Learning to make change happen in Chinese schools: Adapting a problem-based computer simulation for training school leaders

Shaobing TANG

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


School leaders are considered crucial figures in schools’ success and failure. Hence, school leader training has become a critical strategy to lead to the success of educational reform. However, in China, there still exists a big gap in terms of how to transfer that knowledge into practice. Thus, products or tools which can integrate formal knowledge into practice are called for urgently in school leader training. A computer simulation titled Making Change Happen (The NETWORK Inc., 1997), which was created by the first co-investigator Professor Philip Hallinger for a Western context, will be adopted in this study as the core instructional medium. In Making Change Happen simulation, learners work in teams and act as a “change committee” responsible for implementing a major technology innovation in anorganization. This study will employ a research and development (R&D) approach (Borg & Gall, 1989) by involving a cycle of research activities and computer programming that includes the following: 1) research and information collection; 2) planning of objectives, learning activities, small-scale testing; 3) developing a preliminary form of the product; 4) preliminary field testing; 5) main product revision; 6) main field testing; 7) final product revision; 8) dissemination and implementation. Findings from the literature review and small-scale qualitative study showed that Chinese school leaders have different contextual constraints, such as China’s social structure, government policy, cultural norms, educational theories and teaching principles. However, the descriptions and the strategies reported among successful school leadership for change in China bore a clear resemblance to best practice recommendations that appear in the Western literature on leading change in schools. Results from the two field tests indicated that the Chinese school version of MCHTM was successfully adapted to be culturally appropriate for Chinese schools for the purpose of school leader training and development. The training mode with the Chinese school version of MCHTM as the core instructional medium was warmly welcome by most of the participants and was considered unprecedented, creative, effective and timely needed for school leader training in China. The purpose of this study is to use knowledge of educational change and improvement in China to develop a Chinese version of a computer-based simulation for school leader training. The objective of the study is to look for a more effective approach to primary and secondary school leader training, which would help school leaders learn to lead change and enable educational change to really happen in China. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • WALKER, Allan David 汪雅量, Supervisor
  • LU, Jiafang 陸佳芳, Supervisor
  • HALLINGER, Philip, Supervisor
Award date02 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Educational Change
  • Educational Leadership
  • School Administrators--Training of--China
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2015


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