© 2020

Educating Mainland Chinese Learners in Business Education

Pedagogical and Cultural Perspectives – Singapore Experiences

  • Provides comprehensive guidance and proposes a practical framework to facilitate effective learning and knowledge transfer

  • Offers readers a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and various aspects of cultural dislocation

  • Recommends concrete approaches to effectively understanding and engaging with mainland Chinese learners


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xviii
  2. Kumaran Rajaram
    Pages 1-17
  3. Theory and Conceptual Framework

  4. Applications to Universities and Higher Education Institutions

About this book


This book presents strategies and practices for facilitating effective learning for mainland Chinese students in western based education – regarding e.g. the choice of instructional techniques, attention to students’ cultural dislocation aspects, comfort, familiarity, and ease of knowledge transfer. It embeds innovativeness at a conceptual level, and argues for a holistic and “engaged” approach to learning effectiveness for mainland Chinese students.


Chinese in western education Cultural dislocation Instructional Techniques Knowledge Transfer Learning Effectiveness Mainland Chinese Learners business education

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Nanyang Business SchoolNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

About the authors

Dr Rajaram is a Senior Lecturer and Course Director at Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he teaches, leads a team of senior instructors, and is responsible for the curriculum & learning design of management and leadership courses. He is also a Research Fellow-Affiliate with the Centre for Research and Development in Learning, and Founder & Executive Director of the Research Lab for Learning Innovations and Culture of Learning - InnosolvLearn, Creative Solutions. He holds a PhD with Distinction in Business and Management (focusing on Learning Science). In recognition of his contributions, he was nominated for the Emerald Outstanding Doctoral Research Award in 2012, 2013 and 2014. He has received multiple competitive school, university and national level research grants and awards on topics related to pedagogical innovation and leadership competencies. He has published extensively on management education, learning culture in multi-disciplinary contexts, learning analytics and internationalization of business education. Dr Rajaram has over 18 years of leadership and senior management corporate experience in organizational change, strategic management and learning & training development. He is an expert in internationalization, learning cultures & cultures of learning, management education, innovation management, leadership, competency and soft skills development, and change management. He was instrumental in transforming and implementing the flipped-classroom pedagogy, adopting problem-based and team-based learning in the program that he chairs. He was nominated for the Outstanding USQ Academic & Research Alumnus Award in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He was also selected for the John Cheung Social Media Award 2016, NTU EdeX Grants 2016 & 2017 and MOE TRF National Level Grant 2017.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Educating Mainland Chinese Learners in Business Education
  • Book Subtitle Pedagogical and Cultural Perspectives – Singapore Experiences
  • Authors Kumaran Rajaram
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Singapore
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-981-15-3393-8
  • eBook ISBN 978-981-15-3395-2
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XVIII, 185
  • Number of Illustrations 8 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics International and Comparative Education
    Learning & Instruction
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


Dr Kumaran Rajaram has meticulously provided insights into how the World should deal with mainland Chinese students eager for pursuing foreign degrees in business education.  The book is a compelling and practical read, with a case study of Singapore as an educational hub for international students, a significant portion of whom are from China. The theoretically sophisticated approach and empirically rich findings reveal why and how a well-programmed curriculum should be in place to help Chinese students transcend cultural boundaries for real education outcomes.Assoc Professor Yow Cheun Hoe, Director, Chinese Heritage Centre;  Head of Chinese; Director, Centre for Chinese Language and Culture, Nanyang Technological University

This book is a timely contribution to understanding the cultural contexts and nuances of educating mainland Chinese in business education, and beyond. Indeed, a large number of Chinese students, more than six hundred thousand, go abroad annually for their university education, business education included. Understanding how learners from different cultural contexts learn helps us to respect diversified approaches in higher education to cater for diversified learners. With evidence-based findings and probing discussions, the book will advance the scholarship of internationalization of higher education with new perspectives and viewpoints.Professor Chee-Kit Looi, Co-Director, Centre for Research and Development in Learning, Nanyang Technological University 

The book delivers an exceptional set of ideas, and practical- and policy-related recommendations for positive transformational changes in higher education with focus on specifics of Chinese learners. It builds upon years of experiences and an exceptional level of expertise of a reflective practitioner who carefully detailed and researched specific of Chinese learners. The book presents not only a set of strong theoretical ideas, but it is further empowered through practical case stories, experiential accounts and empirical evidences. As such, the book will prove to be a powerful resource for practitioners, policy-maker, experts and researchers in higher education contexts whose success is dependent upon positive transformation designed to meet needs of Chinese learners.Assoc Professor Daniel Churchill, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong

Accumulating years of management education experience with learning partners from China, the author provide culturally intelligent pedagogies, effectively and efficiently, to navigate imminent Chinese business executives and public servants.  For western educators, this book is valuable for insights to decode Chinese learners’ behaviors embedded in various schools of Chinese philosophies, especially in blended learning scenarios interacting with theories and frameworks generated by western scholars.  This book also furthers design thinking implications for educators to innovate in the process of knowledge creation and distribution.  It is also a good reference which facilitates Chinese talent development professionals’ collaboration in programme designing process with western educators.Dr. Li Yan, Senior Lecturer; Director, Mandarin Executive Education, China Programmes, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

Over the years, and especially after China opened up in 1978, countless number of Chinese students went abroad to study, especially in the Western world.  The pursuit of a Western and English-based education was highly treasured in China.  During this period, Singapore has also played host to thousands of Chinese students in their quest for education. Today, many of them can still be found in our various education institutions, both public and private, and from the primary to tertiary levels. For the education providers, it is very important to know how to best cater to the needs of these Chinese learners.  This book is thus very timely in addressing this issue, and the author must be highly commended for providing a very insightful perspective on the subject.  This book, I believe, would be very beneficial to all educators." Professor (Adjunct) Wee Chow Hou, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore University of Social Sciences; Former Business School Dean of National University of Singapore

Dr Rajaram’s book is a significant contribution to the field of cross-cultural business education. Its treatment of learning culture and culture of learning should be well-studied by business educators who teach across international borders. The evidence-based teaching strategies recommended by Dr Rajaram are theoretically innovative and practically viable.Assoc Professor Andres Carlos Luco, School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University

This book presents a contemporary picture of educating international students. Much of the literature on international education presents an east to west picture  here internationals students from the eastern hemisphere have to acculturate in the west context. The gap in such a literature is that there is no one homogeneous east and it is a different kind of challenge for both students and educators when Chinese students are being educated in another eastern country such as Singapore. The current book, underpinned by good quality empirical work and theorizing, plugs this gap very effectively. Assoc Prof Sarbari Bordia, Deputy Director, Higher Degree by Research, Research School of Management, Australian National University

This text as an important addition to the international research literature on teaching the Chinese learner in higher education. This work builds on and extends research work carried out at the University of Hong Kong on the Chinese learner, edited by Watkins and Biggs (1996 and 2001). This present text focusses on important new areas in business education and examines the Chinese learner from pedagogical and cultural perspectives based on Singapore experiences, whereas Watkins and Biggs focussed on cultural factors to approaching the Chinese learner based on teaching experiences in Hong Kong. This scholarly work uses evidence-based findings and innovative teaching strategies to inspire future teachers of mainland Chinese students in higher education.Prof Bob Fox, Curriculum Academic Lead, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education), University of New South Wales; Teaching Fellow, University of Hong Kong

In a time of globalization of education and a need for the effective delivery of University pedagogy, Educating Mainland Chinese Learners in Business Education provides teachers and scholars with a focused look at best practices in mainland China and Singapore. Evidence- based insights take readers into the complexity of cultural values, student-teacher relationships as well as assessing learning effectiveness among instructional techniques. By reading this book, you will develop a deeper understanding of how to effectively teach and engage Chinese students through customizable instructional techniques. Prof Robert Sroufe, Murrin Chair of Global Competitiveness, Top Ranked MBA Sustainable Business Practices Program, Palumbo-Donahue Graduate School of Business, Duquesne University

The book provides a succinct review of cultural theories in the pedagogical context and presents useful research findings related to Chinese learners. These generated theoretically informed and evidence-based recommendations for optimizing the learning effectiveness of Chinese students. The insightful discussions by the author also stimulate interesting future research questions. Given that China is the world’s largest source of international students, this book is a timely and valuable read for both researchers, institutions, and instructors interested in the internationalization of higher education! Asst Prof Chong SinHui, Division of Leadership, Management and Organisation, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University

As globalization continues, it requires that we increasingly seek to better understand those from other cultures, and how to best support them. It is particularly relevant in Singapore, where there is a growing influx of mainland Chinese students (over 300,000 and climbing). This book is designed to help researchers and teachers improve the cultural integration of Chinese international students in Singapore and beyond. It’s empirically grounded findings, insights and validated practical recommendations advocated in this book address learning issues of mainland Chinese learners in culturally dislocated learning environments, which serve as valuable reflections for varying stakeholders in higher education globally. Asst Prof Ryan Gottfredson, Mihaylo College of Business and Economics, California State University-Fullerton

This book contains many exciting beginning points with nuanced strategies that include more than traditional approaches to learning about the discipline of business studies, it suggests an approach that matches the cultural, as well as how the philosophical starting points of the students who are leaning this topic in a cross-cultural context and the particular approaches of Chinese students.  It also explores the challenges of the how higher education institutions should modify their learning and delivery strategies to match the link between students what and how they learn.John Hedberg, PhD, Adjunct Professor of Education, School of Education, Macquarie University

Dr. Kumaran’s book provides a systematic exposition of how strategies can be formulated to effectively engage and teach the mainland Chinese students in a western-styled education setting. Recommendations in the book, based on his first-hand experience, have been tested and successfully implemented in his classes.  The valuable insights and in-depth evidence-based analysis will be of tremendous interest to educators and scholars in the field of internationalization of higher education. Dr. Ho Shen Yong, Principal Lecturer; Associate Dean (Academic), Division of Physics & Applied Physics; College of Science, Nanyang Technological University

With increasing internationalization of education, educators have to consider the need for change or adaptation of their course pedagogical design and implementation to ensure effective learning for students of different cultural background. This book highlights the relevant research findings and provides guidance to educators who wish to better engage learners from mainland China in learning. Educational researchers, too, will find the summary of extant research on cultural impacts on these students’ learning style and possible interventions to increase their learning effectiveness informative for their research.Assoc Prof Low Kin Yew, Associate Dean (Undergraduate Academic), Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University
Mainland Chinese students form a significant market for degree programs, especially graduate programs in Business, Entrepreneurship, Technology, and Engineering in most International Education destinations such as Singapore, Australia, US and the UK. Dr. Rajaram, a Singaporean Business School academic and researcher on education, learning and pedagogy has written this book based on his painstaking research of learning styles and pedagogy, and his innovative teaching methods that he has developed and tested on business students. By developing a theoretical and conceptual framework based on traditional Chinese culture and value systems, Dr. Rajaram is able to effectively discuss the merits of alternative learning styles and pedagogical techniques that are suited to mainland Chinese students. This is book is very relevant for researchers in education and pedagogy for understanding effective learning methods and the impact of culture on learning effectiveness especially for mainland Chinese students. The book is also a vital reference source for Educators and Program Directors at the Graduate and Executive programs for design and delivery of programs targeted for main Chinese students and executives. Professor S. Viswanathan, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University