2012 Student-Faculty Fellows Program Report: Benedictine College

Individual Student Research Projects Based in Beijing

Mentor: Professor Steven Day Students: Adam Baldocchi, Kathleen Thomas

Benedictine Team in Beijing

Project Abstracts

Mr. Adam Baldocchi and Ms. Kathleen Thomas spent twenty-five days in Beijing with their faculty mentor. Adam’s project focused upon the marriage market in Beijing and upon university students’ attitudes toward marriage. Kathleen’s research focused upon the attitudes of university students toward the gaokao, the national college entrance examination, and on the influence this examination has on individuality in reform-era China.

Adam Baldocchi

My research was two-fold. First, I focused upon marriage markets in Beijing (note, one finds them in other large cities such as Shanghai and Xi’an as well) that are found in Gongshan and other public parks. On Thursdays and Sundays, generally from 1:00 to 5:00 P.M., up to 1000 parents of unmarried children who are in their 20’s, 30’s and even to their mid-40’s meet in order to network with other parents who have unwed children in an effort to become matchmakers. Some come with descriptions of the ideal mate they seek for their child that specify the height and weight of such an individual, establish whether an individual is stable and adequately employed, and whether they have established a suitable residence. I found parents somewhat unwilling to discuss these issues with me, and as a consequence, much of what I discovered was only observational and anecdotal. My findings suggest that these matchmakers are seldom successful especially when trying to find matches for older children. My other research was conducted on the campuses of seven different universities in Beijing by conducting surveys of over 400 students to ascertain their views on marriage and love. Preliminary results suggest that men and women tend to agree on many facets of love and marriage, but suggest that women are significantly more focused on the importance of love in marriage than are men. Men believed that providing for the family and one’s spouse was the most important aspect of marriage and indicated that they would delay marriage until they could accomplish this. Both men and women indicated that they would not go against their parents’ wishes in choosing a marriage partner.

Kathleen Thomas

My research in Beijing during the summer of 2012 was the culmination of a year-long experience in China which began with two semesters of language study in Nanjing. It focuses upon perceptions of the National Higher Education Entrance Examination (NHEEE) held by university students, especially their views upon the impact preparing for the examination has on a person’s individuality. I also compared differing views of the examination held by Beijing residents in comparison with non-resident students. With the help of an interpreter, I completed 183 surveys and conducted twelve interviews on eight different university campuses. The surveys show that 63.3% of responding subjects believed the exam emphasizes the importance of conformity in Chinese society, and 56.1% believed it to be detrimental to creativity. Despite this, the research shows a positive perception of the NHEEE based on their view that the examination gave them better opportunities in life by making the university entrance process fairer. Views toward the examination differed little between Beijing and non-Beijing residents.