Survey examines education gap

Updated: 2013-10-31 07:57

By Chen Jia in San Francisco (China Daily USA)

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Dubbed as "spoon-fed" teaching, the stereotype of one-way dependency education is still deeply rooted in China's universities, Chinese educators warned recently.

When it comes to communication between teacher and student, there is a big gap between US and Chinese universities under Project 985, a government-run project for founding world-class universities in the country, according to a latest report released by the institute of education under Tsinghua University.

"That's why I decided to drop out of a Chinese university after one year of study, and spend another few months at home passing the TOEFL exam and preparing the paperwork for an American university application," a former student surnamed Chen told China Daily on Wednesday.

"I want to sit in a classroom that has tolerance for students who dare to challenge their teachers," she said, adding that she was tired of being judged as a troubled student just because she wanted to speak out and offer academic opinions that differed from the teacher's.

The traditional Chinese relationship between teacher and student is one of inhibition and obedience, and high regard for the "dignity of the teaching profession", the report said.

The report was based survey of more than 20,000 respondents from 23 universities nationwide.

It also noted many Chinese teachers in universities prefer to spend more time on personal research rather than spending time on their students for "utilitarian reasons".

"With some intangible pressure, we have to fight for more research funding for next year by publishing papers in influential journals," a Chinese professor in Beijing, who declined to be named, told China Daily.

Basically, students' performance in Chinese universities has nothing to do with a teacher's status or academic reputation, he said.

"Most students don't have much pressure for entering higher educational institutes after a four-year bachelor degree, so they also have weak motivation to actively approach teachers," he added.

The survey shows 75 percent of Chinese university students have never talked homework or grades with their teacher, while only 7 percent of American students said the same.

Half of the Chinese survey interviewees said they never discuss their career plans with teachers at the university, and 21 percent of American students had the similar problem.

Teachers' feedback about study performance had been never received by about 36 percent of Chinese students and 7 percent of American students, the survey found.

"How a university equips students with valuable educational experience and positively changed their life should be considered as important standard to value the university's quality," said Shi Jinghuan, the executive vice-dean of the institute of education under Tsinghua University.

China's universities have lagged behind US universities in inspiring students' "cooperative spirit and self study willingness", and failed to set appropriate "academic challenge" for them, she said in the report.

The two sides have smallest gap in the fields of "enriching educational experiences" and "supportive campus environment", according to the report.