School climate includes factors that serve as conditions for learning, and support physical and emotional safety, connection, support and engagement, as the US Department of Education suggests. In this study published in School Psychology Quarterly, George Bear and colleagues examined how pupils in China and the US perceive school climate differently and how it relates to their engagement in schools.
A total of 3,716 Chinese pupils from 18 schools in Guangzhou and 4,085 American pupils from 15 schools in Delaware were compared in the study. All schools were suburban schools or urban schools. The sample of American pupils was randomly selected from a larger dataset consisting of 37,255 pupils prepared by the Delaware Department of Education to match the pupil numbers of the Chinese pupil sample. Pupils who participated in this study were from grades 3–5 (Years 4–6), 7–8 (Years 8–9), and 10–12 (Years 11–13). Grade 6 (Year 7) and grade 9 (Year 10) were excluded from this study since pupils in these two grades were placed in different levels in Chinese and American schools.
Pupils were compared in their perceptions of school climate, which included teacher-pupil relations, pupil-pupil relations, fairness of school rules, clarity of behavioural expectations, respect for diversity, school safety, engagement school-wide, and bullying school-wide. Pupils’ engagement was measured by the Delaware Student Engagement Scale. The findings showed:
- Chinese pupils perceived all aspects of school climate significantly more positively than American pupils during middle school and high (secondary) school.
- The difference was smaller in elementary (primary) schools, with no significant differences for fairness of rules, clarity of behavioural expectations and school safety.
- US pupils’ engagement was greater in elementary schools, while Chinese pupils reported greater emotional engagement in middle and high schools.
- A significant relation between school climate and engagement was found for American pupils but not Chinese pupils.
The authors suggest that the findings might encourage schools to develop and promote those social-emotional competencies, values and norms which have been shown to underlie the high academic achievement of Chinese pupils in addition to school climate.
Source: Differences in school climate and student engagement in China and the United States (June 2018), School Psychology Quarterly, Vol 33(2)