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Exploring the Special-grade Teachers’ Professional
Development at Chinese Schools

WANG, LEI (2020) Exploring the Special-grade Teachers’ Professional
Development at Chinese Schools.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

PDF - Accepted Version


This research aims to explore the special-grade teachers’ professional lives. Being a unique phenomenon in the Chinese context, the title of the special-grade teacher represents not only a high level of professionalism but also a top honour. With only a tiny proportion of the teacher population getting awarded the title, the specific group of teachers is of great research value, since studying them can help us better understand what makes such outstanding teachers.

The objectives of the research are to identify the key characteristics that they possess, demonstrate the external factors that influence their professional development, delineate their professional developmental paths and discuss the problems that they encounter after they become the special-grade teachers. Drawing on narrative inquiry, the research generates the findings based on the data analysis collected from face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 16 special-grade teachers and a range of documents.

In terms of the research findings, ten key characteristics of the special-grade teachers are identified, including showing care towards their students, maintaining positive relationship with students, applying student-centred teaching, and so on. Besides, ten external factors that influence the special-grade teachers’ professional development are revealed. They are divided into three types which are key individuals, critical incidents and environmental factors. Moreover, I find three professional developmental stages, the task-led, the transitional and the notion-led stages, of the special-grade teachers. Furthermore, I demonstrate four realistic problems that they experience, such as the excessive amount of work, the lack of professional support and so on.

This thesis concludes by making recommendations to the policy makers, practitioners and researchers in the areas of policy improvement and teacher education. Implication of this research can be applied not only to the work of the special-grade teachers, but also to a wider range of teachers.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 May 2022 13:30

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