Students' perceptions of school climate in the U.S. and China

Chunyan Yang, George G Bear, Fang Fang Chen, Wei Zhang, Jessica C Blank, Xishan Huang
School Psychology Quarterly 2013, 28 (1): 7-24
Although the construct of student climate has been studied extensively in the United States, we know little about how school climate is perceived in other countries. With large class sizes yet higher academic achievement and less disruptive and aggressive student behaviors, schools in China present a contrast to many schools in the United States. Differences in school climate between the two countries were examined in this study. The sample consisted of 10,400 American and 3,435 Chinese students across three grade levels (elementary, middle, and high school) in 85 American and 22 Chinese schools. Factor structure and measurement invariance across countries were first established for the Modified-Delaware School Climate Survey-Student. Differences in latent means were then tested. Across all three grade levels Chinese students scored significantly higher than American students on all four subscales (Teacher-Student Relations, Student-Student Relations, School Liking, and Fairness of School Rules). Effects sizes tended to be smallest in elementary schools and largest in middle schools. Significant differences between American and Chinese students exist in their perceptions of school climate. It is likely that those differences can be attributed to cultural differences in respect of authority, academic and social values, self-regulation and peer-regulation of behaviors, and teachers' classroom management.

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