Teacher Effectiveness in China

From Charles Teddlie and Shujie Liu:

Another important contributor to the high time-on-task ratings obtained in this study is discipline, which is a function of the system for maintaining orderliness in the schools and of cultural norms.

For example, observers in one school in the study reported the following:

Teachers in this school are very strict with students in both discipline and studies. During a class, teachers often remind their students to sit appropriately, which means sitting straight and putting their hands behind their backs. If a student wants to answer a question, he/she is expected to raise the right hand with the elbow on his/her desk.

Some of the schools that we studied apparently had a hierarchical approach to discipline involving a couple of players unique to the Chinese system: the aforementioned banzhuren and the daduifudaoyuan.


[A daduifudaoyuan is the head of a branch organization of the Communist Party in primary schools. A daduifudaoyuan has overall responsibility for the students (e.g., students’ studies and behaviors) and their political orientation in particular. A daduifudaoyuan can teach subjects as well, but his/her workload is less than a regular teacher.]

In our sample of schools, discipline issues apparently start with the classroom teacher, then go to the banzhuren, then to the daduifudaoyuan, then the parents, and finally the school’s administration.

This multistep system is more likely to be successful than the two-step system from teacher to principal, which is found in many schools in the USA.

Some of the issue of discipline in China is cultural in nature. The Chinese system emphasizes respect for the teacher much more than that described in the literature from the USA and other Western countries.

Once a teacher comes in for a lecture, all the students stand up and say, ‘‘Good morning (or afternoon), teacher!’’ (Some schools require students to salute the teacher.) The teacher then responds, ‘‘Good morning (or afternoon), students!’’ When the bell rings indicating the class is over, the monitor (the student leader of the class) says loudly, ‘‘Stand up!’’ Then the students stand up and say, ‘‘Good bye, teacher!’’ If students have not stood up or saluted well, the teacher might ask them to do it again.

Respect for teachers is an integral part of the Chinese culture.