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Dr. Xianxuan Xu visits Yunnan Normal University

Addressing equal opportunities for at-risk students

Xianxuan Xu, Ph.D.Dr. Xianxuan Xu has been invited by a Chinese scholar program ("Chunhui Project") to visit Yunnan Normal University, Yunnan Province, China, in April. Xianxuan will be giving lectures to the faculty, undergraduate students, and graduate students on topics of teacher effectiveness, teacher evaluation, and educational issues of at-risk/highly-mobile students. A partial purpose of Xianxuan's trip to Yunnan Normal is to promote the partnership between the College of William and Mary and Yunnan Normal University.

In 2010, the School of Education, at the College of William and Mary, and the College of Education, at Yunnan Normal University, initiated an academic partnership. The purpose of this partnership is to promote faculty research and scholarship. Since then, we have sent a number of faculty members to each other's institution to teach, lecture, perform research, and advise students. Currently, Drs. James Stronge and Pat Popp at William and Mary are collaborating with Drs. Yaling Sun and Minghong Fu from Yunnan Normal University on a research project that investigates best schooling practices to serve at-risk/highly mobile students.

The purpose of Xianxuan's trip is to support this research project, through giving presentations to their faculty and students and investigating the desired direction for pursuing a joint research project. In China, a country oftentimes deemed as characterized by homogeneity, Yunnan is culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse area. Yunnan Province has 15 ethnic minority groups who live across the border between Yunan and the neighboring south Asian countries, such as Burma, Laos, and Vietnam, who account for about 35% of the total population in Yunnan. Yunnan has been lagging behind the east coast of China in terms of socio-economic development. In addition, the minority students live disproportionately in rural, remote, and underdeveloped areas.

Yunnan is facing the same challenge as the United States in educating its most underprivileged students—students who are at-risk and/or highly mobile. For the last two decades, the educational system in both Yunnan and the United States has taken initiatives to ensure equal educational opportunities to these students.  A research partnership between the Yunnan Normal University and the School of Education at the College of  William and Mary will shed new light on this important issue.

Xianxuan Xu received her doctorate from the College of William and Mary's Educational Policy, Planning, and Leadership Program in 2011.  Currently, Xianxuan is working with Dr. James Stronge as a post-doctoral research associate for a state-wide teacher evaluation project which is funded by the Virginia Department of Education and based at the College of William and Mary.