Examing the new education experiment in China: An exploratory study of participating teachers' changed view of comprehensive efficacy
University of Kansas
Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
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The New Education Experiment (NEE) in the People's Republic of China has been given very little attention by researchers although it has been implemented in k12 schools for about 10 years since 2002. This study examines how teachers' view of the NEE model (TVM) mediates between participating teachers' demographic and contextual factors, and their changed view of comprehensive efficacy as a result of NEE implementation. It is hypothesized that teachers' backgrounds (demographic and contextual variables), and number of years and level of NEE participation would directly contribute to the change of comprehensive efficacy beliefs. In addition, they would contribute to the change in teachers' comprehensive efficacy indirectly through teachers' view of the NEE model. Quantitative data from 2,173 teachers at different school levels across 12 out of 28 school districts in China indicated that, when TVM was not considered, factors that affected TVCE were fewer and misleading. However, these results were modified when the mediating effect of positive TVM was considered: 1) school's geographic contexts, which had been unrelated to positive TVCE, became related not only to negative TVCE but also to positive TVCE; 2) the non-significant variable of professional title became a significant predictor of both positive and negative TVCE; 3) the variable of years of NEE participation, which had been non-significant to negative TVCE, became significantly associated with it; 4) ten years or more teaching experience, which had been related to higher level of negative TVCE, became unrelated to negative TVCE. Specifically, when teachers' positive view of the NEE model was controlled, teachers with high professional titles, five years or less teaching experience, and working in junior high schools had higher level of positive comprehensive efficacy, while teachers who taught English, in midland or rural schools had lower level of positive comprehensive efficacy; the level and number of years of NEE participation were also related to high positive TVCE when positive TVM mediated. Between the same immediate background variables and negative TVCE, there was an inverse relationship on the condition that positive TVM was controlled: teachers who taught in junior high, with less experience and higher professional titles, participated in NEE for longer time and at a higher level, were likely to have lower level of negative TVCE. In addition, teachers who were in suburban or eastern schools also had lower level of negative TVCE, whereas teachers who were in midland or rural schools, and who taught English or math, had higher level of negative TVCE. In contrast, the qualitative part of the study based on one-year extensive observation and eleven-week intensive ethnographic study of one particular NEE school, provided sufficient evidence to support the quantitative conclusions except for one aspect. Like the findings from the quantitative study, the qualitative data revealed that less experienced and high-ranked teachers and teachers with longer time and higher level of NEE participation had higher positive TVCE, so did teachers who worked in suburban and eastern schools. However, the one-school ethnographic study did not support that junior high teachers were more likely to have higher level of positive TVCE. In addition, the qualitative study concluded that NEE implementation varied greatly both within one school and across different schools; and that belief change and behavior change were reciprocal and interactive. Conclusions and implications were summarized such as the effect of NEE on TVCE, and the effect of TVM on TVCE, either as an independent contributor or as a mediator between other predictors and TVCE. More importantly, the study concluded that successful implementation of the New Education reform depends on 1) a willing heart, a positive attitude, and high comprehensive efficacy beliefs; 2) advocating and creating a more decentralized policy making mechanism, and more equitable environment; 3) a balanced consideration of reform model specificity and teacher autonomy, and 4) a balanced consideration of belief change with behavior change to achieve better implementation effects. Finally, by contextualizing NEE in the broader historical, cultural and social reality of today's China, some constraints and possibilities for NEE's sustainable development were also touched upon.
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