Influences of shadow education on the ecology of education: A review of the literature

Jiahui Jess LUO, Cecilia Ka Yuk CHAN

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Shadow education, also widely known as private tutoring or supplementary education, has attracted increasing research attention in the past two decades. The global expansion of shadow education, as well as its penetration to different educational stages and social classes, are believed to have far-reaching implications for the overall educational landscape. However, despite a steadily growing body of literature, no study to date has systematically reviewed the influences of shadow education from an ecological perspective. Therefore, borrowing Bronfenbrenner's ecological systems theory, this paper aims to provide a comprehensive overview of how shadow education influences different levels of educational ecosystems (i.e. individuals, micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro-system). Based on 74 empirical studies published between 2000 and 2020, the review reveals complex influences exerted by shadow education on multiple systems (e.g., students, mainstream schooling, families, and larger socioeconomic structures), contributing to a more sophisticated understanding of this phenomenon. The paper then discusses how the rise of shadow education creates significant changes to the ecology of education in which it operates, and concludes with implications for future practice and research. Copyright © 2022 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100450
JournalEducational Research Review
Early online dateMar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


Luo, J., & Chan, C. K. Y. (2022). Influences of shadow education on the ecology of education: A review of the literature. Educational Research Review, 36, Article 100450.


  • Shadow Education
  • Private tutoring
  • Supplementary education
  • Tutor
  • Influence


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