© 2018

Undergraduate Student Engagement

Theory and Practice in China and the UK


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 1-16
  3. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 17-42
  4. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 43-55
  5. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 57-81
  6. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 83-102
  7. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 103-115
  8. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 117-141
  9. Zhe Zhang, Olwen McNamara
    Pages 143-153
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 155-171

About this book


This book focuses on undergraduate student engagement in China and the UK. It offers an innovative perspective on this aspect, which, although pervasive, is not always acknowledged by its users to be complex and multidimensional in nature, firmly rooted in cultural, social and disciplinary norms, and difficult to measure. 

Competition within the global higher education market has become increasingly intense amongst universities; and the higher education sector in China, currently the largest source of international students, is beginning to compete strongly for its home market. Against this consumerist background, student engagement, with its close relation to positive learning outcomes, is increasingly receiving attention from higher education managers and researchers who seek to improve the quality of their ‘products’.

The research study on which the book is based draws on three courses, two in China and one in the UK. It offers a binary perspective across two very different cultures (Western and Confucian) and two very different subject areas (Chinese language and mathematics). The study employs a mixed-methods design and develops a conceptual framework derived from statistical and thematic analysis. An original theoretical lens, combining a bioecological perspective (Bronfenbrenner) and a sociocultural one (Holland et al.’s Figured Worlds), adds further interpretive power to help understand the construct of student engagement.


Undergraduate student engagement Cross-disciplinary comparison Chinese higher education Bronfenbrenner’s bioecological model Figured Worlds Student engagement in UK

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen)ShenzhenChina
  2. 2.The University of ManchesterManchesterUnited Kingdom

About the authors

Dr. Zhe Zhang teaches English and conducts educational research at Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen). He has served in the higher education sector for nearly fifteen years, working previously at Shandong University, and also in the Netherlands (Leiden University) and briefly in Australia (Victoria University).  He completed his PhD as a President’s Doctoral Scholar in the School of Education at the University of Manchester (UK). His research interests include undergraduate student experience and engagement and teaching and learning in higher education. Zhe also works as a professional translator, and has translated over 50,000 documents.

Olwen McNamara is a Professor of Education at the University of Manchester, where her research interests include teacher professional learning, especially practitioner research, mathematics education and social justice. She has held a number of management responsibilities at the University of Manchester including Head of Initial Teacher Education, Director of Post Graduate Research Programmes and Head of the School of Education. Her national roles have included Chair of the Research and International Committee of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers, and an Executive Member of the Council of the British Educational Research Association.

Bibliographic information