Gansu Survey of Children and Families Papers


Professional Learning Communities and the Diffusion of Pedagogical Innovation in the Chinese Education System

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



Copyright The University of Chicago Press. Reprinted from Comparative Education Review, Vol. 59, No. 1 (February 2015), pp. 102-132
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Pedagogical innovations have been diffusing unevenly through the Chinese education system as a result of the implementation of the New Curriculum Reforms. Drawing on large-scale linked teacher and principal survey data from the Gansu Survey of Children and Families, this article investigates the extent to which interlocking teacher networks, which are a characteristic of professional learning communities in China, play a role in the diffusion of pedagogical innovations. The article argues that, despite teachers’ pessimistic attitudes about the viability of reform success in the face of the examination system, innovative ideas about pedagogy diffuse successfully throughout the education system as a result of frequent opportunities for teachers to interact and observe each other teaching in school-level professional learning communities, and as a result of the cultivation of cosmopolitan external networks for officially designated near-peer teacher opinion leaders.



Date Posted: 18 April 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.