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Cunningham, "Chinese university students' attitudes toward the examination system," 1992

USC Dissertation in Education.
August 26, 2009

Elizabeth Anne Cunningham, Ph.D.

Abstract (Summary)
Summary. This study revealed the current attitudes of Chinese university students toward their examination system in the People's Republic of China and the positive and negative outcomes of the examinations. It also described the attitudinal outcomes as they relate to three separate models/frameworks of Chinese education--the Confucian, the Struggle, and the Modernization models--each representing a framework of principles and procedures used within Chinese education and examinations throughout China's long history.

Problem. The National University Entrance Examination is perhaps the most life-changing examination for all students in the People's Republic of China. The university examination system is likewise a rigid and controlling selecting device among Chinese university students. To understand the full impact, the examination system must be seen as the central feature of educational policy decision in China, with emphasis on the positive and negative outcomes of the decision and their effects on society and students' lives.

Methodology. A three-part, open-ended survey research study of 840 Chinese university students on six Chinese campuses. Questions tested the influence of three Chinese educational models on current student attitudes. Analysis of the data was divided into the positive and negative outcomes of the examination system on Chinese university students.

Questions and issues. How is the examination system seen as the central feature of the Chinese educational system as applied to the three models used? What are the Chinese university students' attitudes toward the examination system? How are student attitudes influenced by the three models of Chinese education?

Conclusion. In order to more fully understand the Chinese university educational system, the Confucian model, the Struggle model, and the Modernization model must be explored and the centrality of the examination system and its influence on university students clearly understood. The examination system of China's universities influences the goals of higher education, the teaching methodology, the learning methods, the curricula, and the outcomes of students' attitudes. Careful research should be continued on the powerful, and often destructive, outcomes of national educational policy decisions regarding examination systems within any country. (Copies available exclusively from Micrographics Department, Doheny Library, USC, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0182.)

Advisor: Rideout, William M., Jr.