Theses Doctoral

Higher Education Demand in China: Ministry Response, Foreign Universities, and Global Competence

Gao, Junjian

This study examined Chinese university students enrolled in a Sino-United States university and how they perceived learning processes, academic value, and cultural awareness at two distinct campuses. Comparing and contrasting student experiences at a foreign satellite campus in China (Wenzhou-Kean University) with the experiences of those same students at an American host campus (Kean University), I examined academic and cultural learning as well as the achievement of “global competence.” Through the prism of student learning, the nature and quality of student experiences at the two campuses informed my perceptions of the students’ understanding of culture and context. Moreover, I attempted to gain a greater understanding of the role of Chinese parents in the university decision-making process. This study was framed by human capital theory (Schultz,1961; Tan, 2014), situated cognition theory (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989), and experiential learning theory (Rogers, 1969).

As the study investigated both Chinese students’ experiences and parental involvement within the university decision-making process, I deemed a mixed-methods design most appropriate. Data were collected by surveying 313 targeted persons, yielding 86 valid response surveys and 16 individual interviews.

The results were instructive. At both campuses, a university infrastructure existed to maximize the cognitive and academic benefits of joining American and Chinese student cohorts, the goal of English language proficiency, and an awareness of global competence. However, while the Chinese satellite campus may have required a more rigorous academic curriculum, the American Kean campus provided high-quality meaningful learning opportunities to Chinese students. Indeed, while only a small percentage of the Chinese students were able to obtain long-term competency-based professional opportunities, those students who were able to build local connections premised on global competence were the most successful. The study highlighted the necessity of global competence as an explicit function of the academic experience, the need for domestic and international students to participate in the formal and informal ways in which the cultural context of language is learned, and the desire of Chinese parents to have a university education that is competitive in the global marketplace.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Interdisciplinary Studies in Education
Thesis Advisors
Leichter, Hope
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
February 23, 2021