienced, as in any form of survey or
examination that your students regularly takes part in, but will be kept to a minimum because
the survey is self-paced and your students are free to take short breaks. Some of the questions
relate to personal experience but are not invasive and should not provide any greater
discomfort than those asked of them in everyday life. Moreover, the questions have been
based on existing professionally-designed questionnaires that have already been clinically
trialed. Concerning the individuals involved in collecting the data, they are qualified
education professionals who are not directly involved in the day to day educational
experiences of your students thereby reducing the risk of a conflict of interest. Lastly, your
students participation is voluntary. This means that they can choose to stop at any time
without negative consequences.

Page 3 of 5
105

Anonymity, Confidentiality & Storage of Data


The questionnaire is anonymous and cannot be traced back to individuals. The school that
your students belong to, will also not be referred to directly by name. Any information
obtained in this study will remain very strictly confidential, will be made known to no-one
else, and will be used for research purposes only. Codes, not names, are used on all survey
instruments to protect confidentiality. The administration of the survey will mainly be carried
out using computers which reduces the risk of compromising anonymity. The data will be
stored during a first phase on an online database whilst the survey is being conducted which
will only be accessible via a password known to myself. Once the results have been finalised
the data will be transferred to a secure computer and the online database will be deleted. The
data will be stored on the secure computer until the end of the research probation period after
which it shall be destroyed. The data that is stored on this computer will be encrypted and its
access secured through a password. No audio or video recording will be used.
Questions and Concerns
If you have any questions or concerns about this research study, please feel free to contact me
at the following address:
Mr. Simon Matthew HERD
Hennessy Road Government Primary P.M. School
169 Thomson Road, Wan Chai
Telephone: 25726633 Mobile: 60414607
Email: herd.simon@gmail.com
If you have questions about the rights of your child as a research participant, contact the
Human Research Ethics Committee for Non-Clinical Faculties, HKU (2241-5267).
Page 4 of 5
106

PRINCIPAL CONSENT FOR SCHOOL PARTICIPATION IN THE SURVEY:


Subjective Educational Wellbeing
ADMINISTERED BY:
Mr. Simon Matthew HERD

SIGNATURE

I _________________________________ (Name of Principal) understand the procedures


described above and agree to participate in this study.

________________________________________
Signature of Principal

Date

Date of Preparation: 18/03/2015


Expiration date: 31/08/2015

Page 5 of 5
107

University of Hong Kong,


20th April, 2015

Dear Parent or Guardian,

Subject: Consent Request for Research


I am Mr. Simon Matthew HERD, a parent at KJS and a member of the School Council. I am
also a Master of Education student at the University of Hong Kong under the supervision of
Professor Mark BRAY. In order to fulfil the requirements of my programme of study, I am
conducting a research dissertation on the Subjective Educational Well-being of Hong Kong
primary school children. I would like to request your permission to allow your child to
participate in this research by completing the attached survey. This should take around 15
minutes.

Subjective Educational Wellbeing measures self-reported educational satisfaction, positive &


negative feelings and self-fulfillment. The research aims to help improve the monitoring and
understanding of Subjective Wellbeing in the educational context thus providing a greater
degree of support for students psycho-social and emotional development. It also hopes to
gain a greater understanding of factors that might positively or negatively impact participants
Subjective Educational Wellbeing. All the Year 5 and 6 students in your childs school are
being asked to take part in this survey. The more respondents volunteer, the greater the
reliability of the findings.

Page 1 of 5
108

For the purposes of this research I want to ask you to do five things:
1. Give me permission for your child to participate in this research by signing this consent
form.
2. Ask your child to read and sign, should he or she wish to participate, the attached student
assent form.
3. Allow your child to answer the attached questionnaire in his or her own time and respect
the confidentiality of his or her responses.
4. Ensure your child returns all of the completed forms and the questionnaire to his or her
class teacher at your earliest convenience.
5. Give me the permission to use the information that has been collected for the purposes of
the research.
Potential risks to your child
The risks or discomforts presented to your child are minimal, and involve only answering a
series of questions. Mild fatigue may be experienced, as in any form of survey or
examination that your child regularly takes part in, but will be kept to a minimum because
your child is free to choose the pace at which he or she completes the survey. Some of the
questions relate to personal experience but are not invasive and should not provide any
greater discomfort than those asked of them in everyday life. Moreover, the questions have
been based on existing professionally-designed questionnaires that have already been
clinically trialed. The individual involved in collecting the data, Mr. Simon Herd, is a
qualified education professional who is not directly involved in the day to day educational
experiences of your child thereby reducing the risk of a conflict of interest. Lastly, your
childs participation is voluntary. This means that he or she can choose to stop at any time
without negative consequences.

Page 2 of 5
109

Anonymity, Confidentiality & Storage of Data


The questionnaire is anonymous and cannot be traced back to individuals. The school that
your child belongs to, will also not be referred to directly by name. Any information obtained
in this study will remain very strictly confidential, will be made known to no-one else, and
will be used for research purposes only. The questionnaires will be destroyed upon
completion of the Master of Education.

Questions and Concerns


If you have any questions or concerns about this research study, please feel free to contact me
at the following address:
Mr. Simon Matthew HERD
Flat 31 A, Block 19, Park Island, Ma Wan
Telephone: 6041 4607
Email: herd.simon@gmail.com
If you have questions about the rights of your child as a research participant, contact the
Human Research Ethics Committee for Non-Clinical Faculties, HKU (2241-5267).
You may also contact my supervisor Prof. Mark BRAY at the Faculty of Education.
Email: mbray@hku.hk

Yours sincerely,

Simon Herd

Page 3 of 5
110

Page 4 of 5
111

PARENT CONSENT FOR CHILDS PARTICIPATION IN THE SURVEY:


Subjective Educational Wellbeing
ADMINISTERED BY:
Mr. Simon Matthew HERD

SIGNATURE
I _________________________________ (Name of Parent or Guardian) understand the
procedures described above and agree to participate in this study.

________________________________________
Signature of Parent or Guardian

Date

________________________________________
Name of Child (Full name in English)

Class

Class number

Date of Preparation: 13/04/2015


Expiration date: 31/08/2015

Page 5 of 5
112

University of Hong Kong,


13th April, 2015

Dear Student,

I am Mr. Simon Matthew HERD, a Master of Education student at the University of Hong
Kong and my teacher is Professor Mark BRAY. I am also a parent at KJS and a member of
the School Council. I am writing a project to find out about what primary school students and
children like you think about their education. To help me finish my work I would like you to
answer some questions for me on the paper I have given you.
Some of the questions are about how much you enjoy school and studying or how much work
you have to do. The questions also talk about how you get along with other people in your
life or the way you learn things. The things I find out can help you and other children have a
better time. All your classmates are being asked to do the same thing. The more of you that
help, the better I can help you and your friends.

I am asking your family permission too about this but want to make sure you are okay with
this too. If you choose to help me, you will have to do these things

1. Read this letter with your parents. If you want to take part in this project, sign your
name on this letter in front of your parents. Then bring this letter and your parents
signed letter and give them to your class teacher.

2. Answer all the questions on the paper I have given to you. Bring the paper back to
school and give to your class teacher.

3. Let me use your answers in my project.

113

The questions are not hard and will not hurt you. The questions are not harder than any of
your exams and should only take 15 minutes to answer them all. You can answer them where
and when you like. You can choose not to do this for me and nothing bad will happen to you,
this is voluntary. Some questions are personal but no one will know that it is you who
answered them and I will not use the name of your school in my project. Your answers will
not be given to your teachers or parents or anyone else but to me and even I will not know
who wrote the answers as you will not write your name on the paper. Once my project is
finished and my teachers tell me I can, I will destroy all of the results that I got from you.
That will probably be in a years time.
If you have any questions or are worried about taking part in this project, please feel free to
contact me at the following address:

Mr. Simon Matthew HERD


Flat 31 A, Block 19, Park Island, Ma Wan
Telephone: 6041 4607
Email: herd.simon@gmail.com
Or if you want to talk to someone else from my university about your rights you can contact
the Human Research Ethics Committee for Non-Clinical Faculties, HKU (2241-5267).
You may also contact my teacher Prof. Mark BRAY at the Faculty of Education.
Email: mbray@hku.hk

Yours sincerely,

Simon Herd

114

STUDENT ASSENT FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE SURVEY:


Subjective Educational Wellbeing
ADMINISTERED BY:
Mr. Simon Matthew HERD

SIGNATURE
If you want to take part in this project, please put a tick in the following box and sign your
name besides it.

I agree to participate in this project.

Signature:__________________

Student Name (Full name in English letters):_______________________________________

Class: ______________

Class Number: _______

Date of Preparation: 13/04/2015


Expiration date: 31/08/2015

115

Date:______________________