Although there are studies showing that higher education would benefit university students, empirical research that comprehensively assesses student general education learning outcomes and related demographic correlates based on longitudinal data is minimal, especially in the Chinese context. To address the research gaps, the present study was conducted to investigate learning outcomes amongst university students in one university in Hong Kong based on a four-year longitudinal design (N = 460). Four dimensions of student general education learning outcomes were measured, including effective reasoning and problem solving, leadership, moral character, and integration of learning. Results suggested a U-shaped pattern of student learning outcomes for most dimensions, with no improvement or even a decrement in the second year and a steady growth thereafter. While family background did not affect student development, gender showed a significant moderating effect on students’ development in two dimensions (i.e., effective reasoning and problem solving, and integration of learning). These findings suggest that students benefit from general education-embedded university study in multiple dimensions, especially after the first year of transition period. Practical implications of the findings and future research directions were also discussed.

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Published in Applied Research in Quality of Life, v. 14.

Copyright The Author(s) 2018

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

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This paper was financially supported by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University under Learning and Teaching Development Funding.