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Dr TAN, Cheng Yong

Dr TAN, Cheng Yong


International Associate, Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change, University of Glasgow
Associate Editor, Frontiers in Psychology
Advisory Committee Member, Academy for Leadership in Teacher Education
Management Committee Member, Centre for Advancement in Inclusive and Special Education
Specialism Coordinator, Master of Education Generalist Strand

Associate Professor, Faculty of Education

Research Leader

Associate Professor

Academic Unit of Social Contexts and Policies of Education


Ph.D (NTU), M.Ed. Mgt. (Hons) (UWA), B.B.A (Hons) (NUS), PGDE Pri (Distinction) (NTU), D.D.M. (NTU)


[javascript protected email address]


(852) 3917 4635


Room 519, Meng Wah Complex

Research Expertise

  • Educational Change, Leadership and Administration
  • Equity, Equality and Social Justice in Education
  • Organisational Leadership and Development
  • Parents and Family Issues in Education
  • Sociology and Philosophy of Education

Prospective PhD/ EdD/ MPhil Applications

​I am available to supervise PhD/EdD/MPhil students and would welcome enquiries for supervision.

My research program critically investigates issues on inequity in education involving cultural capital theory and socioeconomic reproduction. It examines the influence of familial and school factors on student learning, and how familial socioeconomic backgrounds moderate school effects on student learning. Familial factors I have examined include socioeconomic status, cultural capital, and parental involvement while school-level factors include education policies and school leadership and processes. In my research, I have employed both theoretical and empirical analyses. In particular, I employ a comprehensive suite of methodological approaches, including (a) multilevel modelling and latent class/profile analysis to examine international large-scale datasets such as those from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA); and (b) state-of-the-art three-level meta-analysis and meta-ethnography for integrative, systematic reviews of quantitative and qualitative studies respectively.

  1. Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award 2021 for project "Co-creating a new normal of empowered learning through digital citizenship research" (Co-investigator)
  2. My article "Conceptual diversity, moderators, and theoretical issues in quantitative studies of cultural capital theory" published in Educational Review in 2017 has been chosen as Article of the Year by the journal (watch video abstract).
  3. Visiting Fellowship, School of Education, University of Glasgow (University of Glasgow/University of Hong Kong Early Career Mobility Fund 2016-2017)
  4. University of Hong Kong Faculty of Education Early Career Outstanding Teaching Award 2016


External Grants Received and Projects Undertaken:

  1. 'eCitizen Education 360: An extension of the Learning and Assessment for Digital Citizenship project' D. H. Chen Foundation. HK$1,500,000. Principal Investigator (June 2022-June 2023) 
  2. 'eCitizen Education 360'  (Co-Principal Investigator) - project under auspices of Learning and assessment for digital citizenship (e-citizenship)Theme-based Research Scheme Project No. T44-707/16-N. HK$20,000,000. (2020-2022).
  3. Understanding the neural mechanisms of expert recognition of musical notation and Roman letters’ General Research Fund. HK$588,200. Co-Investigator (2020-2021).
  4. What is the contribution of school leadership to student learning? A thematic review and meta-analytic study’ General Research Fund. HK$262,212. Principal Investigator (2019-2020). Critical reflections
  5. What is the contribution of school leadership to student learning? A thematic review and meta-analytic study’ HKU General Research Fund Success Award 2018/2019. HK$20,000. Principal Investigator (2019-2020).
  6. 'Building capacity of Vietnam schools to implement fundamental and comprehensive reforms: Designing and piloting interventions through professional development' The Head Foundation. £120,000. International Collaborator (May 2017-October 2018).
  7. Fellowship at University of Glasgow. Glasgow/HKU Early Career Mobility Fund 2016-2017. HK$50,000 (2016-2017).
  8. An investigation of the impact of leadership practices on student learning and development outcomes in Singapore schools’ National Institute of Education Grant. SG$232,068. International Collaborator (2015-2017).


Internal Grants Received and Projects Undertaken:

  1. 'Family socioeconomic status and student learning motivation: Three-level meta-analysis of PISA data' HKU Education Faculty Research Fund. HK$59,869. Principal Investigator (2021-2022).
  2. What is habitus? Pursuing construct clarity through a meta-ethnographic review of qualitative studiesHKU Education Faculty Research Fund. HK$58,590. Principal Investigator (2020-2021).
  3. Why does school socioeconomic status matter? A meta-analytic study mapping out the relation between school socioeconomic status, familial and school resources, and student achievement’ HKU Education Faculty Research Fund. HK$59,985. Principal investigator (2019-2020).
  4. Do different students benefit equally from school principal leadership? A multilevel investigation of the PISA 2015 data’ HKU Education Faculty Research Fund. HK$30,000. Principal investigator (2017-2018).
  5. The contribution of cultural capital to students’ mathematics achievement: What matters most - Home educational resources, beaux arts appreciation, familiarity with evaluative standards, or transmission of values?'’ HKU Education Faculty Research Fund. HK$18,240. Principal investigator (2015-2016).
  6. What is the relationship between cultural capital and children’s learning outcomes? Interrogating the published data systematically using a meta-analytic approach’ HKU Seed Fund for Basic Research. HK$119,204. Principal investigator (2014-2015).

Key publications:

  1. Tan, C. Y. (2022). Influence of cultural values on Singapore school leadership. Educational Management Administration & Leadership. doi: 10.1177/17411432211073414
  2. Tan, C. Y., Dimmock, C., & Walker, A. (2021). How school leadership practices relate to student outcomes: Insights from a three-level meta-analysis. Educational Management Administration Leadership. doi: 10.1177/17411432211061445 (video)
  3. Tan, C. Y. (2020). Family cultural capital and student achievement: Theoretical insights from PISA. Singapore: Springer.
  4. Tan, C. Y., Peng, B., & Lyu, M. (2019). What types of cultural capital benefit students' academic achievement at different educational stages? Interrogating the meta-analytic evidence. Educational Research Review, 28. doi: 10.1016/j.edurev.2019.10028
  5. Tan, C. Y. (2018).Socioeconomic status, involvement practices, and student science achievement: Insights from a typology of home and school involvement patterns. American Educational Research Journal, 56(3), 899-924.


Cultural capital theory and social reproduction:

  1. Tan, C. Y., Pan, Q., Zhang, Y., Lan, M., & Law, N. (2022). Parental home monitoring and support and students' online learning and socioemotional well-being during COVID-19 school suspension in Hong Kong. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2022.916338
  2. Tan, C. Y. (2020). What PISA and ASPIRES studies tell us about the nuanced influences of cultural capital on student learning: Construct complexity, student outcomes and contexts. British Educational Research Journal. doi: 10.1002/berj.3635
  3. Tan, C. Y., Lyu, M., & Peng, B. (2019). Academic benefits from parental involvement are stratified by parental socioeconomic status: A meta-analysis.Parenting: Science and Practice, 20(4), 241-287. (Altmetric = 105)
  4. Tan, C. Y., & Hew, K. F. (2019). The impact of digital divides on student mathematics achievement in Confucian heritage cultures: A critical examination using PISA 2012 data. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 17, 1213-1232.
  5. Tan, C. Y. (2017). Conceptual diversity, moderators, and theoretical issues in quantitative studies of cultural capital theory.Educational Review, 69(5), 600-619. (watch video abstract)
  6. Tan, C. Y. (2017). Do parental attitudes toward and expectations for their children’s education and future jobs matter for their children’s school achievement?British Educational Research Journal, 43(6), 1111-1130.
  7. Tan, C.Y. (2017). Examining cultural capital and student achievement: Results of a meta-analytic review. Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 63(2), 139-159.
  8. Tan, C. Y., & Hew, K. F. (2017). Information technology, mathematics achievement, and educational equity in developed economies.Educational Studies, 43(4), 371-390.
  9. Tan, C. Y. & Liu, D. (2017). What is the influence of cultural capital on student reading achievement in Confucian as compared to non-Confucian heritage societies?Compare, 48(6), 896-914.
  10. Tan, C. Y. (2015). The contribution of cultural capital to students' mathematics achievement in medium and high socioeconomic gradient economies. British Educational Research Journal, 41(6), 1050-1067.
  11. Tan, C. Y. (2013). Theoretical discussion on forms of cultural capital in Singapore. Asia-Pacific Education Review, 14(2), 103-112. 


Educational leadership and policy:

  1. Tan, C. Y., Gao, L., & Shi, M. (2022). Second-order meta-analysis synthesizing the evidence on associations between school leadership and different school outcomes. Educational Management, Administration & Leadership, 50(3), 469-490.
  2. Tan, C. Y., Liu, P., & Wong, W. L. V. (2020). Different patterns of relationships between principal leadership and 15-year-old students' science learning: How school resources, teacher quality, and school socioeconomic status make a difference.Frontiers in Psychology - Educational Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02257 
  3. Tan,C. Y. & Dimmock, C. (2020).The relationships among between-class ability grouping, teaching practices, and mathematics achievement: A large-scale empirical analysis.Educational Studies. doi: 10.1080/03055698.2020.1780416
  4. Dimmock, C., Tan, C. Y., Nguyen, D., Tran, T. A., & Dinh, T. T. (2020). Implementing education system reform: Local adaptation in school reform of teaching and learning. International Journal of Educational Development, 80. doi: 10.1016/j.ijedudev.2020.102302
  5. Dimmock, C., Tan, C. Y., & Choing, C. (2021). Social, political and cultural foundations of educational leadership in Singapore. In R. Normand, L. Moos , M. Liu, & P. Tulowitzki (eds.), The cultural and social foundations of educational leadership: An international comparison (pp. 215-233). Springer. 
  6. Tan, C. Y. (2018). Examining school leadership effects on student achievement: The role of contextual challenges and constraints.Cambridge Journal of Education, 48(1), 21-45.
  7. Dimmock, C., & Tan, C. Y. (2016). Explaining the success of the world’s leading education systems: The case of Singapore. British Journal of Educational Studies, 64(2), 161-184.
  8. Dimmock, C., & Tan, C. Y. (2016). Re-conceptualizing learning-centred (instructional) leadership: An obsolete concept in need of renovation. Leading and Managing, 22(2), 1-17.
  9. Tan, C. Y., & Dimmock, C. (2015). Tensions between meritocracy and equity in Singapore: Educational issues in preparing a workforce for the knowledge-based economy (Working paper). Head Foundation: Singapore.
  10. Tan, C. Y. (2014). Influence of contextual challenges and constraints on learning-centered leadership.School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 25(3), 451-468.
  11. Tan, C. Y., & Dimmock, C. (2014). Examining how a “top-performing” Asian school system formulates and implements policy: The case of Singapore. Educational Management Administration & Leadership, 42(5), 743–763.
  12. Dimmock, C., & Tan, C. Y. (2013). Educational leadership in Singapore: Tight coupling, sustainability, scalability, and succession. Journal of Educational Administration, 51(3), 320-340.
  13. Tan, C. Y. (2012). Instructional leadership: toward a contextualized knowledge creation model.School Leadership and Management: Formerly School Organization, 32(2), 183-19



  1. Tan, C. Y. (2020). Book review for "Identity, equity and social justice in Asia Pacific education". SOJOURN: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 35(2), 403-405.
  2. Tan, C. Y., & Dimmock, C. (2018). National and transnational influences on school organization. In C. James, D. F. Eddy-Spicer, M. Connolly, & S. D. Kruse (Eds.), The Sage handbook of school organization (pp. 414-429). London: Sage.
  3. Hew, K. F., & Tan, C. Y. (2016). Predictors of information technology integration in secondary schools: Evidence from a large-scale study of more than 30,000 students. PLoS ONE, 11(12),e0168547. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0168547.
  4. Dimmock, C., Hairon, S., & Tan, C. Y. (2014). Curriculum, leadership and religion in Singapore schools: How a secular government engineers social harmony and the ‘state interest’. In Chapman, J. D., McNamara, S., Reiss, M. J., & Waghid, Y. (Eds.), The international handbook on learning, teaching and leading in faith-based schools (pp. 533-551). Dordrecht: Springer.
  5. Tan, C. Y. (2013). Organizational legitimacy of the Singapore Ministry of Education.Oxford Review of Education, 39(5), 590-608.
  6. Tan, C. Y. (2012). Understanding Asian parenting from a Rasch perspective.Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 15(4), 273-283.


Publications with Postgraduate Students:

  1. Shi, M., & Tan, C. Y. (2020). Parental autonomy-support, parental control, SES, and mathematics achievement: A latent profile analysis. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. doi: 10.1080/02568543.2020.1752336
  2. Shi, M., & Tan, C. Y. (2020). Beyond oral participation: A typology of student engagement in classroom discussions. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 55, 247-265.
  3. Fung, F., Tan, C. Y., & Chen, G. (2018). Student engagement and mathematics achievement: Unravelling main and interactive effects. Psychology in the Schools, 55(7), 815-831.
  4. Homer, R., Hew, K. F., & Tan, C. Y. (2018). Comparing digital badges-and-points with classroom token systems: Effects on elementary school ESL students' classroom behavior and English learning. Educational Technology & Society, 21(1), 137-151.


    Conference Papers:
    1. Tan, C. Y., Pan, Q., Zhang, Y., Lan, M., & Law, N. (2022). Socioeconomic status, parental involvement, and student outcomes during COVID-19 school suspension in Hong Kong. Paper presnted at AERA 2022 Annual Meeting, San Diego, California and Virtual, 21-26 April.
    2. Tan, C. Y., Pan, Q., Zhang, Y., Lan, L., Lam, P., & Law, N. (2021). Students' learning experiences during COVID-19 and familial SES. Paper presented at EARLI 2021, online, 23-27 August.
    3. Shi, M., & Tan, C. Y. (2019). Relationships between student engagement in classroom discussions and parenting style: A structural equation modelling approach. Paper presented at World Education Research Association 2019 Focal Meeting, Tokyo, 5-8  August.
    4. Dimmock, C., & Tan, C. Y. (2018). The leadership story behind Singapore school success: What PISA ignores. Paper presented at 31th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Singapore, 8-12 January.
    5. Tan, C. Y. (2017). The role of contextual challenges and constraints on the relationship between principal leadership and student achievement. Paper presented at 30th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Ottawa, Canada, 7-10 January.
    6. Tan, C. Y. (2017). Who benefits from studying in higher socioeconomic status schools? An examination of individual differences in science achievement in developed economies. Paper presented at 30th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Ottawa, Canada, 7-10 January.
    7. Dimmock, C., & Tan. C. Y. (2016). Do increased professionalism and school autonomy explain the success of the world's leading education systems? Multiple pathways - the case of Singapore. Paper presented at 29th International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement, Glasgow, Scotland, 6-9 January.
    8. Tan, C. Y. (2015). Unravelling the effects of cultural capital on students’ mathematics achievement in countries with different socioeconomic gradients: An international study using hierarchical linear modelling. Paper presented at British Educational Research Association Annual Conference 2015, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 15-17 September.
    9. Tan, C. Y., & Dimmock, C. (2015). Principals’ contribution to educational inequity: An analysis of the structure-agency relationship in the centrally controlled education system of Singapore. Paper presented at Asia Leadership Roundtable, Bangkok, 9-10 March.
    10. Goh, J. W. P., Salleh, H., & Tan, C. Y. (2014). Are Western school leadership theories applicable to non-Western societies? A Rasch analysis of work cultural values of Singapore principals. Paper presented at 2014 International Conference of the Asia Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA-HKERA 2014), Hong Kong, 19-21 November.

    Invited Lectures/Keynote Speeches and Lectures:

    1. HKU SCAPE research semianr "Meta-analysis" held online via Zoom, 17 March 2022.
    2. "Students' learning experiences during COVID-19 and familial SES" at the Digital Citizenship Plus Seminar Series held online via Zoom, 24 May 2021.
    3. Unravelling a complex relationship: Do students learn better with the use of information technology?” at the Learning and Teaching Expo 2019 held in Hong Kong, 11-13 Dec 2019.
    4. "Interrogating the relationship between principal leadership and student achievement: The role of contextual challenges and constraints" at Education University of Hong Kong Department of Educational Policy and Leadership, 26 November 2018.
    5. "The role of contextual challenges and constraints on the relationship between principal leadership and student achievement" at University of Glasgow Robert Owen Centre for Educational Change, 3 July 2017.
    6. "The role of contextual challenges and constraints on the relationship between principal leadership and student achievement" at Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of Educational Administration and Policy, 23 October 2017. 
    7. “Integrating etic and emic perspectives in the study of parenting in Singapore” at the Ninth Family Research Network Forum “Nurturing our young – Parenting in the 21st century” held in Singapore, 2013.


    Editorial Contributions:

    1. Associate Editor, Frontiers in Educational Psychology (2021-)
    2. Editorial Board Member, Education Journal (May 2019- May 2021)
    3. Editorial Board Member, Education Reform Journal (April 2019-)
    4. Editorial Board Member, Journal of Research in Childhood Education (2018-present)



    1. Seminar “How does access to IT influence students’ mathematics achievement? Interrogating equity issues through examining main and interactive effects” on 1 Jun 2019. Teachers and other educators in the audience learned about how familial and school resources moderated the relationships between access to information technology and mathematics achievement. Organizers: HKU CITE, HKU TELI, HKU Libraries, & HKEdCity.
    2. Seminar “Do secondary students learn better with information technology at home and in school? Interrogating the data from Confucian Heritage Cultures” on 9 Jun 2018. Teachers and other educators in the audience learned about how students could benefit from information technology in their learning. Organizers: HKU CITE, HKU Education Faculty, HKU TELI, HKU Libraries, HKEdCity, & IEEE Hong Kong section – Education Chapter.
    3. Seminar “Integration of information technology in schools: Examining the enabling factors” on 9 Jun 2017. Teachers and other educators in the audience learned about how information technology could be integrated in school teaching. Organizers: HKU Centre for Information Technology in Education (CITE), HKU Education Faculty, HKU Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (CETL), HKU Technology-enriched Learning Initiative (TELI), HKU Libraries, Hong Kong Education City (HKEdCity), & ETC Educational Technology Connection (HK) Ltd.


    Media Press Releases:

    1. A set of six bulletins sharing findings and implications from the eCitizenship Education 360study involving over 550 school leaders, about 790 teachers, 1300 parents, and 6300 students from primary, secondary, and special schools in Hong Kong. 


    Media Coverage:

    1. Interview by UNICEF Youth Envoys on digital inequality in Hong Kong on 28 May 2021.
    2. RTHK 123 Show - interview on “Educational inequality on 29 September 20 (
    3. My meta-analytic study on how parental involvement activities impact student learning was referenced in 11 news media platforms (August-September 2020) featuring how parents can be involved in supporting their children’s online learning during the school suspension in COVID-19. These media platforms are The Greenville News, Detroit Free Press, Statesman Journal, USA Today, The Indianapolis Star, The Arizona Republic, JS Online – Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, MSN, The Colombus Dispatch, Medium US, ThriveGlobal
    4. Interview for the news article “The struggles of homeschooling in the world’s tiniest apartments on my expert opinion on how school suspension during COVID-19 in Hong Kong has impacted student learning and exacerbated social and digital inequality. Results of the interview were reported in major newspapers including Bloomberg (dated 20 May 2020), The Straits Times (Singapore dated 20 May 2020), and 台湾醒报 (dated 25 May 2020).


    Social Media:

    1. Empowering teachers to enhance student learning via ALiTE Research Brief (14 April 22)
    2. Children's right to education in a digitally unequal world via SCAPE blog (13 April 22)
    3. Sharing on how school leadership practices relate to student outcomes via Faculti (17 January 22)
    4. Sharing on digital inequality with Unicef Hong Kong Young Envoys Programme 2020
    5. Research brief (posted on webpage of The Joseph Luen Hung Charitable Trust: Asi Pacific Centre for Leadership and Change, The Education University of Hong Kong) on how informed school leadership practice can impact student learning from project "What is the contribution of school leadership to student learning? A thematic review and meta-analytic study
    6. Sharing on cross-cultural perspectives of parenting via an interview by Ms Katrina Lee, Editor/Super Parents magazine. The interview was subsequently published in a special feature article ‘Chinese versus Western parenting: How parents in Hong Kong could promote optimal child development’ in the May 2017 issue of Super Parents magazine (pp. 16-21).
    7. Sharing on contingency perspective of school leadership via a Skype interview by Dr Johannes Mioskavo. The interview was broadcast by Pedagogical (Instructional) Leadership Network (PLR-network) via an audio podcast ‘What type of school leadership benefits student learning most?’ on 5 Oct 2016. The podcast is accessible via Facebook and other social media.


    Selected Journals where I had Served as Reviewer:

    • Review of Educational Research (regular reviewer)
    • Educational Research Review (regular reviewer)
    • American Educational Research Journal (regular reviewer)
    • Educational Administration Quarterly (regular reviewer)
    • British Educational Research Journal (regular reviewer)
    • Journal of Educational Psychology (regular reviewer)
    • Child Development (regular reviewer)
    • Computers & Education
    • Critical Studies in Education
    • Educational Review

    Courses taught:

    1. MEDD8001 Educational issues and research
    2. MEDD7124 Individual and home predictors of students’ academic achievement
    3. MEDD8669 Teacher and classroom predictors of students’ academic achievement
    4. EDUR8054 Social inequality in educational achievement
    5. EDUR8200 School effectiveness and improvement


    Research topics of PhD/EdD students supervised:

    1. Cultural capital and urban-rural educational inequality in China
    2. Digital divide in Hong Kong secondary education: A cultural capital perspective 
    3. Examining educational (in)equality in Mainland China: Institutional, sociocultural and individual factors
    4. Inequity of English education in China
    5. The relationship between parental involvement, parental involvement with technology use, autonomy supportive parenting and academic achievement, mediated by intrinsic motivation
    6. Familial and school factors in student learning
    7. Examining parenting styles and parental investment strategies improving high-SES students' academic performance in international schools in Mainland China
    8. Academic aspirations of working-class students in elite universities in China