Projects

Bridging Cultures US/China Program
The Bridging Cultures: US/China Program that I founded at Mount St. Mary’s College, Los Angeles, has brought 10 visiting scholars to the college from Nanjing University to share their cultural knowledge with students, faculty, and staff. Begun in 2001, the visiting scholars program has been co-sponsored with the Asian and Pacific Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University since 2004. The Bridging Cultures Program also pairs Mount St. Mary’s students with Chinese students for a semester of conversation via email, and it has laid the groundwork for the college’s first student exchange program with China. It also provided the foundation for the recently funded National Endowment for the Humanities grant, Women & China: Internationalizing the Humanities and Professional Studies, for faculty to deepen their knowledge about China.

History of Literacy Teaching of Young Children in China
Two years ago my research partner in Beijing, Yu Zhenyou, and I agreed to write a book chapter on the history of literacy learning of young children in China. History was not our specialty, but we knew we would learn a lot related to our work in transforming literacy instruction. Well, yes, we learned a lot, and we spent about four times more hours than we expected learning and digging into materials. However, our knowledge gain was invaluable. The chapter, “The History of Early Childhood Literacy in China,” comes out in late 2012 in Perspectives on Teaching and Learning Chinese Literacy in China, edited by C. B. Leung and J. Ruan.

Rural Elementary School Teaching
2010 produced my most recent visit to observe and record classroom lessons in rural China. Back in An Shang Village where I have spent several months, I observed lessons of teachers working to implement the new, student-centered curriculum of China, and had discussions with parents and teachers. The teachers became so engaged in discussing new techniques and how to make them work that we were all very late for dinner. Some of their questions and struggles are in Educating Young Giants. Others are part of on-going research.

Research on Preschool Literacy Development
Yu Zhenyou, my research partner at China Women’s University, and I have studied effective means for literacy development in preschools in China. In a beginning study we examined interactions of teachers and children to understand how teachers influence children’s interest and involvement in reading. We found that the teachers focused on factual details in the books while the children learned best when they were encouraged to predict what happened next in the story, talk about what they thought, or speculate about characters and events. We are currently looking into how children’s names become aids to their literacy learning. Emergent Literacy (pdf)    Child Book Activities (pdf)

How Chinese Children Learn to Write and Remember Characters
Although fairly old, a study completed in 2003 continues to draw interest. My Chinese colleagues and I interviewed 30 primary grade children in China to discover how they learn and remember characters in their early years of literacy development. The process is, of course, quite different from the way children in Western countries learn. The Chinese children usually used the shape of characters or parts of characters to remember them, and seldom drew on the limited phonetic information found in characters. The paper reporting the results also includes a description of how Chinese writing is taught. Full Article (pdf file)