Diversity in the Chinese classroom in changing contexts

Chiu Ling Grace MAK

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5 Citations (Scopus)


International comparisons in educational achievement and economic performance have spurred studies on the East Asian learner. In this context the cultural perspective on the Chinese learner has gained currency. This paper examines how the interaction of cultural, social and structural forces shape the changing patterns of diversity among Chinese learners. I will argue that the cultural explanation is powerful as an inter-cultural typology, where the salient features of a culture are highlighted for comparison at the system level. However, it becomes limited as one's attention shifts to daily practice, where sharp individual differences present a major challenge to teachers. It is necessary to study the Chinese learner also as an intra-cultural typology. A probe into possible causes of individual differences in the changing social reality supports a social explanation to complement the cultural one. Educational policy initiatives, notably mass education, reduction of streaming and additional support for students from deprived backgrounds, attempt to narrow the gap through more equitable structures. The tension between cultural and planned structural factors on one hand and social factors on the other thus exerts competing influence on Chinese learners, resulting in increasing diversity in the new social reality in the Chinese classroom. Copyright © 2008 Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-266
JournalEvaluation & Research in Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2008


Mak, G. C. L. (2008). Diversity in the Chinese classroom in changing contexts. Evaluation & Research in Education, 21(3), 252-266.


  • Chinese learners
  • Chinese classroom
  • Cultural typology
  • Structural factor
  • Social factors


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