The Journal of Applied Research in Education (JARE)




Rethinking curriculum for the 21st Century in Asia

Education reform efforts worldwide have been focused on developing students’ 21st century competencies such as critical and creative thinking, effective communication and learning how to learn. Education policymakers in Asia are becoming aware that the one-size-fits-all curriculum and teaching and learning practices have to be transformed to meet students’ diverse learning needs and ensure equity, mobility and social justice.  These policymakers are working closely with school leaders, teachers and universities to co-develop the curriculum and assessment, and explore new pedagogies for implementation in technology-enhanced learning environments.  This special issue aims to document some of these promising practices and lessons learned.  The articles in this special issue were first presented at the Global Curriculum and Instruction Network (GCIN) Conference 2014 (http://home.ied.edu.hk/~gcin) that was held in Hong Kong on 19-20 June 2014.

This special issue comprises of five articles that suggest alternative strategies for curriculum, assessment and instructional design.  They also intend to engage readers in critical dialogues of what curriculum reforms mean and entail.  The first article, Half a century of English language assessment in Hong Kong, provides a critical reflection of the author’s 35-year personal association with the English language assessment situation in Hong Kong and his analysis of the 50-year journey that has been undertaken by English Language assessment against the backdrop of socio-political transformations. This article moves through assessment in Hong Kong one decade at a time, with the author’s personal experiences framed as appropriate against a relevant key test quality concept.

The second article, Understanding the role of a Head of Department of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Singapore, adopts a case study approach to examine the roles of a Head of Department of Information and Communication Technology in a primary school in Singapore.  The author identifies and explains the multiple roles of a Head of Department as curriculum planning, leadership and management, and highlights the challenges for successful school ICT in education development.  This article provides strong evidence for the Ministry of Education in Singapore to develop the professional role of an ICT Head of Department for effective human resource management.

Based on a mixed-method approach, the third article Rethinking the impacts of teacher education program on building the ICT in education competencies of pre-service teachers: A case of teacher education in Mainland China examines the development of ICT in education competencies of pre-service teachers in two teacher education programs at a Normal University in South China.  With the integration of substantive ICT in education elements into one of the programs, the findings suggest that the transformation of the teacher education program has positive impacts on the ICT in education competencies of the pre-service teachers.  This article reaffirms the continuous effort to enhance the quality of teacher education programs and suggests how student feedback and reflections may support such quality enhancement.

The fourth article, Exploring the connection between out-of-class language learning strategies and in-class activities, through interviewing nine international students and three lecturers/ language instructors in a Malaysia university, explores how out-of-class language learning strategies (OCLLSs) could support and be supported by formal language in-class activities.  It is found that the formative nature of OCLLSs assessments is the key feature that makes it an impetus to language learning.  This article shows how the employment of OCLLSs may expedite language attainment and enable students to learn English language more effectively.

The fifth article, Teaching writing in preschool classroom, examines the strategies of teaching writing of 65 preschool teachers in the Selangor State in Malaysia.  Based on the analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, the findings suggest that apart from copying, drills, and questions, the teachers in the study have no innovative approach to teaching writing; also, they have been limited by the need to teach reading.  With the different teaching needs and the possibility of an imbalance in the level of preschool students’ language literacy, this article recommends an interactive writing approach that is appropriate for preschool children development in writing.

Education is at a time of change and this special issue embraces this change by showcasing reforms in curriculum, assessment and teaching and learning practices in major cities in Asia. The five articles will bring positive impacts to the academic communities and will benefit school development and student learning for the new era. (Written by Guest Editor, Professor Lim, Cher Ping)



The JARE2015 editorial team invited the fellow researchers from the Hong Kong Institute of Education and Azusa Pacific University to join us for this special issue: Rethinking curriculum for the 21st Century in Asia.  The team and our institution, the Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Education, Universiti Brunei Darussalam are very pleased to have Professor Cher Ping Lim as Guest Editor for the JARE2015 and Dr. Hui King Fai Sammy from HKIE and Dr. Mak Chun Nam Bernie from Azusa Pacific University who served as Chief Editor and Associate Editor respectively.

Dr. Cher Ping Lim is a professor at the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIE), Hong Kong, China.  Prior to his professorship in HKIE, Dr. Lim was a professor at The Edith Cowan University, Australia until July 2010, and an associate professor at the National Institute of Education, Singapore until July 2006.  He is an outstanding researcher and teacher in the field of educational technology, especially on application of information and communication technology in education into curriculum, teaching and learning.   Professor Lim is a prolific writer, presenter and speaker who has contributed to his field of educational technology.

Professor Lim has produced more than 70 referred articles and three books in addition to more than twenty book chapters.  Many of the publications have appeared in high impact journals in his field. Also he has been very active in international and national conferences, evidenced as his sixty presentations and serving as a keynote speaker in counties such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Mongolia, Philippine, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan.  His expertise, especially last few years has contributed extensively to conducting workshops and seminars and panels.  His contributions in this category can be observed in Australia, China, Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, USA and the ASEAN nations.   Further, Professor Lim has been involved in many projects under the affiliations of international organizations such as Asian Development Bank, UNESCO and World Bank, working in the ASEANs, China, Oman, Caribbean and the United Kingdom.  In addition, he has served as editors and editorial board members in ten different international and national research journals. 


Dr. Hui King Fai Sammy is an assistant professor of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, The Hong Kong Institute of Education.  His research areas are outcomes of learning and assessment.  Dr. Hui’s recent publications include “Cultural literacy: How hidden is it in the Hong Kong Professional and Vocational Education (PVE) curriculum?” and “Cultural literacy and student engagement: The case if Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Hong Kong” (in Journal of Further and Higher Education), and “Accountability and improvement: Lessons from studying Hong Kong teachers’ conceptions of assessment” (In Routledge book Asia’s high performing education systems: The case of Hong Kong).

Dr. Mak Chun Nam Bernie holds a PhD in English from The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and is now working as Research Manager at Azusa Pacific University, U.S.A. He has researched on the performance of jargon, expletives, humour, small talk, and code-switching in organizational talk and the construction of identity and power in the process. His published work has appeared in Text and Talk (De Gruyter Mouton), Discourse and Communication (Sage), International Journal of Applied Linguistics (John Wiley & Sons), Gender and Language (Equinox), Discourse, Context and Media (Elsevier), and Journal of Multicultural Discourses (Routledge).


The editorial group would like to express our appreciation to fellow lecturers, Emma C. Pearson, Glenn Hardaker and Dyg Norashikin binti Yusof who contributed to editorial work for this issue.