Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Agricultural Education and Studies

First Advisor

Bert Lynn Jones


Professional technical skills (technical skills) and professional practical skills (practical skills) are two kinds of education that are often discussed in terms of technical knowledge and life skills respectively. The acquisition of both technical and practical skills not only is the outcome of education, but also is required by a market economy. However, Chinese rural students are not provided practical skills under the traditional exam-oriented educational system. This study argues to build the educational infrastructure in rural China to provide both kinds of skills to improve the quality of its rural human resources;The purpose of this study is to investigate the feasibility of providing practical skills and technical skills education to rural elementary school students under the exam-oriented education philosophy, and then to make recommendation regarding the design for appropriate educational programs. The researcher used a descriptive design, including both qualitative and quantitative research methods, to investigate the enablers and barriers to providing both technical and practical skills education to rural elementary school students in Zhejiang, China. Specifically, the researcher conducted focus groups and survey with rural elementary school teachers, students, and the students' parents. The data indicated three enablers, which are: (1) teachers and parents overwhelmingly agreed on the importance of providing practical skills education to rural elementary school students; (2) teachers and parents showed their willingness to participate in the study and potential subsequent projects aimed toward building the infrastructure for practical skills education; and (3) students would enjoy learning practical skills together with technical skills because of their preference on the learning practice that is informed by the educational theory that supports the providing of both skills. However, the data also revealed three barriers to this process: (1) the traditional exam-oriented educational philosophy in China; (2) only schools are responsible for providing education; and (3) financial issues. The researcher also recognized a lack of effective communication between the schools and the families. In the end, the researcher recommended setting up a cooperative education system to provide nonformal educational programs, such as 4-H-type programs, based on an experiential theoretical base and the it takes a village Philosophy;



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Difei Shen



Proquest ID


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File Size

147 pages