The Determinants of Shadow Education in Math: A Comparative Study of Hong Kong and Shanghai

Open Access
Deng, Yunyi
Area of Honors:
Education and Public Policy
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Soo Yong Byun, Thesis Supervisor
  • Mindy L Kornhaber, Honors Advisor
  • shadow education
  • private tutoring
  • China
  • Shanghai
  • Hong Kong
Driven by the purpose of improving student academic performance, shadow education, known as the outside-school learning or private supplementary tutoring, has been a growing educational phenomenon all over the world. This study first drew on literature from other countries to identify drivers of demand and the scale of shadow education, as well as determinants. Then, this paper investigated the determinants of shadow education in Hong Kong and Shanghai by using the data from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009. The results of the logistic regression analysis showed that in Hong Kong, having higher family socioeconomic status (SES), higher student grade level, more positive attitude towards school, taking more math classes per week, having a higher math score, studying in a class with a greater student-teacher ratio were associated with an increased likelihood of participating in shadow education on math; while in Shanghai, having a higher index of family SES, living with two parents, keeping a positive attitude toward school, studying in classrooms with better disciplinary climate, having more math classes per week, obtaining a higher math score and studying in a class with a smaller student-teacher ratio, were associated with an increased likelihood. A comparison between determinants of Hong Kong and Shanghai suggested that the magnitudes in the relation of eight factors math tutoring were significantly different. These factors included family SES, living with two parents, student grade level, disciplinary climate, the number of math classes per week, math score, going to a public school, and student-teacher ratio. The current study discusses on social and economic implications of the findings by highlighting traditional Chinese values, the National College Entrance Exam, and other related educational phenomena in the Chinese societies.