Twelve short months ago, 13 students from Shanghai Normal University (SNU) first stepped onto Chapman University’s Orange campus. Once here, the SNU students joined the Attallah College of Educational Studies 2018 Ph.D. in Education incoming cohort, taking courses side-by-side their fellow US-based students.

SNU students and Dr. Dawn Hunter at SNU farewell party

SNU students and Dr. Dawn Hunter at Attallah College’s SNU farewell party

“This has been such a wonderful experience,” said Dr. Dawn Hunter, Director of the Ph.D. in Education program. “We have thoroughly enjoyed having the students here.”

This month, all 13 Chapman students returned home to their jobs and families in Shanghai, where they will complete their Ph.D. studies and research. The students will continue their studies remotely, and Attallah College Ph.D. faculty will visit the SNU campus for periods of in-person instruction.

“I learned a lot and I worked very hard,” said SNU Ph.D. student Yuan Yuan Zheng. “I feel proud of myself and thankful to my faculty advisor.”

Research Training and Cultural Immersion

During their intensive 12 months of study, the Ph.D. students from Shanghai learned research methodologies and techniques and began to formulate their doctoral dissertation proposals. To ensure their success in Attallah’s rigorous Ph.D. program, the students were also given supplement writing support as well as paired with local Ph.D. students and Chapman faculty and staff conversation partners.

In addition to their on-campus courses, the SNU students were given numerous opportunities to sharpen their English language skills and experience American culture and higher education.

SNU and Chapman staff hugging at SNU farewell party

SNU and Chapman staff at Attallah College’s SNU farewell party

Ph.D. student Haiyeng Meng was particularly impressed by diversity and inclusion initiatives at Chapman University and in the local K-12 schools they visited.

“I can feel how these two words represent higher education of America,” Haiyeng Meng said, and she plans to share this with her colleagues and students in China.

Last spring, the students also had the opportunity to take a research trip to Northern California. They traveled to the San Francisco area to attend and present at the annual meeting for the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), a global organization that brings together educational researchers and practitioners from around the world. While there, they also participated in the University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education Research Day.

“These 13 students have used every opportunity to deepen their knowledge,” said Dr. Margaret Grogan, Dean of Attallah College. “The improvement from the time they arrived until now is enormous because they worked so hard and have taken every opportunity that has been offered them.”

Continued Study and Program Timeline

Based on the timeline of the SNU and Chapman Ph.D. program partnership, these students will continue their studies and complete their doctoral research and theses over the next two years. Attallah College Ph.D. faculty will begin traveling to China to conduct two-week intensive courses in September 2019.