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SCHOOL-UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS IN TEACHING THE MANDARIN CHINESE LANGUAGE: THE CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE EXPERIENCE

Zhou, Muriel M. (2012) SCHOOL-UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS IN TEACHING THE MANDARIN CHINESE LANGUAGE: THE CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE EXPERIENCE. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh.

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    Abstract

    While the study of major foreign languages faded in thousands of U.S. schools in the last decade, many schools rushed to offer Mandarin Chinese (Dillon, 2010). Despite financial crises and drastic budget cuts since late 2007, the number of K-12 schools offering Mandarin Chinese has been growing. However, no in-depth research has been conducted to capture and study this historical development. We knew very little about how U.S. schools developed Mandarin Chinese instruction through a school-university partnership. This qualitative research investigated how six U.S. secondary schools (five public and one private) developed Mandarin Chinese programs through partnership with the Confucius Institute at University X, and explored how the partnership helped those schools achieve their educational goals and desired outcomes. Two theoretical lenses, i.e. the partnership theory (e.g. Briody & Trotter II, 2008; Clark, 1988; Edwards et al., 2009; Goodlad, 1988; Kloth & Applegate, 2004) and the “loosely coupled system” theory (e.g. Murphy & Hallinger, 1984; Orton & Weick, 1990; Weick, 1976, 1982 & 2001), were employed in this study to explore how the schools and the Confucius Institute partnered as “loosely coupled systems” to achieve their common goal, when the common goal was defined as promoting Chinese language and culture in U.S. schools. This research was designed to focus on the schools’ perspective only. Qualitative data were collected from documentation and open-ended interviews with 22 participants (N = 22), including nine school/school district administrators, five regular school teachers and eight Chinese guest teachers. The study found that the partnership was complimentary and cooperative (not collaborative) in nature and the schools worked with the Confucius Institute on a need-response basis. Working in the partnership as “loosely coupled systems”, the schools enjoyed autonomy and flexibility, but they were challenged with much uncertainty and a lack of consistency and communication on a regular basis. Moreover, financial crises and sharp budget cuts threatened the future of those schools’ Chinese language programs and the partnership. Despite these challenges, those schools confirmed that they had gained some valuable experiences with the development of Mandarin Chinese education and the partnership. Recommendations for further research have been provided.


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    Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
    ETD Committee:
    ETD Committee TypeCommittee MemberEmail
    Committee ChairWeidman, John C.weidman@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberKearns, Kevin P.kkearns@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberGunzenhauser, Michael G.mgunzen@pitt.edu
    Committee MemberJacob, W. Jameswjacob@pitt.edu
    Title: SCHOOL-UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS IN TEACHING THE MANDARIN CHINESE LANGUAGE: THE CONFUCIUS INSTITUTE EXPERIENCE
    Status: Published
    Abstract: While the study of major foreign languages faded in thousands of U.S. schools in the last decade, many schools rushed to offer Mandarin Chinese (Dillon, 2010). Despite financial crises and drastic budget cuts since late 2007, the number of K-12 schools offering Mandarin Chinese has been growing. However, no in-depth research has been conducted to capture and study this historical development. We knew very little about how U.S. schools developed Mandarin Chinese instruction through a school-university partnership. This qualitative research investigated how six U.S. secondary schools (five public and one private) developed Mandarin Chinese programs through partnership with the Confucius Institute at University X, and explored how the partnership helped those schools achieve their educational goals and desired outcomes. Two theoretical lenses, i.e. the partnership theory (e.g. Briody & Trotter II, 2008; Clark, 1988; Edwards et al., 2009; Goodlad, 1988; Kloth & Applegate, 2004) and the “loosely coupled system” theory (e.g. Murphy & Hallinger, 1984; Orton & Weick, 1990; Weick, 1976, 1982 & 2001), were employed in this study to explore how the schools and the Confucius Institute partnered as “loosely coupled systems” to achieve their common goal, when the common goal was defined as promoting Chinese language and culture in U.S. schools. This research was designed to focus on the schools’ perspective only. Qualitative data were collected from documentation and open-ended interviews with 22 participants (N = 22), including nine school/school district administrators, five regular school teachers and eight Chinese guest teachers. The study found that the partnership was complimentary and cooperative (not collaborative) in nature and the schools worked with the Confucius Institute on a need-response basis. Working in the partnership as “loosely coupled systems”, the schools enjoyed autonomy and flexibility, but they were challenged with much uncertainty and a lack of consistency and communication on a regular basis. Moreover, financial crises and sharp budget cuts threatened the future of those schools’ Chinese language programs and the partnership. Despite these challenges, those schools confirmed that they had gained some valuable experiences with the development of Mandarin Chinese education and the partnership. Recommendations for further research have been provided.
    Date: 11 January 2012
    Date Type: Publication
    Defense Date: 30 November 2011
    Approval Date: 11 January 2012
    Submission Date: 14 December 2011
    Release Date: 11 January 2012
    Access Restriction: No restriction; The work is available for access worldwide immediately.
    Patent pending: No
    Number of Pages: 288
    Institution: University of Pittsburgh
    Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
    Refereed: Yes
    Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
    Uncontrolled Keywords: Confucius Institute, international education, international educational partnerships, loosely coupled systems, Mandarin Chinese eduction, organization theory, partnership theory, school-university partnerships, secondary education
    Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
    Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2012 15:48
    Last Modified: 01 Jul 2014 16:44

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