Chinese Students Are Excellent Critical Thinkers Until College, Study Finds

Chinese students have may have superior critical thinking skills than their American and Russian counterparts, but that advantage surprisingly falls during college, according to a recent study.

Poor teaching skills at Chinese universities are to blame for a lack of relationship building skills, identifying assumptions and testing hypotheses, New York Times noted.

The study, conducted by Stanford researchers, is planning to be published next year. Part of it is based on entrance exams given to 2,700 students at 11 mainland universities.

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In particular, college freshmen under computer science and engineering programs are found to have critical thinking skills two to three years ahead of their peers in Russia and the United States.

The findings can be surprising, since primary and secondary schools in China are known to value habitual memorization over creativity and critical thinking. All this is in preparation for the make-or-break national college entrance examination, also known as Gaokao.

So far, it supports earlier studies that showed Chinese students do better in math, reading and science.

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Unfortunately, critical thinking skills of Chinese students no longer improved after two years of college, the study said. Researchers attributed the lag to the poor quality of teaching in many universities.

Co-author Scott Rozelle said, “They don’t really flunk anyone. The contract is, if you got in here, you get out.”

It must also be noted that fake universities exist in China. Since 2013, at least 400 had been discovered by education website Sdaxue.com.

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The fixation may also be due to the students’ lack of motivation. Because schools place so much importance on the Gaokao, students are exhausted by the time they hit college.
One student said, “You get a degree whether you study or not, so why bother studying?”

Still, more Chinese students could still be looking forward to college, sporting more beautiful and handsome looks.

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