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Four Key Tasks – Achieving Learning to Learn
3C Project Learning
This is one of the chapters of the Basic Education Curriculum Guide - To Sustain, Deepen and Focus on Learning to Learn (Primary 1 - 6). Its contents are as follows:
3.1 Background
3.2 Purposes of the Chapter
3.3 Project Learning as a Strategy to Promote Student Learning
  3.3.1 Essential Qualities of Project Learning
  3.3.2 Project Learning and Subject Knowledge Learning
  3.3.3 Enhancing Students’ Learning Capabilities through Project Learning
3.4 Planning of Project Learning in the Whole-school Curriculum
  3.4.1 Principles of Planning
  3.4.2 Facilitating Factors for Project Learning
  3.4.3 Modes of Project Learning
3.5 Project Learning in Practice
  3.5.1 The Three Stages of Project Learning
  3.5.2 Points to Note in the Implementation of Project Learning
  3.5.3 Assessment in Project Learning
3.6 Support for Schools
3.1 Background
With the deepening of the curriculum reform, schools’ implementation of the Four Keys Tasks has been increasingly effective. Under the impact of the curriculum reform and the paradigm shift, Project Learning is no longer about teachers merely guiding students to collect data and students’ reports are no longer scrapbooks of “cut and paste” work. In contrast to the past, teachers’ knowledge and capability in guiding students to explore different topics have improved. Most teachers are now able to use exploratory questions as a start and guide students to investigate different topics while taking into consideration students’ prior knowledge, age and intellectual development. Project Learning is now a common and essential learning experience for primary students. Investigation activities not only help students increase their knowledge and enhance their learning capabilities, but also arouse their curiosity, increase their intrinsic motivation for learning, and above all, nurture a positive attitude towards learning.
Project Learning can be practised in different modes. There are projects for individual subjects, cross-subject projects and trans-disciplinary projects. Project learning is often practised in General Studies. Schools have accumulated considerable experience in conducting Project Learning and they are keen to share them with other schools. This Chapter aims to review the progress of implementing Project Learning in schools and make suggestions to schools on how to build on their existing strengths to further promote Project Learning so as to help students advance towards the goal of self-directed learning.
3.2 Purposes of the Chapter
* Review the progress of the implementation of Project Learning in schools
* Explain the strategies and planning for Project Learning
* Consolidate the findings on the effective implementation of Project Learning
* Assist schools to reflect on their effectiveness in promoting Project Learning and provide suggestions for future development
3.3 Project Learning as a Strategy to Promote Student Learning
3.3.1 Essential Qualities of Project Learning
* Project Learning is an effective learning and teaching strategy which helps promote self-directed learning as well as self-reflection among students.
* Project Learning usually starts with a challenging question or a problem and involves students working in groups or as individuals over a period of time to plan, read and make decisions on a specific topic.
* Project Learning enables students to construct knowledge, develop their generic skills as well as establish positive values and attitudes. It helps them connect knowledge, skills, values and attitudes through a variety of activities. These activities often involve other Key Tasks, for example, Reading to Learn and Information Technology for Interactive Learning, and at the same time are conducive to students’ development of moral and civic values.
* In Project Learning, the learning process and the learning outcomes are of equal importance.
3.3.2 Project Learning and Subject Knowledge Learning
* Project Learning and the learning and teaching of subject knowledge complement each other and enable students to learn more effectively. Project Learning provides an alternative learning experience to the learning of subject knowledge and creates space for students to engage in self-directed learning.
* KLA/subject curricula are usually organised according to themes, topics or learning contents for delivery. Project Learning generally takes place in the context of different KLAs. It has no prescribed content and the stages of development may not follow a fixed sequence. Schools may take into consideration their school contexts and the abilities and needs of their students in its implementation to ensure that the learning experiences available to students are rich and authentic.
* In Project Learning, students can gain access to a variety of learning materials which help enrich their subject learning.
3.3.3 Enhancing Students’ Learning Capabilities through Project Learning
* Project Learning is a good vehicle for facilitating the development of generic skills: collaboration skills, communication skills, creativity, critical thinking skills, information technology skills, numeracy skills, problem-solving skills, self-management skills and study skills.
* Project Learning categorically helps develop students in three areas: problem management, information management and personal management. They are summarised in Table 3.1 below.
  Table 3.1 Three Main Areas Promoted by Project Learning
Area Description
Problem Management Project Learning usually starts with a question and a problem. Students have to understand and comprehend the problem from different perspectives and explore different ways to approach the question or problem to develop their creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Information Management Project Learning requires students to acquire, organise, and present information through different means and modes to develop their numeracy skills, information technology skills and study skills.
Self-management roject Learning requires students to plan and manage their work to develop their collaboration skills, communication skills and self-management skills..
* Schools have made good efforts to develop students’ creativity, critical thinking and communication skills. For future development in Project Learning, teachers might provide their students with more opportunities to develop collaboration and self-management skills to motivate them for self-directed learning.
* When students are promoted to secondary schools, they will also be engaged in Project Learning in different KLAs. The generic skills acquired and developed at the primary level will help them adapt to the studies at the junior secondary level.
3.4 Planning of Project Learning in the Whole-school Curriculum
3.4.1 Principles of Planning
* The planning of Project Learning should tie in with the school contexts including the school background, major concerns of the school, students’ abilities and interests, available resources.
* The objectives of Project Learning should be clearly spelled out, for example, setting the learning outcomes to be achieved by students through Project Learning.
* There should be good coordination among different KLAs to decide whether it is feasible to conduct cross-subject or trans-disciplinary projects.
* The time frame and duration of implementing Project Learning should be compatible with the whole-school curriculum.
* Consideration should be given to the interface between various key stages of learning in the design of project work. For example, teachers teaching at the lower primary level can observe how Project Learning is conducted with kindergarten students, or schools can design a framework for the progressive development of students’ generic skills.
* If applicable, schools can engage stakeholders such as parents, community members to participate in Project Learning.
* As the learning process and learning outcomes of Project Learning are of equal importance, it is advisable to employ a variety of assessment strategies.
For Reflection and Action For Reflection and Action
* When planning for Project Learning, which of the above-mentioned principles have been taken into account by your school?
* Based on your school’s context, in what ways can the design of Project Learning be more effective?
3.4.2 Facilitating Factors for Project Learning
* The leadership and overall planning of the Primary School Curriculum Leaders are helpful in co-ordinating Project Learning across different KLAs. Good co-ordination also helps reduce wastage of resources, relieve the pressure upon teachers and students, and increase the effectiveness of Project Learning.
* The stakeholders concerned fully understand the goals and strategies of Project Learning. They have a positive attitude towards Project Learning.
* The school administration gives appropriate support to Project Learning, for example, providing professional development programmes for teachers and arranging life-wide learning activities.
* Specific time slots should be reserved for Project Learning where possible, for example, reserving time slots for Project Learning when drawing up the school calendar and timetable. Arranging flexible learning time is also conducive to the smooth implementation of Project Learning.
* Creating an atmosphere of active learning, for example, allowing students to decide for themselves the sub-topics, the methodologies and the ways to present their findings can help strengthen students’ ownership of learning and increase their incentive to self-directed learning. Teachers should be facilitators of learning and offer guidance and support during the process.
* Community resources, such as different museums, the Science Museum, the Space Museum or the Museum of Arts can be employed to complement Project Learning and provide opportunities for life-wide learning for students. (For details, you may refer to Chapter 6 “Life-wide Learning” in this series).
3.4.3 Modes of Project Learning
In the implementation of Project Learning, schools should choose a mode best suited to their context. Some modes of Project Learning are listed in Table 3.2 for reference.
Table 3.2 Modes of Project Learning
Modes of Project
Projects for individual subjects
Projects for individual subjects
(Teacher Approach)
* Project Learning is adopted in individual Key Learn Areas/subjects.
* Curriculum time for Project Learning is created through adapting or taking away part of the curriculum content by individual subject teachers.
* Primary School Curriculum Leaders coordinate among different subjects to avoid too many projects in different subjects being set during the same period of time.
Cross-subject projects
Cross-subject projects
(Integrated Team Approach)
* Two or more subjects are involved.
* Curriculum leaders develop plans for students from different classes or levels to engage in project work in different subjects at a specific period of time.
* Based on the topics of study, subject teachers guide their students to explore the topics from various perspectives.
* Curriculum time for Project Learning is contributed by the subjects involved. Teachers may need to rearrange the time-table to facilitate inter-disciplinary activities.
Trans-disciplinary projects
Model A: Teacher-centred
Model A: Teacher-centred
Model B: Student-centred
Model B: Student-centred
(Whole-school Approach)
* The boundaries of subjects are crossed. Students explore the topics in small groups.
* Two models:
  Model A: Project Learning starts with study areas that are proposed by teachers. Students then form groups and select the sub-topics they are interested in.
  Model B: Students form groups themselves and propose the project titles they are interested in. Teacher advisors are assigned to each group.
* Curriculum leaders should appropriately assign teacher advisors to each group. Too many groups being assigned to a particular teacher advisor should be avoided.
* Curriculum time for Project Learning is set aside in the whole school time-table.
3.5 Project Learning in Practice
3.5.1 The Three Stages of Project Learning
There are three stages in conducting Project Learning: the Preparation Stage, Implementation Stage and Concluding Stage.
(1) Preparation Stage - Idea Initiation
* To give students ownership of their projects, the first task of the teachers is to set clear learning goals and focuses with students and to motivate them to do their projects.
* Teachers may arrange various activities, such as talks by experts, discussions on an issue, site visits, mind-mapping, to arouse students’ concern about and enhance their understanding of a topic. Teachers may then encourage students to participate in discussions actively and guide them to formulate researchable and challenging questions.
Downward Arrow
Downward Arrow
(2) Implementation Stage - Enquiry Process
* Students collect various types of necessary information through different channels to build up their knowledge of the topic.
* Teachers should help students develop the skill of information processing, including the collection, review and selection of information.
* In the process, teachers may gradually give less guidance to students and encourage them to become more independent.
(3) Concluding Stage - Knowledge Building
* Apart from analysing and consolidating the information, students have to come to a conclusion and reflect on the whole project.
* Finally, they have to present, share and reflect on the outcome of the project. This may be done in a variety of forms such as written reports, oral presentations, exhibitions, models, web-pages, seminars, etc.
3.5.2 Points to Note in the Implementation of Project Learning
* Schools should provide clearly defined learning objectives and guidance to students throughout the learning process.
* Both individual and group Project Learning are beneficial to students. Individual Project Learning provides opportunities for students to learn independently while group Project Learning facilitates the development of collaboration and communications skills. Schools can apply one of these learning modes for Project Learning at different year levels. Group Project Learning can be introduced at the lower primary level and it has been a common learning strategy even with students at the pre-primary level.
* With more experience gained by students in Project Learning, schools could go further to develop students’ capabilities in and habit of self-directed learning by giving them more autonomy in learning.
* Better coordination is needed among teachers of different KLAs/subjects to avoid too many subject projects being assigned at the same time. Thus the workload for both students and teachers is reduced.
* Cross KLAs/subjects Project Learning is encouraged, for example, once a year, to connect knowledge of different disciplines and avoid overlapping that affects learning.
* Schools are advised to plan and use their learning time flexibly, for example, arranging a Project Learning Week or a common Project Learning period to allow students of all classes and levels to participate in related learning or sharing activities.
* Schools are advised to co-ordinate the allocation of assignments so that students are not assigned different projects in a short period of time.
* Equal importance should be attached to the learning process and the learning outcomes. In this connection, in the design of assignments and assessments, consideration should not only be given to “what to learn” but “how to learn” as well.
* The focus and content of individual projects or group projects may vary. It is therefore not necessary to require students to submit a standardised product. Projects with different findings or answers are acceptable.
* Information technology should be effectively used to facilitate Project Learning. Apart from mastering information technology tools, students should also comply with the rules and regulations in using information, for example, giving due respect to privacy and intellectual property rights. For details on using Information Technology for Interactive Learning, please refer to Chapter 3D “Information Technology for Interactive Learning” and the Education Bureau website “Application of Information Technology- Project Learning”.
The Education Bureau website “Application of Information Technology - Project Learning” can be accessed at:
* Parents’ recognition and cooperation can facilitate the smooth implementation of Project Learning. Schools should explain to parents the purpose of Project Learning so that they understand the role they can play in Project Learning. For example, parents can observe their children’s progress and performance at home and provide guidance when necessary. They should, however, avoid being too enthusiastic and complete the assignment for their children or spending excessively on the production of a fancy project report. Schools can invite parents to present awards in activities where appropriate.
For Reflection and Action For Reflection and Action
* Which mode of Project Learning is implemented in your school? How can the co-ordination among subjects be improved?
* How can the learning time be arranged and utilised to enhance the effectiveness of Project Learning?
* How can opportunities be increased for students to engage in Project Learning in groups?
* How can students be guided to engage in self-directed learning more effectively?
* How can parents’ role in Project Learning be strengthened to further enhance the effectiveness of Project Learning?
3.5.3 Assessment in Project Learning
* Since the process and outcomes of Project Learning are equally important, schools are therefore advised to gauge students’ overall progress through formative as well as summative assessments instead of focusing only on the reports or deliverables submitted.
* Instead of only awarding a grade or mark on a project upon its completion, teachers should observe the students’ performance and provide them with timely feedback during the learning process. Students can understand how they learn and how they can improve their learning through “Assessment as Learning” which is also conducive to the development of self-directed learning skills.
* Assessment should not be confined to knowledge. Students’ skills values and attitudes should also be assessed.
* Assessment that involves different stakeholders can gauge the performance of students in Project Learning in a more holistic manner. Peer assessment and self assessment have now become an integral part of learning and teaching. Where appropriate, parents can be involved in the assessment so that they can understand the learning of their children at home, and gain a better understanding of their children’s learning progress.
* Where conditions such as the school setting and student ability are considered suitable, online tools can be employed to facilitate assessment of Project Learning. Students can share with their peers what they have learnt or submit assignments to teachers through the online platform, and their teachers can provide timely feedback to help students improve their learning.
(You may refer to Chapter 5 “Assessment” of this series to learn more about how to conduct “Assessment for Learning” and “Assessment as Learning”.)
3.6 Support for Schools
In order to help schools implement Project Learning more effectively, the Education Bureau has provided a wide range of learning and teaching resources. For example, the General Studies Teaching Resources Depository has provided various exemplars and web links on Project Learning.
The “Depository of Curriculum-based Learning and Teaching Resources - General Studies” is available at:
* Professional development programmes, including seminars, workshops and sharing sessions are organised for curriculum leaders and teachers on a regular basis to explore ways to facilitate the implementation of Project Learning, for example, using online Project Learning tools.
* Good practices from the “Seed” Projects and the Quality Education Fund projects are consolidated and disseminated for schools’ reference and use.
* Various channels, such as Quality Education Fund and the School-based Support Services are available to help schools create learning communities, encourage sharing of successful experience and put ideas into practice in learning and teaching.
The following references are by no means exhaustive and listed for reference only.
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香港大學教育學院現龍發展組:現龍第3代-專題研習 網上平台