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Engineering Education Policymaking in a Cross-National Context: A Critical Analysis of Engineering Education Accreditation in China

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Engineering as a Professional Calling

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.497.1 - 24.497.17



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Paper Authors


Qin Zhu Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Qin Zhu is a PhD student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. His main research interests include global/comparative/international engineering education, engineering education policy, and engineering ethics. He received his BS degree in material sciences and engineering and first PhD degree in philosophy of science and technology (engineering ethics) both from Dalian University of Technology, China. His first PhD dissertation on improving the practical effectiveness of engineering ethics that draws on theories in hermeneutics, practical philosophy, and discourse ethics has recently been awarded the "Outstanding Dissertation Award" in Liaoning Province, China.

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Brent K Jesiek Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Brent K. Jesiek is Assistant Professor in the Schools of Engineering Education and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He is also an Associate Director of Purdue's Global Engineering Program, leads the Global Engineering Education Collaboratory (GEEC) research group, and is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award to study boundary-spanning roles and competencies among early career engineers. He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Michigan Tech and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech. Dr. Jesiek draws on expertise from engineering, computing, and the social sciences to advance understanding of geographic, disciplinary, and historical variations in engineering education and professional practice.

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Jian Yuan Beihang University

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Jian YUAN is a Ph.D. Candidate at Beihang University, Beijing, China. He received his M.S. in Education from Northeast Normal University in 2011. Jian’s academic and research interests include engineering education, global engineering competency, engineering leadership, and service learning. From August 2013 to August 2014 he is a visiting graduate student scholar in Purdue's School of Engineering Education, working closely with Prof. Brent Jesiek and his GEEC research group.

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Engineering Education Policymaking in Cross-National Context: A Critical Analysis of Engineering Education Accreditation in ChinaAbstract: In creating policies that support educating future engineers to meet both domesticneeds and enable global mobility, a major strategy used by Chinese policymakers is “policyborrowing.” Yet one major challenge with this approach is that Chinese policymakers have notdeeply reflected on the cultural differences between China and the countries from which they areborrowing policy. This paper examines a particular aspect of engineering education in China –namely engineering education accreditation – and interrogates China’s overly pragmaticapproach in developing and implementing accreditation policies. This paper argues thathistorically this pragmatic approach is best understood in relation to influences from bothConfucianism and Chinese Marxism. Additionally, we observe that the pragmatic approachshaped the policymaking process in two ways. First, given the lack of a pre-existing accreditationmodel, the pragmatic approach served as the basis for the decision to adopt ABET’saccreditation framework as an actionable “startup template,” but without fully challengingABET’s fundamental ideas, concepts, and assumptions. Second, by comparing policydocuments, reports, and commentaries released by CEEAA (Chinese Engineering EducationAccreditation Association), ABET, and other related agencies in the United States and China,this paper shows that the pragmatic approach was employed by Chinese policymakers as thebasis for making a series of “revisions” to the ABET accreditation process to ensure that theresulting policies are aligned with socialist ideology. The rationale for these revisions is alsodiscussed, including how they are justified from a socialist ideological perspective. Drawing oncritical theories of education and related methods of studying comparative education policyissues, this paper also points out some important limitations or weaknesses in China’s pragmaticapproach, such as intercollegiate inequalities, tensions between ideological education andprofessional education, and challenges to autonomous accrediting. The paper closes with somepolicy recommendations, including a discussion of historical-cultural factors most salient forengineering education policymaking in the Chinese context, including accreditation and otherthemes. The main audience for this paper includes engineering educators and engineering studiesscholars interested in comparative educational research, engineering education policymaking,and current trends in Chinese engineering education.Keywords: engineering education; policy; policymaking; culture; accreditation; ideology;comparative education research; internationalization

Zhu, Q., & Jesiek, B. K., & Yuan, J. (2014, June), Engineering Education Policymaking in a Cross-National Context: A Critical Analysis of Engineering Education Accreditation in China Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20388

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