A common term for holistic education is Whole Person Education (WPE). Yet, the concepts of WPE are usually expressed differently between the East and the West. In the East, influenced by the teachings of Confucius, WPE is usually expressed in the five elements of spiritual, intellectual, physical, social, and aesthetic (德、智、體、群、美; Cai, 1912). While in the West, WPE aims to help students define themselves by identifying the values that are most important to them as individuals and how these relate to society at large (King, 1947; Buford, 1995).
Amidst differences in cultures, environments, and goals, there seems to be an agreement amongst universities around the world that graduates of the 21st Century must be educated as Whole Persons willing to serve our societies as global citizens. Hence, the notion of providing a holistic education or WPE to students is strongly embraced by universities. WPE also has to evolve with time, so that our graduates can serve their contemporary societies well. For example, with the advances of information technology, WPE has to upgrade to another level: our graduates must possess the expertise to identify workable openings, including advancing technologies, and seize them to benefit humanity.
In 2005, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Peoples’ Republic of China embarked on a “once in a generation” reform, the “3-3-4 Education Reform” (Education Commission, 2000; Education & Manpower Bureau, 2005) to align the secondary and tertiary curricula to most regions around the world. At the tertiary level, the original 3-year degree programme was transformed into a 4-year one, incorporating the outcomes-based teaching and learning (OBTL) principle (Biggs & Tang, 2011) into the design of a new curriculum to provide a learning-centred educational experience for future generations of professionals and leaders of our society. In 2016, the first cohort of 4-year degree students graduated from the new tertiary curriculum; with the expectation that they have become engaged learners equipped to continue active learning for sustainable employability and contribute positively to the global society.
At Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), the WPE ethos has been the education focus since its inception in 1956. Today, WPE still underpins HKBU’s goal to become a leading research-led liberal arts university, with graduates that are culturally sensitive, globally able, innovative and creative. To us at HKBU, WPE cannot be just a slogan; in line with the OBTL approach, the University has operationalized WPE into Graduate Attributes (GAs) that we expect all our graduates to attain after completing their studies at HKBU. Hence evidence showing how well students have achieved the learning outcomes has to be collected and reviewed, and then fed back into curriculum design and delivery to continue enhancing student learning. HKBU is consolidating its efforts on the data/evidence collection mechanisms on both academic and co-curricular learning activities into a holistic outcomes assessment endeavour.
This plenary presentation will share the developments and experiences of HKBU on how we have organised both our curriculum and co-curricular activities to re-focus efforts in line with the learning-centred paradigm for a holistic education. We will highlight the discussion from the perspectives of assessment, including the framework and tools deployed to assist in our process of evidence collection for outcomes assessment.