Research proposal: Effect of tutorial advertisements on students to attend tutorial schools in Hong Kong

(I) Proposed Title

Effect of tutorial advertisements on students to attend tutorial schools in Hong Kong

(II) Introduction

As we all know that there is a booming of tutorial schools in Hong Kong in recent years, and it became a hot topic in Hong Kong. According to the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong (Associated Press, 2007), there is ‘a third of secondary school students went for private tutoring in the 2004-05 school year, spending a total of HK$18.9 million a month which is 25 percent more than five years earlier’. In order to deal with the examinations, attending tutorial schools becomes a new trend among Hong Kong students as it provide materials and tips on the public examinations. To satisfy their needs and demands, there are a large numbers of tutorial schools opened in Hong Kong.

As a result, to increase their competitiveness and attract more students, there is an increase in the market of advertisements of tutorial schools. A great number of tutorial advertisements were posed in the streets, televisions, internet and magazines, and even started advertising with MTR and bus advertising.

However, many advertisements contained false, exaggerated or misrepresented statements. They boast they have the largest number of students with Grades A, B and C, and claim that they can guarantee students to obtain excellent results such as obtain Grade A or a higher grade in public examinations.

Therefore, it is interesting to find out whether advertisements of tutorial schools are a factor or reason for Hong Kong secondary school students to attend tutorial classes, and why students would trust the advertisements and how do they influenced by the advertisements. It is worth doing to the society as it tries to identify and indicate the importance of the effect of tutorial advertisements and then raises the public to concern about the advertisements that contains information which is false or misleading and requests for rectification. The independent variable of this experiment would be the behavior of attending tutorial classes. The dependent variable of this experiment would be the existence of tutorial advertisements or not. In addition, this paper will target on the secondary school students, it is because this phenomenon is more common in secondary schools than that in primary schools.

There are few objectives of this project, they are as follows: Firstly, discover the existence of the effect of tutorial advertisements on students to make decision. Secondly, identify the nature and extent of the effectiveness of advertisements. Thirdly, explore and analyze the reasons that make students go to tutorial schools, which is to analyze their consumer behavior. Finally, distinguish or discern the reasons they affected by the advertisements, to find out whether it is related to their grades or area they study, and the implications of it.

Hence, the following research hypotheses will be investigated in my study:

‘ Hypothesis 1: Tutorial advertisements would be a cause of attending tutorial classes.
‘ Hypothesis 2: Effect of tutorial advertisements for Form 4 to Form 6 students would be greater than that for Form 1 to Form 3 students.
‘ Hypothesis 3: Effect of tutorial advertisements for urban district students would be greater than that for sub-urban district students.

In order to research hypothesis 2, the project will compare the effects and results between junior secondary level (Form 1 to Form 3) and senior secondary level (Form 4 to Form 6). In order to research hypothesis 3, it will compare the different between the students study in urban districts and sub-urban districts in Hong Kong in order to make the study more interesting. Due to the limitations, one for each type of district will be chose. Hence, Mong Kok and Tin Shui Wai are chose for urban district and sub-urban district respectively. In addition, as the rural districts in Hong Kong is less, the study chose to compare the different between urban district and sub-urban district but not different between urban district and rural district.

(III) Literature reviews

A research conducted in 2007 by Professor Bray from Hong Kong University showed that the phenomenon of tutoring can be found in many parts of the world, especially in Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. And this geographic spread is mainly affected by cultural, educational and economic factors. Salili (1996) also mentioned that many Asian cultures influenced by Confucian traditions strongly emphasis on effort as a factor to be success but European and North-American cultures are emphasis on ability more. That is why tutoring phenomenon is more likely to spread in Asian cultures. The situations of some countries, such as Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia, are similar to the situation of Hong Kong and they will be used for references and examples in this study.

As mentioned before, secondary school students in Hong Kong will be my target groups because the condition of receiving tutoring among them is more common than that among primary school students. Professor Bray’s research (2007) had shown that after investigated about 700 primary and secondary school students in Hong Kong, there were nearly 50 percent of primary and lower secondary students receive tutoring while at upper secondary the proportion students receiving tutoring is about 70 percent, while about 72 percent of the final-year school students receiving tutoring. Furthermore, from the result of an investigation done by the Hong Kong Census and Ststistics Department, about 80 percent of students above Form 4, which is about 110,000 students, take tutorial schools, and parents spend HK$3oo millions in tutoring for their children. These show that students have greater demand of receiving tutoring at the secondary level than at the primary level of schooling. The research also mentioned that the lower secondary students were less dominated by public examinations than the upper secondary students where the public examinations form as watershed dividing students who can continue study in universities or not. As pressure increases, the demand for tutoring grows accordingly.

Besides, Kwok’s research (2004) also mentioned that there are mainly three types of tutoring, they are individual (one-to-one tutoring), group (2 to 8 tutees in a group) and mass (more than 8 tutees in a class). Their geographical locations can be ‘in tutees’ or tutors’ residential areas, day-time school campus or even in commercial buildings’. In Hong Kong, some tutoring even established private colleges exclusively for students who failed in the examinations to continuous their secondary education, such as Beacon College (””).

A research conduct by Bray’s (2007) pointed out that some tutorial centres ‘offer prizes for academic success, and expand their markets by advertising through leaflets, posters, newspapers, magazines, cinemas and television. In most settings, however, recommendations operate more effectively than formal advertising. In addition, the amount of advertisements of large scale tutoring is the most which is more than that of small scale and individual tutoring’. The increasing number of registered mass tutorial schools and the heavy advertisements of various types of tutoring in the popular public areas, streets and through mass media also reflects the massive scale of tutoring in Hong Kong, and the supply of private tutoring is more likely as a commercial commodity (Lee, 1996; Tseng 1998). Moreover, a Malaysian research conducted by Chew and Leong (1995) indicated that about 70 percent of respondents selected tutors followed the recommendations of their friends while 14 percent of respondents selected tutors in response to advertisements. 12 percent of them selected tutors through their teachers. This result proved that the tutorial advertisements can be one of the factors to affect students whether receive tutoring or not.

Bray’s research (2007) also investigated that tutoring is more common in urban areas than in rural areas as there was about 60 percent of students received tutoring while only 9 percent among rural areas. It also pointed out that this urban bias has also been reported in other countries like Taiwan, Malaysia, Greece, Egypt and China.

As the tutorial schools and tutors have to respond to market needs in order to earn more money and enlarge their markets, they usually make effort to find out what students want and then respond to it. So it can be expected that the tutorial schools or centres would invest more in advertisements to increase their attractiveness of students above Form 4 and students in urban districts in Hong Kong.

Noteworthy, although there are many previous researches about private tutoring in Hong Kong, effect of tutorial advertisements for students have not yet been investigated in their studies. Most of the past researches like Lee’s (1996), Tseng’s (1998) and Tong’s (2001) focused on studying the issue about span and supply or demand of private tutoring. Some like Tsang’s (1993) and Wong’s (1997) studies were focused on government and educational policies. Others like Cheng’s (1992), Yiu’s (1996), Wong’s (1992) and Post’s (1994) researches were more likely to study the significance and achievement of private tutoring and influence of social classes and families. They neglected possible effects of tutoring on social classes, students and families. They also neglected the effect of mass media like advertisement on students’ behavior in educational aspect.

(IV) Methodology

In order to test the hypothesis and examine the research question of the study, the following methodologies will be performed and used. Besides, both original and secondary data will be used and both qualitative and quantitative data will be collected.

Secondary Analysis:

Analysis of both official and unofficial statistics will be undertaken in order to gain a fuller picture of the situation. The sources that I would use include archives, newspaper, magazine articles and journal. I will try to choose the sources which are more objective, validity, reliability and generalizability.

Individual Interviews:

In the proposal, individual interviews will be conducted for a part of qualitative research in which the respondents will be interviewed with face-to-face format. Due to the limitations, the respondents would be some secondary students from all grades (Form 1 to Form 6) in two secondary schools which are located in Mong Kok and Tin Shui Wai respectively, and 5 students per each grade would be randomly selected in each selected secondary school. Estimated 60 samples will be collected. A list of questions will be asked, such as ‘How is that’?, ‘In what way’?, ‘How do you mean that’?, ‘What would be an example of that’?, etc.


Quantitative method will also be adopted for this project. Due to the limitations, non-random sampling will be used in this study. Purposive sampling and snowball sampling will be used respectively. In the purposive sampling, it will select the cases that students have been attended tutorial schools before. As the cases are hard to identify and the objective of the study cannot accurately describe the characteristics of the population, snowball sampling is also chose to select the sampling.

There are totally 18 districts and 519 secondary schools in Hong Kong. Due to the limitations, two districts, which are Mong Kok and Tin Shui Wai, will be selected in order to research hypothesis 3. And one secondary school in each district will be selected. It is planned to select 100 students who are studying in each selected secondary school in Hong Kong. A questionnaire would be designed and issued to the students through the internet or email since it was convenient to set up questionnaires on net. Assume that the response rate is 20 percent and estimated 1000 questionnaires should be issued.

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