Journal of Computers in Education

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 363–384 | Cite as

Examining Chinese beginning online instructors’ competencies in teaching online based on the Activity theory

  • Yang Wang
  • Yixi Wang
  • David Stein
  • Qingtang LiuEmail author
  • Wenli Chen


This study constructed an instrument based on the Activity theory to investigate the beginning online instructors’ online teaching competencies from the perspective of the online teaching process and applied it to beginning instructors to examine the validity. Eighty-nine beginning online instructors from China participated in this study. Confirmatory factor analysis, descriptive statistics analysis, and regression are used in this study. The results indicated that the Activity theory fit the practice well and the instrument is reliable. Chinese beginning online instructors’ online teaching competencies need to be improved, especially in preparing themselves to teach online and conducting meaningful appraisals of student learning. While beginning instructors’ gender and age had no significant influence on their online teaching competencies, instructors’ educational level, online teaching and learning experience had significant effects on their online teaching competencies. Most instructors perceived that designing and organizing online teaching, as well as evaluating students’ performance are the biggest challenges to move traditional courses online. Additionally, implications of this study and recommendations for future research are provided.


Beginning instructors Teaching competencies Activity theory Process-oriented 



This work is supported by Ministry of education—China mobile research fund project, “Research and experiment on Regional Teaching and research mode supported by information technology” (No. MCM20170502) and Hubei Province Technology Innovation special projects “Key technologies and demonstration applications of Internet + Precision Education” (No. 2017ACA105), as well as Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities In Central China Normal University “Tests and evaluation of teacher development”(No. CCNU16JCZX05).


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Copyright information

© Beijing Normal University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yang Wang
    • 1
  • Yixi Wang
    • 2
  • David Stein
    • 2
  • Qingtang Liu
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wenli Chen
    • 3
  1. 1.Central China Normal UniversityWuhanChina
  2. 2.College of Education and Human EcologyThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.National Institute of Education of Nanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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