Using Action Research to Assess Student Learning in Curriculum on Understanding Poverty


This case describes an action research project using nonparticipant observation and focus group interviews aimed at analyzing an innovative experiential learning curriculum designed to develop empathy among Chinese Hong Kong learners. The project involved two classes of students selected by teachers with a range of academic capabilities. The experiential curriculum consisted of both classroom-based inquiry activities and experiential learning at different poverty sites in Hong Kong, with pre-experiential learning classroom-based inquiry activities such as concept learning and concept clarification and post-experiential learning activities such as discussions and experience sharing. Community-based non-governmental organizations informed and prepared students and teachers prior to the students’ interviews with people at the poverty sites during the experimental learning visits, and the non-governmental organizations also guided students and teachers during their experiential learning. The results show that although young Hong Kong Chinese learners are often regarded as passive learners, they can develop abilities to understand other people’s perspectives through experiential learning activities and demonstrated their learning outcomes in post-experiential discussion and experience sharing. The case describes how nonparticipant observation and focus groups were used to understand the effectiveness of the experiential curriculum and gain students’ and teachers’ perspectives on what the students learned.

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