Exploring Chinese Faculty Perceptions of Quality Standards for Online Education

Exploring Chinese Faculty Perceptions of Quality Standards for Online Education

Dave Dai, John M. Dirkx
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0877-9.ch002
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This chapter explores how U.S. quality indicators for online education are perceived by Chinese online faculty. Thirty-one quality indicators from the U.S. literature were analyzed to develop a survey that was administered to 400 Chinese online faculty and their teaching assistants at a Chinese institution. The results indicate that U.S. quality indicators for online education are perceived by Chinese faculty as relevant and valuable. Based on responses to this survey, however, the U.S. based standards do not fully capture the essence of quality for online education because these indicators focus more on inputs rather than outcomes. The findings underscore the importance of the local settings in determining the characteristics of online education quality. Chinese scholars and administrators should not blindly adopt quality standards from other countries but use them as tools to help Chinese universities develop their own standards to improve quality of their online education programs.
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Online education faces a major challenge of how to widen access and reduce costs while at the same time ensuring quality (Mariasingam & Hanna, 2006; Parker, 2008; Shelton, 2011). Countries around the world are increasingly being confronted with this challenge but China represents a particular case in point with respect to providing more access to higher education. Chinese higher education has expanded greatly over the past two decades. In 1995, five million college students were enrolled in 1,000 post-secondary institutions. By 2010, 21 million college students were enrolled in 2,305 Chinese institutions (Jung, Wong, Li, Baigaltugs, & Belawati, 2011). Even the additional institutions, however, are still not able to meet the demand.

In the year 2000, the Chinese government initiated an educational experiment by granting 38 national universities rights to start online education programs. After a decade of development, online education has become a major component of Chinese higher education, with over three million students enrolled in online programs in 2010 (Jung et al., 2011). This expansion of online education in China, however, is not without serious challenges. Three years into the online education experiment, growing concern in China was expressed over the quality of these pilot online programs (Wu, 2006). Implementation of these programs raised questions about China’s efforts to increase access to higher education through online programs. As China expands its online education, concern for the quality of these programs has become a significant issue for their stakeholders. To comply with the external demands for accountability, institutions are feeling increasing pressure to improve the quality of online education.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Quality Assurance: The process engaged by institutions and programs to encourage best practices and achieve consistent results.

Online Education: A type of distance education. It utilizes computers and internet to conduct teaching and learning activities.

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