With a transition from a highly centralized planned economy to a decentralized market economy, Chinese higher education institutions are adapting and responding to the market change, yet at a relatively slower pace compared to the economic change. Evidence shows that work-related skills and abilities that are critical to the success in the new workplace are generally not well developed among Chinese college graduates. Skill mismatch is a problem in China, and this mismatch is detrimental to higher education institutions’ external efficiency.
This study examines college graduates’and their former instructors’ beliefs about work-related skill development in China. This study addresses two questions: (1) To what extent do instructors differ from graduates who are three years past graduation in the importance they assign to selected skills needed for graduates’ success in their post-graduate employment? And (2) To what extent do instructors and graduates who are three years past graduation differ in their assessment of how well college courses and extracurricular activities developed students with those selected skills?
The findings revealed that graduates and instructors agreed on the importance and the extent to which the university fostered the majority of selected skills. However, they disagreed on a few number of skills. Instructors rated English skills more important to post-graduate employment than graduates, while graduates rated leadership skills more importantly than instructors. Instructors believed that college courses had developed oral communication skills to a greater extent than graduates, while graduates believed that the courses had developed their critical-thinking skills to a greater extent than instructors. Finally, instructors believed the college had developed computer and English skills to a greater extent than graduates.
The findings are important for curriculum and instruction in Chinese higher education. For future improvement, higher education institutions need to strengthen the academia-industry link, align curriculum content and instruction with market needs, encourage the participation in extracurricular activities, integrate research into the skill development agenda, as well as to attend to faculty’s own values and approaches toward the changing demand of skill development.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2011. Major: Educational Policy and Administration. Advisors: David W. Chapman, Joan G. DeJaeghere. 1 computer file (PDF) viii, 132 pages, appendices A-H.
Skill development in higher education:perspectives from recent college graduates and their instructors in China.
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