Date of Award

Spring 6-13-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Monkman Karen

Second Advisor

Kuzmic Jeff

Third Advisor

Kang Zongmin


Over fifty thousand Chinese students are leaving China to study in US high schools. This interview-based, narrative inquiry study focuses on the experience of ten Chinese nationals now studying at a US high school and expands work done in comparative pedagogy by offering thick descriptions of the school experience in two cultures. This study makes the case that China’s changing culture is reflected in the stories and school histories of Chinese students who experience pedagogy as significantly different in China and the US. The push that drives students out of China includes high-stakes testing and public ranking systems and the individual success of students within these systems. Students’ experience school in China as a symbiotic relationship between teachers, students, and schools, which often manifests in culturally located methods for efficient study, including achievement collaboration—wherein actors work together for mutual success. It is within this context that many students are pulled to study in the US in order to take up a certain degree of cultural rebellion, wherein they perceive that US schools have the resources to provide for broader constructions of school success than in China. This study illuminates how these students then gain new knowledge around how to be successful in school in two cultures and how to better navigate global education mobility. It is in this way that Chinese students become conduits of change. They influence the curricula, programming, and services offered at the schools they attend in both countries, emphasizing how cross-border mobility (re)shapes the identities and values around education for all involved, from individual students and schools to educational policy and reform. This study engages how schools in the US are meeting the needs of these students in both policy and practice, and lends nuance to the literature around intercultural education and the impact of globalization on pedagogy.