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Frontiers of Education in China

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 139–157 | Cite as

Inquiry-based learning in China: Do teachers practice what they preach, and why?

  • David Yun DaiEmail author
  • Kathryn A. Gerbino
  • Michael J. Daley
Research Article

Abstract

China is undergoing an education reform that calls for a change from a rigid, fixed curriculum and didactic pedagogy to a more flexible, school-based curriculum and more inquiry-based pedagogy. This study investigated the extent to which Chinese middle and high school teachers (a) endorse an inquiry-based approach and underlying learning principles, (b) practice this mode of teaching, and (c) believe that the approach is practically viable in the current educational contexts in China. A structured survey was developed to solicit Chinese teachers’ responses to the above three issues. A total of 582 valid responses were collected, representing middle and high schools in different geographic locations. The results show that Chinese teachers are receptive to inquiry-based pedagogy but find practical constraints in fully implementing it. Several cultural and pragmatic reasons are explored. Policy implications are discussed with respect to teacher education/development, capacity building for the new pedagogy, and teaching/evaluation alignment. Finally cultural issues are discussed regarding using inquiry-based learning to enhance critical thinking and nurture independent thinkers.

Keywords

inquiry-based learning education reform teacher development high-stakes testing 

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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Yun Dai
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kathryn A. Gerbino
    • 2
  • Michael J. Daley
    • 3
  1. 1.Division of Educational Psychology and MethodologyUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Capital Region BOCES of New York State AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  3. 3.Department of Educational Administration and Policy StudiesUniversity at Albany, State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

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