Investigating Chinese junior high school teachers' beliefs about the teaching of reading in a time of reform

  • Yibo XIONG

Student thesis: EdD Thesis


This thesis investigates junior high school teachers’ beliefs about the teaching of EFL reading in a second-tier city in China. In so doing, it seeks to shed light on where teachers’ beliefs come from in the first place, whether the teachers feel their beliefs are reflected in their classroom practices, and the extent to which their beliefs and practices appear to be congruent with recent educational reforms.
Based on Borg’s theoretical framework on teacher cognition (originally proposed in 2003; updated in 2015) and drawing on qualitative data generated from in-depth semi-structured interviews with nine junior high school teachers, ranging from novice to experienced teachers, and covering both rural and urban schools, the study presents an overall picture of the participant teachers’ beliefs and stated practices when teaching reading and their underlying rationales. The study reveals the sometimes contradictory and tense relationship between teachers’ beliefs and stated practices, arguing that this can be due to factors such as the particular Zeitgeist of their era, their prior learning experiences, their opportunities for continuing professional development, as well as several other contextual dimensions.
Based on its findings, the thesis concludes that the links between theory and practice in China’s teacher training programmes have not been made explicit enough. It proposes that in order to get more “buy-in” from teachers, China’s curriculum reforms around pedagogy need to be brought more in line with what teachers are taught during their pre and in-service training. It further suggests that curriculum reforms around reading pedagogy need to be better reflected in assessment practices with more joint cooperation between schools and finally, it is argued that teachers themselves need to become more critically aware of their own cognition processes.
Date of AwardOct 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Nottingham
SupervisorAnwei Feng (Supervisor) & Douglas Bell (Supervisor)


  • teachers’ beliefs
  • Chinese junior high schools
  • approaches to teaching
  • reading, teacher cognition
  • Zeitgeis
  • Chinese curriculum reforms
  • pre-service education
  • in-service

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