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A hermeneutic inquiry into the meaning of curriculum change Open Access


Other title
teacher identity
curriculum reform
curriculum interpretation
interpretive study
cross-cultural curriculum conversation
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Guo, Linyuan
Supervisor and department
Carson, Terrance R. (Secondary Education)
Richardson, George H. (Secondary Education)
Paul, W. James (Faculty of Education, University of Calgary)
Examining committee member and department
Zhang, Hua (Curriculum & Instruction, East China Normal University)
Brook, Paula A. (Educational Policy Studies)
Barker, Susan (Secondary Education)
Department of Secondary Education

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
China, the developing country with the largest and oldest public education system, is transforming its education system through a large-scale curriculum reform. The new national curriculum marks a dramatic change in the underlying educational philosophy and practices, which, in turn, have deep cultural and historical roots in Chinese society. During this system-wide curricular change, Chinese teachers find themselves, more or less, situated in an ambivalent space. That is, most teachers know of the curricular change, but they are uncertain about the meaning of the change and have some resistances borne out of the experiences of loss and challenges to their teacher identities. This study investigates what this massive curriculum reform means for Chinese teachers by grounding an enquiry in in-depth conversations with six teachers in Western China. An interpretation of these conversations reveals the complex dimensions of teachers’ compliance and/or resistance with respect to change at a time when the Chinese curriculum landscape is shifting dramatically from a local to global perspective. Hermeneutics is employed as the research approach in this study because it attends to the humanness and interpretive nature of the participants’ living through curriculum change and it offers important insights to the deeply inter-subjective nature of teachers’ learning and unlearning. New understandings of teachers’ identity transformation, cross-cultural curriculum conversations, and the psychic and social dynamics of teachers' learning are presented in this study. New discourses for enhancing cross-cultural understandings in curriculum studies and international development are also suggested. This study addresses an absence of research on education change and curriculum theories and serves as an example of engaging curriculum as a transnational conversation between East Asian and Western contexts.
License granted by Linyuan Guo ( on 2009-07-05T16:14:49Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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File title: University of Alberta
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