College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
Public Policy Undergraduates Help Secondary School Students Develop Research Skills

Liberal Studies is one of the four core subjects under the New Senior Secondary Curriculum of Hong Kong. In addition to the public written examination, the assessment of this subject also comprises an Independent Enquiry Study (IES) which counts 20 percent of the final result. Secondary school students are required to choose an issue and complete an enquiry in three stages, namely project proposal, data collection and product.

With adequate guidance, the experience of integrating and applying knowledge through IES can help cultivate secondary school students’ skills for lifelong learning like collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, information technology, numeracy, problem-solving, self-management and study. However, a 2019 study shows IES is a source of stress for students as they lack the techniques in conducting their own research. On the other hand, many teachers also reflected that the teaching time in class is insufficient to complete the comprehensive syllabus, let alone to cover the research skills needed for IES.

Photo 2: Identifying a topic that is worthy of investigation is key to success of the enquiry.

To cultivate students’ interest in evidence-based research and support schools in enhancing students’ research, analytical and presentation skills, the Department of Public Policy (POL) of CityU has been running the Hong Kong School-Based Research Project Program for Senior Secondary School Students. Form 4 to 6 students from each participating school would attend three training workshops, which introduce essential research techniques such as setting topics and focussing questions, utilising different methodologies including secondary data analysis, observation, interview and survey, to the final stage of analysing data and reporting the findings. Individual consultation for students may also be arranged if needed. 

The workshops are conducted by POL undergraduates. Not only are they familiar with DSE Liberal Studies examination requirements and have experience in doing an IES project themselves, taking up the coaching role also enhances their own research and presentation skills. Furthermore, schools would get to know more about the Department’s students during the training sessions.

Schools interested in arranging IES workshops with POL may reach the department by email at or by fax at 3442 0413. The workshops are conducted at the participating schools and subject to the department’s availability.

Cover photo: Learning the various steps of conducting a research lays the foundation for the IES project.