From academic burden reduction to quality education : a case study of students' and parents' perceptions and experiences under the double-reduction policy in China

  • Tao XU

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis (Lingnan)


Research confirms the debilitating effect of academic stress on Chinese students. Excessive academic stress not only causes physical and mental problems for students but also affects the overall development of their abilities and literacy. This form of stress also exacerbates social problems, such as increased educational involution and deteriorating parent–child relationships. Therefore, the Chinese government has introduced the Double-Reduction Policy in 2021 to reduce the academic burden and out-of-school trainings for students in compulsory education. This study aims to explore high school students’ perceptions and experiences related to this policy and provide implications for its improvement. To this end, this paper examines junior high school students’ perceptions and experiences of changes under this policy by conducting a case study in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province. A mixed methods design is employed. A questionnaire survey is conducted to understand the students’ perceptions and feelings about the policy, and in-depth group interviews are organised to collect additional data on these students’ and their parents’ views. Results show that the Double-Reduction Policy somewhat reduces the academic burden of students. However, some students expressed mixed feelings about the policy, commenting that it did not reduce the pressures coming from their tests, competitions and parental expectations. Students’ learning status is either improved or impaired due to individual differences. Their problem-solving ability and creative thinking have both improved. However, some students show a decline in their academic performance due to their limited practice. Their independent learning abilities have increased due to changes in their learning methods. The extent of the academic burden reduction due to the policy also needs to be considered. Meanwhile, the parents observed that their children’s attitudes towards completing their homework have become positive as a result of the policy, but they were uncertain the quality of their homework. Some parents were worried about whether their children have actually mastered their school knowledge, whilst others thought that their children spend too much of their free time playing games and using electronic devices instead of studying. They had no idea who to ask for help with regard to their children’s education problems, so they demanded for schools to organise out-of-school trainings. Nevertheless, their relationship with their children was changed by the policy, and their financial pressures were reduced due to the prohibition of off-campus. The policy also introduced great challenges to family education. Parents started imposing higher requirements and more responsibilities on their children. Whilst the policy also created many benefits for students, some of them felt that their academic pressures have increased and that their learning status has slackened. They do not know who to ask for help in case they encounter study problems, and the pressure of competition in exams persists. Parents show different levels of confidence in the effectiveness of the policy. The main innovation of this study lies in its linking of academic burden reduction to the changes in students’ competency and spirit, which can help inform the development of a quality education system in China.
Date of Award8 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan University
SupervisorWeiyan XIONG (Supervisor)

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