Comparison of American and Chinese College Students’ Perception of Instructor Authority


  • Ting Li Miami University of Ohio, United States



perception of instructor authority, cross-cultural comparison, authority relation


Teacher authority has long been recognized as one of the critical factors that contribute to the formation of effective learning circumstances (Haywood-Metz, 2006). A survey was developed based on Dornbusch and Scott’s (1975) theoretical framework of distinction between formal authority and informal authority, named The Attitude towards College Instructor Authority (ACIA). By using this survey among Chinese and American students at an American University, the current study examines college students’ perception of instructor authority, including their preference of formal or informal authority, the valued elements in instructor professional competence, as well as the relation between instructor’s perceived demographic features and their authority power. The results indicate that overall students rely highly on instructors’ position-attached formal authority rather than professionally-oriented informal authority. Whereas there are culture-specified differences between Chinese and American college students’ valued dimension of instructors’ professional competence at the informal authority level. 

Author Biography

Ting Li, Miami University of Ohio, United States

Ting Li is a doctoral student at Miami University. Her research interests include policies on higher educational reform and cross-cultural comparison of assessment. She wants to thank Dr. Aimin Wang for his help on this project. 




How to Cite

Li, T. (2012). Comparison of American and Chinese College Students’ Perception of Instructor Authority. Journal of International Students, 2(1), 116–122.



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