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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


, Volume 9 Issue 4

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Exploring Relationship between Teaching Practice and Student Learning: Comparative Analysis Using Large Data Bases
Front. Educ. China. 2014, 9 (4): 475-492.
Abstract   PDF (217KB)

This special issue introduction specifies several rationales for its focus on the relationship between teaching practice and student learning. Worldwide teaching reforms show some converging policy patterns with shared assumptions around the role of teaching practices in shaping students’ learning outcomes as their bases. These assumptions and policy patterns are seriously challenged by various countering arguments and critiques. Such a contentious situation demands extensive and solid empirical knowledge for its productive resolution at a conceptual level and for guiding the development of the relevant teaching reforms in different countries. However, such knowledge is not available readily in the exiting literature, which is fragmented and limited, with few studies based on large databases from a comparative perspective involving non-Western countries and regions. It goes on to introduce four studies in the special issue that use international databases and comparative analyses involving different countries/regions and highlights their contributions to the much-needed empirical knowledge. Finally, it calls for further and more extensive research along this line of empirical exploration.

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Quality Mathematics Instructional Practices Contributing to Student Achievements in Five High-Achieving Asian Education Systems: An Analysis Using TIMSS 2011 Data
Front. Educ. China. 2014, 9 (4): 493-518.
Abstract   PDF (506KB)

Although teaching quality is seen as crucial in affecting students’ performance, what types of instructional practices constitute quality teaching remains a question. With the theoretical assumptions of conceptual and procedural mathematics teaching as a guide, this study examined the types of quality mathematics instructional practices that affect students’ mathematics learning across five high-performing Asian education systems using the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 dataset. It found that no combinations of the components of conceptual and procedural mathematics teaching practices exist consistently across the five education systems. Results from the study provide important implications for practitioners and policy makers regarding how to improve mathematics teaching and learning in these Asian education systems as well as elsewhere.

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Relationship between Science Teaching Practices and Students’ Achievement in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and the US: An Analysis Using TIMSS 2011 Data
Front. Educ. China. 2014, 9 (4): 519-551.
Abstract   PDF (326KB)

The assumption that inquiry-based instruction is more effective in influencing student science achievement than traditional didactic teaching has been the driving force of science education reform in recent decades and in many countries. However, the empirical relationship between these two kinds of science teaching and student science performance is not soundly established, which is worth a careful examination. Framed through the theoretical perspectives of inquiry-based instruction and culturally relevant pedagogy, using a two-level hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) approach and simultaneous multiple regression, this study examines the above relationship using the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 8th grade dataset from Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and the US. The study found that for the low-performing students, none of the inquiry-based teaching practice items measured had a significant relationship with the science achievements at any performance levels of students in any country/region except for the case of two inquiry-based teaching practice items that were positively related to Chinese Taipei students’ achievements. No didactic teaching practice items were associated with the Singapore students’ science achievement, three of these practice items were found negatively related to Chinese Taipei students’ science achievement, and one traditional didactic teaching practice was negatively related to the science achievement of U.S. students. However, for medium- and high-performing students, none of these inquiry-based or traditional didactic science-teaching practices were found to be positive predictors of science performance in all three countries/regions. However, in the case of Chinese Taipei, one didactic teaching practice item was negatively related with the medium level performing students’ achievement and two didactic teaching practices were found to hinder high-performing students’ science achievements.

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Relationship between Computer-Based Reading Activities and Reading Achievements among Hong Kong and U.S. Students: A Comparative Study Using PIRLS 2011 Data
Dan LI,Jian WANG
Front. Educ. China. 2014, 9 (4): 552-576.
Abstract   PDF (301KB)

Reading for personal interest and acquiring and using information using various reading processes are important parts of reading literacy that students need to develop in order to progress successfully through their schooling and fully function in the information society. Computer assisted reading instructional activities are assumed useful in improving the reading literacy of students, especially reading processes. However, students in Hong Kong and the US demonstrated a substantial performance gap in reading proficiency. Using the data from Progress in International Reading Literacy (PIRLS) 2011, this study examines whether and to what extent four computer-based reading instructional activities influence students’ performance in reading processes central to reading for interest and acquiring and using information in Hong Kong and the US. It found that computer-based reading activities are associated with students’ literacy performance in different ways in the two places. In particular, the more often Hong Kong students used the computer to read, the lower the reading achievement in all reading processes measured. However, in the US context, using the computer to write is positively associated with students’ reading scores in all reading processes while using software is negatively related to their reading performance in using all the reading processes.

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Relationship Between Teacher Efficacy and Self-Reported Instructional Practices: An Examination of Five Asian Countries/Regions Using TIMSS 2011 Data
Qingmin SHI
Front. Educ. China. 2014, 9 (4): 577-602.
Abstract   PDF (460KB)

Teacher efficacy in a particular content area is seen as an important factor shaping teaching practice and student learning in the Western literature. However, inadequate efforts have been made to examine this assumption empirically. Drawing on the Trends of International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 mathematics teachers’ data at the eighth grade level, this study examines the relationship between teacher efficacy in teaching mathematics and teachers’ mathematical instructional practices in five Asian countries/regions. Guided with Bandura’s social cognitive theory, this study finds that overall teachers in the five countries/regions reported much lower teacher efficacy in teaching mathematics and lower levels of instructional practices than the international norms. The relationship between teacher efficacy and instructional practices varied within these countries/regions. Teacher efficacies in teaching mathematics are not always statistically and positively related to their instructional practices in engaging students. Together, these findings challenge the theoretical assumption about the positive relationship between teacher efficacy and instructional practices. Possible reasons of these findings and future directions are discussed.

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On General Issues of Bilingual Education for Minority Ethnic Groups
GU Mingyuan
Front. Educ. China. 2014, 9 (4): 603-611.
Abstract   PDF (201KB)

Minority language literacy is an important issue in national education policy for any multi-nationality country. China sticks to the policy of safeguarding the rights and interests of ethnic minority groups to use their own languages and writing systems. In education, considering communications among different nationalities and the development of minority ethnic groups, a bilingual education policy is being implemented by insisting on teaching students in their own ethnic languages; when the mastery of their own languages has been achieved, bilingual teaching will be employed. There are three types of bilingual teaching for minority ethnic groups: teaching in their own languages, with Mandarin Chinese added; teaching in Mandarin Chinese, with minority languages added; teaching both in Mandarin Chinese and in minority languages. The biggest problems to be solved in implementing bilingual education in ethnic minority regions are the editing of language textbooks and supporting materials for minority ethnic groups and the training of ethnic minority teachers.

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12 articles