Education Improvement Promoting Human Capabilities Development in Post-Neoliberal Period

A special issue of Education Sciences (ISSN 2227-7102).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 June 2023) | Viewed by 24997

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Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
School of Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
Interests: critical and social theory; educational opportunity; educational policy; history
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Interests: history of American public education; educational policy study
College of Education and Human Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS 39406, USA
Interests: education; linguistics; ability; technology; communication

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Guest Editor
Department of Counseling and Higher Education, Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701, USA
Interests: higher education policy; economics of education; education finance; comparative and international higher education
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Faculty of Education, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China
Interests: history of american public education; educational policy study
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

During the neoliberal global period, nations pursued common agendas to adapt to global economic and education competition, market forces, and education for the uplift and support of democratic institutions. Once promoted by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and international trade alliances, these themes have realigned economic and political alliances within and across nations with both developed and developing economies. In this context of shifting economic and political priorities and persistent class inequalities, even in democratic nations, education reforms should aim to build human capabilities, ensure the sustainability of populations in less-developed countries, sustain the contribution of education to evolved societies, and ensure financial wellbeing for marginalized citizens in developed economies.

The papers in this volume focus on addressing the contemporary challenges of educational improvement and promoting capabilities development across contexts. The articles address these challenges in China, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, compare developed and developing nations, and examine the policies and programs expanding educational opportunities. Using case studies and analyses of extant databases, the authors provide examples of using information systems and qualitative research to support the dual, competing aims of improving systems and improving program delivery to expand opportunities.

Prof. Dr. Edward P. St. John
Dr. Luxi Chen
Dr. Zachary Taylor
Dr. Lijing Yang
Prof. Dr. Chen Wang
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • education attainment
  • education inequality
  • education policy
  • education statistics
  • economic globalization
  • future of tertiary education
  • neoliberal
  • social action
  • social capital
  • sustainability

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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3 pages, 164 KiB  
Editorial
Human Capabilities in this Post-Neoliberal Period: A Summative Editorial
by Edward P. St. John
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(11), 1108; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13111108 - 03 Nov 2023
Viewed by 469
Abstract
As Professor Wang Chen noted in the introduction, this Special Issue was conceptualized after conversations concerning the prospect of an international center focused on “education development and social justice [...] Full article

Research

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20 pages, 269 KiB  
Article
Individualized and Innovation-Centered General Education in a Chinese STEM University
by Xu Li and Yuan Li
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(8), 846; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13080846 - 19 Aug 2023
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1498
Abstract
The concept and practice of general education have been widely discussed and debated in the Euro-American world, but its adaptation in China needs further discussion and understanding. Over the past decade, its impact on Chinese higher education is increasingly salient, with a large [...] Read more.
The concept and practice of general education have been widely discussed and debated in the Euro-American world, but its adaptation in China needs further discussion and understanding. Over the past decade, its impact on Chinese higher education is increasingly salient, with a large number of Chinese first-tier universities claiming to initiate general education reforms to their previously narrowly focused undergraduate programs. This paper explores the development, implementation, and support of general education in a new type of research university in China from an organizational perspective. Through a case study of the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper examines SUSTech’s individualized and innovation-based general education system, highlighting its institution-wide approach and innovation-centered perspective. The findings underscore the importance of integrating general education principles throughout the university to foster self-directed thinkers and cultivate students’ self-awareness, interests, and passions. This study also reveals how general education is used as an organizational solution to address a variety of historical and complicated issues that challenge Chinese universities. This research serves as a catalyst for reform and innovation in Chinese higher education, inspiring transformative practices that meet the evolving needs of students and society. Full article
16 pages, 1056 KiB  
Article
Research on the Development of Equitable Education in China from the Human Capability Perspective
by Mingmei Li, Min Liu, Hejia Wang, Xiaohan Hong and Chen Wang
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(7), 738; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13070738 - 19 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1250
Abstract
“Capability” is an important conceptual tool for addressing educational inequity (EI). This paper analyzes the existing limitations of developing educational equity in China from the human capital perspective and proposes the human capability approach as a way to improve it. This paper begins [...] Read more.
“Capability” is an important conceptual tool for addressing educational inequity (EI). This paper analyzes the existing limitations of developing educational equity in China from the human capital perspective and proposes the human capability approach as a way to improve it. This paper begins by a policy review on China’s education equity measures, revealing a troubling emphasis on resources allocation and a “top-down” governance. In response, we propose an actionable research approach as a means to improve multi-stakeholder collaboration in educational equity reform and to further the development of student capabilities. The study also presents a case study to illustrate the process of using “capability” and actionable research methods to promote educational equity, demonstrating the necessity and effectiveness. We also note that education inequality is a delicate and complicated topic that requires joint, flexible and innovative efforts. Full article
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30 pages, 2968 KiB  
Article
Public Investment in Short-Cycle Tertiary Vocational Education: Historical, Longitudinal, and Fixed-Effects Analyses of Developed and Less-Developed Countries
by Lijing Yang and Edward Patrick St. John
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(6), 573; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13060573 - 01 Jun 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1906
Abstract
We use three analytic steps to examine public investment in short-cycle tertiary education. First, reviewing the historical development, the literature reveals that national and regional policies on educational development emphasized bachelor’s programs in vocational education in the early twenty-first century, especially in the [...] Read more.
We use three analytic steps to examine public investment in short-cycle tertiary education. First, reviewing the historical development, the literature reveals that national and regional policies on educational development emphasized bachelor’s programs in vocational education in the early twenty-first century, especially in the EU. This historical background informs the longitudinal trend analysis in the second step of the educational and public investment variables (2000–2018) in our econometric analysis. The combined descriptive studies illuminate competitive advantages for EU and ASEAN nations in networks emphasizing open economic and academic exchange. Third, the fixed-effects analysis indicates a higher level of investment in general tertiary education per student, associated with a lower enrollment level in short-cycle vocational and technical tertiary programs. Using insights from this three-step process, we explore the implications of a nation’s capacity to invest in short-cycle tertiary programs as part of economic development and the pursuit of social equity within and across countries. Specifically, we conclude that short-cycle programs are a step toward integrating vocational education into programs in polytechnics and other higher education institutions. Full article
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15 pages, 506 KiB  
Article
Say Yes to Education—Buffalo: A Human Capabilities Approach to College Access and Local Economic Development
by Nathan J. Daun-Barnett
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(5), 472; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050472 - 04 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1061
Abstract
In December 2012, researchers from the University at Buffalo partnered with Buffalo Public Schools and Say Yes to Education—Buffalo to assist students and families with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The community had just announced a last-dollar tuition guarantee for [...] Read more.
In December 2012, researchers from the University at Buffalo partnered with Buffalo Public Schools and Say Yes to Education—Buffalo to assist students and families with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The community had just announced a last-dollar tuition guarantee for all public and charter high school graduates. Students had to apply for federal and state financial aid to be eligible. We use the human capabilities framework described by St. John to examine the contributions of this specific intervention and the broader collective impact strategy. In this study, we employ difference-in-difference regression analysis to examine the effects of a FAFSA completion intervention and find that providing support to students and families to complete the financial aid process increased FAFSA completion rates by more than 60%, year over year. In addition to considering the outcomes of this intervention, we report lessons learned in the process of establishing a university-community collaboration to improve postsecondary opportunity and economic development. We find that effective collaboration takes time and a shared commitment to understanding and addressing problems of practice in schools. Full article
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12 pages, 263 KiB  
Article
Using Big Data for Educational Decisions: Lessons from the Literature for Developing Nations
by Zach W. Taylor, Chelseaia Charran and Joshua Childs
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(5), 439; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050439 - 25 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1574
Abstract
Educational leaders from developing countries may be tasked with using big data to help inform educational decisions. Although many researchers have explored how to use big data or datasets to help solve educational problems, few studies have articulated how educational researchers and leaders [...] Read more.
Educational leaders from developing countries may be tasked with using big data to help inform educational decisions. Although many researchers have explored how to use big data or datasets to help solve educational problems, few studies have articulated how educational researchers and leaders from developing nations can use big data to make educational decisions. This study provides a literature review and takes a position to help educational leaders from developing nations use big data to make educational decisions and understand the strengths and weaknesses of using data to drive decision making. Moreover, this study addresses how datasets may be limited and how educational leaders can understand these limitations when using big data. Full article
21 pages, 291 KiB  
Article
A Human Capability Perspective on the Progression of Low-SES Students to Higher Education in Ireland and the UK
by Cliona Hannon
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(4), 409; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040409 - 18 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1580
Abstract
This article focuses on targeted programs for low-SES students in two selective universities: Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland (Trinity Access Programmes/TAP) and the University of Oxford, UK (Lady Margaret Hall Foundation Year/LMH FY). The programs were collaborative developments, as examples [...] Read more.
This article focuses on targeted programs for low-SES students in two selective universities: Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Ireland (Trinity Access Programmes/TAP) and the University of Oxford, UK (Lady Margaret Hall Foundation Year/LMH FY). The programs were collaborative developments, as examples of the potential of learning and adaptation across geographical contexts. It poses two questions: (a) How did the admissions processes in both universities change to target low-SES students? (b) How do social and academic support services for low-SES students, provided by two universities, contribute to the development of student capabilities? The article draws on the capability approach as the evaluative lens used to explore the two programs. Findings indicate (a) innovative approaches to socio-economic assessment in both programs, resulting in effective targeting of low-SES students, (b) the scaling of the programs beyond their initial remit and (c) the emergence of specific student capabilities through their engagement in the programs. Full article
13 pages, 283 KiB  
Article
Building Equitable Education Datasets for Developing Nations: Equity-Minded Data Collection and Disaggregation to Improve Schools, Districts, and Communities
by Z. W. Taylor, Jase Kugiya, Chelseaia Charran and Joshua Childs
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(4), 348; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13040348 - 28 Mar 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1235
Abstract
Many studies of education engage with large datasets to attempt to solve educational problems. However, no studies have provided a systematic overview of how large datasets could be compiled with an eye toward solving educational problems related to equity, especially as it relates [...] Read more.
Many studies of education engage with large datasets to attempt to solve educational problems. However, no studies have provided a systematic overview of how large datasets could be compiled with an eye toward solving educational problems related to equity, especially as it relates to racial, gender, and socioeconomic equity. This study provides a synthesis of literature and recommendations for how developing nations can learn from peers and collect, disaggregate, and analyze data in ways that promote equity, thus improving schools, school districts, and communities. Full article
11 pages, 259 KiB  
Article
Does Pre-Service Teacher Preparation Affect Students’ Academic Performance? Evidence from China
by Xinqiao Liu, Wenjuan Gao and Luxi Chen
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(1), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13010069 - 10 Jan 2023
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 12095
Abstract
Pre-service teacher preparation (PSTP) is generally considered a significant predictor of student achievements. This paper adopted a multi-tier linear model to estimate the PSTP effects on student performance by taking teachers and students in the high schools of Haidian District, Beijing, China, as [...] Read more.
Pre-service teacher preparation (PSTP) is generally considered a significant predictor of student achievements. This paper adopted a multi-tier linear model to estimate the PSTP effects on student performance by taking teachers and students in the high schools of Haidian District, Beijing, China, as the research population. It used exploratory factor analysis to classify PSTP into two categories: content knowledge preparation and pedagogical content knowledge preparation; and described the status of PSTP in three subjects: Chinese, mathematics, and chemistry. The study found differences in PSTP by subject. In Chinese, teachers’ content knowledge preparation significantly negatively affected student performance, and their pedagogical content knowledge preparation significantly positively influenced student performance. In mathematics, PSTP had no significant effect on student performance. In chemistry, teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge preparation had a significantly negative effect on student performance. Based on the findings of the empirical study, the study proposes further identifying PSTP’s role in student performance by subject, strengthening the focus on pre-service preparation skills in recruiting Chinese and chemistry teachers, and developing a more suitable system for teacher selection and training. Full article

Other

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18 pages, 333 KiB  
Essay
Higher Education in Post-Neoliberal Times: Building Human Capabilities in the Emergent Period of Uncertainty
by Edward P. St. John
Educ. Sci. 2023, 13(5), 500; https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci13050500 - 16 May 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1233
Abstract
This paper argues that the neoliberal consensus about education finance has broken down due to growing economic inequality. First, I use a comparative historical analysis of political alliances to examine patterns of world trade and nations’ policies for economic and educational development since [...] Read more.
This paper argues that the neoliberal consensus about education finance has broken down due to growing economic inequality. First, I use a comparative historical analysis of political alliances to examine patterns of world trade and nations’ policies for economic and educational development since World War II. The United States emphasized STEM-collegiate preparation for all students, while most countries continued the dual emphasis on technical-tertiary and higher education. Educational policy in the US and Pacific region also shifted towards a reliance on markets and student loans resulting in worsening economic inequality in access. Nations with dual technical and academic pathways in secondary and postsecondary education systems expand college enrollment rates more rapidly than the US. They also experience class conflict between the working–middle class and the new technological elite. Next, I examine how education policy shifted from national planning aligned with public funding to market-based incentives for institutional development, further exposing gaps in opportunity within nations. Finally, recognizing the variations in systemic causes of inequality, I argue that governments, education agencies, and civic activists can best promote equity by organizing to address barriers to opportunity for groups left behind in the wake of withering neoliberal education policy. Full article
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