Learning and Teaching Liberal Studies

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Learning and Teaching Liberal Studies
This Course Guide has been taken from the most recent presentation of the course. It would be useful for reference purposes but please note that there may be updates for the following presentation.

EDU E880
Learning and Teaching Liberal Studies


EDU E880 Learning and Teaching Liberal Studies is a 20-credit, postgraduate level course. It is an online course in which you have to learn through online materials, together with printed Readings. You also need to participate in online activities which provide opportunities for collaboration, and for sharing and evaluating your views.

EDU E880 explores the various theories and concepts underlying aspects of curriculum, learning and assessment relevant to Liberal Studies, as well as management issues related to the implementation of this subject. It also guides you to complete an independent enquiry study in the same way as secondary school students of Liberal Studies.

Course aims

EDU E880 aims to equip you to teach Liberal Studies in secondary schools by providing you with the theoretical perspectives underpinning the Liberal Studies curriculum, and by giving you opportunities to experience learning through the Liberal Studies approach so that you can transform such experience into teaching practices through group interaction and reflection.

Course learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you should be able to:

  1. Analyse the principles underlying the design of a multidisciplinary curriculum and review critically the literature on this area.

  2. Evaluate the theoretical and practical aspects of learning by enquiry.

  3. Design, develop and evaluate learning and assessment activities for achieving the aims and objectives of Liberal Studies.

  4. Analyse the strategic concerns related to the implementation of Liberal Studies based on a critical examination of the potential tensions in professional development and multidisciplinary teamwork.

  5. Reflect on their current practice and readiness to lead teachers in their schools to meet the challenges of teaching Liberal Studies.

  6. Formulate a framework for future self-development as a Liberal Studies teacher and consider how change can be implemented.

Overview of the course

This course includes six parts, as follows:

Part 1: Curriculum principles in Liberal Studies
Part 2: Learning through enquiry
Part 3: Developing yourself as a learner of Liberal Studies
Part 4: Liberal Studies in action
Part 5: Assessment in Liberal Studies
Part 6: Managing the implementation of Liberal Studies.

Part 1 examines the new senior secondary Liberal Studies curriculum analytically and attempts to explore policymakers' intentions, the underlying rationale and its interdisciplinary nature. This Part also discusses the intended learning outcomes of Liberal Studies.

Part 2 explores the nature of enquiry learning, analyses the theoretical perspectives underlying the learning and teaching of Liberal Studies, and introduces the relevant pedagogies.

Part 3 supports you in experiencing enquiry learning as a learner. You will complete a small-scale project, similar to the Independent Enquiry Study (IES) for Liberal Studies students, so that you can reflect on your learning experience and consider how you can support your students in completing their IES projects.

Part 4 takes a practical approach to illustrate how the teaching strategies introduced in Part 2 can be put into actual practice in Liberal Studies classrooms. It also helps you to transform your learning experience in Part 3 into practical ways of helping secondary school students to carry out the IES.

Part 5 discusses the theoretical and practical aspects of assessment in Liberal Studies. It analyses the use of assessment in promoting learning, monitoring students' progress and providing feedback on teaching effectiveness. It also examines school-based assessment in Liberal Studies and introduces the types of examination questions that will be used in the external examination for the subject.

Part 6 analyses management issues related to implementing Liberal Studies. As a new compulsory senior secondary subject which is underpinned by a rationale which may be unfamiliar to many teachers, its effective implementation requires good leadership and appropriate change management strategies so that teachers change both conceptually and in their practice. This Part explains the management of curriculum change and teacher professional development for teaching and organizing Liberal Studies.

Course materials

As mentioned already, EDU E880 is an online course in which you should learn through materials which have been placed in the OUHK Online Learning Environment (OLE). However, we also provide you with the following printed materials:

  • a Course Guide
  • a Technical Guide
  • a Study Guide with Readings
  • an Assignment File
  • a Glossary.

Besides the above materials, you should also have access to the Liberal Studies Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4-6) (CDC and HKEAA, 2007). Although this Guide is available in the EMB's website, it will be more convenient if you have a hard copy to which you can refer as you work through EDU E880.

Course Guide

The Course Guide tells you briefly what EDU E880 is about, what it contains, and how you can work your way through this online course. It also gives you information about tutors, face-to-face sessions and assessment. Remember to refer to this Course Guide throughout the course to help clarify important points about studying EDU E880.

Technical Guide

The Technical Guide provides you with guidance on working through the course using the OLE. It also explains the functions of each component in the online learning material.

Study Guide

The Study Guide includes six Parts, each of which provides you with:

  • a framework showing the different topics and sub-topics and their relationships;
  • an introduction or overview;
  • the objectives to be achieved;
  • the key teaching content;
  • activities;
  • references; and
  • Readings .

However, the printed Study Guide is not self-contained as, for example, feedback on and further explanations of the various learning activities can only be accessed online.

Assignment File

The Assignment File provides an overview of the nature of the assignments and contains the five assignments for the course, together with guidelines for completing them. In addition, it includes sections on how to acknowledge your sources and write references.


The Glossary defines the key terms used in the course and you may find it useful to refer to it when you are uncertain about the meaning of any term.

Course organizer

The following table provides an overview of the course and suggests the amount of time it may take to complete each Part. However, we all have our own pace of learning and approaches to study, so the schedule is only a guide. You can adjust it to fit more closely with your personal needs. The important point is to plan your study schedule carefully. The estimated time, on average, that you need to spend on this course is about 18 hours per week. This estimate includes time for reading the online learning materials and the Readings, completing the online learning activities, writing your assignments, attending tutorials and the day school, and reviewing the learning materials.

Study materials Weeks of work Assessment
Part 1: Curriculum principles in Liberal Studies 4 Assignment 1
Part 2: Learning through enquiry 7 Assignment 2
Part 3: Developing yourself as a learner of Liberal Studies 8 Assignment 3
Part 4: Liberal Studies in action 6  
Part 5: Assessment in Liberal Studies 5 Assignment 4
Part 6: Managing the implementation of Liberal Studies 4 Assignment 5
Revision 2  
  36 5 assignments
Tutors and support

To supplement your study, there are 13 two-hour tutorials, one three-hour day school and two 'surgeries' throughout the year - all of which are face-to-face sessions. In addition, at the beginning of the semester, your Course Coordinator will run a face-to-face session to introduce the operation of all the online components and demonstrate how to work through this online course.

In the face-to-face tutorials and day schools, your tutor will answer your questions about any problems you might face during self-study and hold other activities, such as small-group discussions, to facilitate your learning. 'Surgeries' are sessions in which you can consult a tutor individually. In addition to these face-to-face sessions, you can also make use of the online Discussion Board to raise questions, and discuss issues with your tutors, other students and your Course Coordinator. You can also have telephone tutorials with your tutor.

As soon as your tutorial group is confirmed, we will give you the name and phone number of your tutor and notify you of the dates, times and location of the face-to-face sessions. To help you to participate actively in these sessions, you are provided with a Tutorial and Day School Manual which:

  • indicates what you should prepare for each session; and
  • suggests some activities and questions for discussion.

You are strongly recommended to go through this Manual before each tutorial or day school. All the face-to-face sessions are optional, but attendance and active participation in them will enhance your learning.

In addition to supporting you through face-to-face sessions, online discussion and telephone tutoring, your tutor marks and comments on your assignments, and keeps a close watch on your progress. When your assignments are returned, pay particular attention to the comments your tutor has written on the assignment form and the assignment.

Strategy for working though the course

The following is a recommended strategy for working through the course.

  1. Organize a study schedule. Refer to the section 'Course organizer' in this Course Guide and to the Study Schedule provided by your Course Coordinator. Note the time suggested for you to spend on each Part and how the assignments relate to the Parts. You will receive a schedule of your face-to-face sessions by email attachment.

    Once you have decided on your own study schedule, do everything you can to stick to it. The major reason students fail is that they fall behind with their course work. If you get into difficulties with your schedule, please let your tutor know before it is too late to help you.

  2. Work on the course by reading through the learning material in the OLE. Parts of the online learning material include videos, with the course writers explaining some concepts/ideas. If you are concerned about losing track of the main structure of a Part, you can refer to the printed Study Guide now and then. However, you should not just read the printed Study Guide as it does not contain the whole course.

  3. When you come to online activities, you should follow the instructions for completing them. Some of these activities require you to read an article or book chapter which you will find in the Readings in your printed course material. At other times, an activity asks you to answer some questions or pose your views on the OLE Discussion Board, and again completing these tasks will help you to learn more effectively.

  4. After activities, there are usually some comments or further explanations which you can read by clicking the relevant links. As noted earlier, these are not included in the printed material, but the words 'Comment' and 'Further explanation' are underlined in the relevant parts of the Study Guide to remind you to read these pop-up pages.

  5. There are also some optional readings which you can access by clicking the relevant links in the OLE. Although these readings are not compulsory, they are useful resources for developing a deeper understanding of some topics. You are advised to go through them whenever possible, as they will enhance your learning and may help you in doing your assignments.

Course assessment

EDU E880 includes two components for assessment: assignments, which form the continuous assessment, and a final examination.


There are five assignments for the continuous assessment. All assignments will be counted and will contribute 60% to your final course result. You should read the Assignment File for details.


The examination for EDU E880 will last for three hours and will contribute 40% to the total course result.

To pass the course, you must pass both the continuous assessment (assignments) and the end-of-course examination.


We hope that by studying EDU E880 Learning and Teaching Liberal Studies you will develop a good understanding of the theoretical and practical aspects of the curriculum design of Liberal Studies and the teaching and learning approaches it advocates -- and develop confidence in becoming an effective Liberal Studies teacher.

We wish you every success in the course.