Analysis of Biology Programs in China and the US

BSCS collaborated with Beijing Normal University in the Peoples Republic of China to analyze and compare secondary biology programs in China and the U.S. The project aimed to learn more about common and unique characteristics of the Chinese and U.S. science education and curriculum materials. Both China and the U.S. have developed and adopted national content standards for science. This project examined the influence of the national standards on the biology content included in textbooks.

Diverse Strengths

United States

  • More "second chances" throughout the science education system
  • Greater flexibility and innovation
  • More use of inquiry and laboratory
  • Greater emphasis on biology and Earth science at high school level

China

  • All curriculum materials meet national standards
  • Clear alignment between curriculum materials and instruction
  • Emphasis on mastery of basic concepts
  • Strong work ethic among students

Diverse Challenges

United States

  • Uneven and repetitive curriculum
  • Adherence to diverse state standards rather than national standards
  • Basic concepts not taught to mastery
  • Lack of alignment between instruction and accountability

China

  • Pedagogy dominated by teacher-to-student lectures
  • Lack of independent thinking by students
  • Examination-driven science education system provides little choice or "second chances"
  • Large gap between education in urban and rural areas

Research focused on similarities and differences in the two countries regarding school systems, national standards for life science, the life science content included in curriculum materials, and the coherence of the way the content is structured. The project was funded by the Office of Science Education at the National Institutes of Health as a first step in learning more about the common and unique characteristics of the Chinese and U.S. science education and curriculum materials.

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