Teachers and Teaching in Eastern and Western Schools: A Critical Review of Cross-Cultural Comparative Studies

  • Yanping Fang
  • S. Gopinathan
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE, volume 21)

The nature of teaching in schools in Eastern and Western countries has been a major theme in cross-country comparative studies in education in the past three decades. Interest in such comparative studies emerged in the 1970s after the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) launched the First International Mathematics Study (FIMS) in 1964 (Husen, 1967). This study showed that the US students scored much lower than students in China (Hong Kong), Japan and Korea. Subsequent large-scale quantitative measurements of student achievement, such as IEA's Second IMS in 1980, and the third, TIMSS, in mid-1990, with a science component added, had consistently revealed the same performance gap between the United States (and other Western countries, such as Germany and Britain) and their counterparts in these East Asian Countries. These large quantitative studies had led researchers to conduct smaller scale research involving qualitative approaches, such as interviews and observation of classroom teaching starting from the early 1980s, for instance, research led by Stevenson and his associates that attempted to identify the contextual factors contributing to the achievement gap. In most cross-cultural comparative studies in education, mathematics and science have been the focus not only because they are more measurable subject areas across different educational systems with different instructional languages but also because they are believed to play more important roles in determining the quality of future work forces for national economic development for the twenty-first century. Given the availability of existing research and space limitation, in this brief review, we refer the Eastern countries to those heavily influenced by Confucian Heritage Culture (CHC)1, such as China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore and Western countries mainly to the United States, Germany, Britain and France.


Mathematics Teacher Classroom Teaching Curriculum Material East Asian Country Lesson Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanping Fang
    • 1
  • S. Gopinathan
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Research in Pedagogies and Practices, National Institute of EducationNanyang Technological UniversitySingapore

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