Gansu Survey of Children and Families Papers

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version



Adams, J. & Sargent, T. C. (2012) Curriculum Transformation in China: Trends in Student Perceptions of Classroom Practice and Engagement (Working Paper). Gansu Survey of Children and Families.


In the late-1990s, education policymakers began a process of curriculum reform with the goal of transforming Chinese schooling from exam-oriented education to student-centered learning. Traditional education practices have expected students to passively accept and memorize material presented by teachers, and to reproduce the knowledge on often high-stakes examinations. The new curriculum is designed to reduce teacher-centered instruction in favor of student-centered learning characterized by active learners creatively solving problems, challenging existing knowledge, and participating in lively discussion. Despite such a dramatic shift in curriculum policy, little is known about the whether reform efforts are truly transforming the educational experiences of students. In this paper, we describe these changes in curriculum policy. Second, using data from three waves of the Gansu Survey of Children and Families (2000, 2004, 2007), we investigate how student perceptions of classroom and teaching practices have changed as over time as the new curriculum has been implemented. Finally, we examine the relationship between new curriculum practices and student engagement. The perspective of the students is a crucial dimension to understanding the shift in the practices of teaching and learning that seek to cultivate creativity and innovativeness in students to bolster China’s entrance into the global information age.



Date Posted: 24 April 2012