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Frontiers of Education in China

ISSN 1673-341X (Print)
ISSN 1673-3533 (Online)
CN 11-5741/G4
Postal Subscription Code 80-979

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, Volume 14 Issue 1

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Research article
Turning Scars into Stars: A Reconceptualized View of Modern University Development in Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, and Singapore
YANG Rui
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (1): 1-32.  https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-019-0001-0
Abstract   PDF (424KB)

Since the 19th century, Chinese societies, as latecomers to modernization, have prioritized Western learning. Modelled on European and North American experiences, modern universities were created to serve this purpose. Having little linkage to their indigenous cultural traditions, they operate in Confucian socio-cultural contexts, with constant and longstanding struggles with their cultural identity. In recent decades, these societies have progressed remarkably well in higher education. Their experience could be seen as a cultural experiment that is placed highly on their sustainable development agendas. The products of their modern education systems especially at the elite level have demonstrated a grasp of both traditional and Western knowledge, with their very best universities well positioned to combine Chinese and Western ideas of a university in everyday operation. Such a bi-cultural condition contrasts sharply to the still largely mono-cultural (Western only) university operating environment in the West. The integration opens further space for their universities to explore an alternative to the Western academic model that has long dominated world higher education. Based on fieldwork at premier universities in Beijing, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei, this article calls for a reconceptualized view of modern university development in Chinese societies. It argues that the experiment enables their top universities to bring back their cultural traditions to integrate with Western values and contribute to inter-civilizational dialogue.

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Transnational Edu-Business in China: A Case Study of Culturalist Market-Making from Finland
Fred DERVIN, Ashley SIMPSON
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (1): 33-58.  https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-019-0002-z
Abstract   PDF (938KB)

This article examines a scholar’s discourses related to edu-business in the context of Sino-Finnish edu-business. Based on a critical approach to interculturality, and the decade-long critiques of culturalism, a case study serves as an illustration of the use of the concept of culture by a scholar from Finland to retail Finnish education in China. The results show a reliance on an old and highly criticized conception of culture and a tendency to exoticize and aggrandize Finland, the Finns and Finnish education. Yet a hint at similarities between “Asians” and Finns represents an interesting move from typical differentialist discourses. The article ends with a call for taking interdisciplinarity and ethics into account in edu-business activities in academia.

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What Do Students Know about University Rankings? Testing Familiarity and Knowledge of Global and Domestic University League Tables in China
Ryan M. ALLEN
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (1): 59-89.  https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-019-0003-y
Abstract   PDF (713KB)

While academics and university administrators often criticize rankings, league tables have become important tools for student decision-making, especially in the Chinese sector. Yet, research has not fully explored how students in China have engaged with both global and local rankings, as most studies have focused on one setting or the other. Likewise, researchers have not tested students’ knowledge of rankings, despite the intense focus on these actors by universities. Using a survey of over 900 students from Chinese universities, the author explored how knowledge of rankings varies in different student populations. Through multivariate analysis, it is found that students from elite institutions and those with educated parents were more attuned to university rankings in general. However, when testing students’ knowledge of rankings, elite university students performed better in knowing their domestic ranking, but worse when guessing their global ranking, while associations to parental education disappeared. This study, the first of its kind in terms of testing student knowledge, illustrates that the impact from university rankings are mitigated by local and individual characteristics.

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Chinese EFL Learners’ Phonetics Learning Guided by Visuospatial Cues through the Medium of Mobile Phones
YANG Huiyu
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (1): 90-116.  https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-019-0004-x
Abstract   PDF (1963KB)

The relevant studies using a cross sectional view of speech organs supplemented with visuospatial cues and verbal text to explore EFL learners’ learning effectiveness and behavior through mobile devices when learning English phonetics are scarce. This study was attempted to investigate whether the presence of visuospatial cues can benefit EFL learners with different levels of prior knowledge in learning English phonetics through mobile devices. The present study investigated the interaction between the experimental condition and the learners’ prior knowledge on their task performances and cognitive load ratings. Fifty-six English as a foreign language (EFL) learners recruited from two sections of a linguistics course participated in the experiment. First, their background knowledge concerning English phonetics was evaluated to determine their prior knowledge level. Then, they were randomly assigned into two experimental conditions—picture-plus-text and picture-plus-text-plus-cueing. After the experimental treatment, the participants were administered retention and transfer tests as well as cognitive load measurement. Experimental treatment and prior knowledge were the independent variables, while retention test, transfer test, study time, and number of clicks were the dependent variables. The results of the present study emphasized the importance of visuospatial cues on inducing deep cognitive processing as indicated by the learners’ test performance and study patterns.

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Do Pay-for-Grades Programs Encourage Student Academic Cheating? Evidence from a Randomized Experiment
Tao LI, Yisu ZHOU
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (1): 117-137.  https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-019-0005-9
Abstract   PDF (370KB)

Pay-for-grades programs aim to incentivize families and students to engage in specified behaviors given financial remittance. In addition to doubts over its effectiveness, educators worry that monetary incentives could skew student learning motivation and lead to academic cheating. Using a randomized control trial in 11 Chinese primary schools, we studied the effects of pay-for-grades programs on academic cheating. We randomly assigned 82 classrooms into treatment or control conditions, and used a statistical algorithm to determine the occurrence of cheating. While our data indicates a concerning level of cheating overall, our experiment did not find any relationship between academic cheating and the pay-for-grades program. Finally, we discuss the feasibility of such policies in improving learning outcomes and its policy implications.

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Understanding University President Leadership Research in China: A Review
Peng LIU, WANG Xiaoyang, LIANG Xiaomeng
Front. Educ. China. 2019, 14 (1): 138-160.  https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1007/s11516-019-0006-8
Abstract   PDF (344KB)

This article explores the Chinese literature on Chinese higher educational leadership in order to contribute to the international literature generally and facilitate Chinese higher education leadership research in particular. The seven themes identified in this literature are: the president accountability system led by the Communist Party of China (CPC) party committee; leadership team construction in universities and colleges; the common characteristics of university presidents in China; the accomplishments of university presidents; the relationship between university development and presidents’ accomplishments the selection mechanism for university presidents; and the professionalization of governance and the professionalism of university presidents. Future research directions are also discussed in order to contribute the research in this area.

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