Undergraduate student engagement at a Chinese university: a case study

  • Zhe Zhang
  • Wenhua Hu
  • Olwen McNamara


Student engagement in higher education has attracted worldwide attention in recent years because of its strong correlation with positive outcomes of student learning and also, increasingly, because of its influence on a consumer-oriented global education market. Such issues come into sharp focus in the case of China, currently the largest international market for higher education in Western Europe, Australia, and North America. As a growing number of Chinese universities become global players, they are competing with their Western European, Australian, and North American counterparts for a burgeoning home market of more discerning and cost conscious consumers. Nevertheless, limited attention has been paid by the higher education sector as to how student engagement is conceptualized by those consumers and what factors inform and influence their perceptions and choices. This case study of undergraduate student engagement at a Chinese university attempts to begin to answer these questions. It analyzed data collected through interviews and focus groups to investigate student and staff conceptualizations of student engagement and the factors that influenced it. The factors were categorized into external factors (contextual and institutional) and internal factors (personal). A sociocultural analysis identified three issues: transition, lack of studentstaff interaction, and shock students.


Chinese student engagement Higher education Transition Student–staff interaction Shock students Influencing factors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Manchester Institute of EducationThe University of ManchesterManchesterUK
  2. 2.School of Foreign Languages and LiteratureShandong UniversityJinanChina
  3. 3.School of International EducationShandong University of Finance and EconomicsJinanChina

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