Experimentalism and educational measurement: Complementary contributions of Dewey and McCall to the New Intellectual Movement in China

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Educational Research

First Committee Member

Richard H. Williams - Committee Chair


This study examined the contributions of John Dewey and William A. McCall to the New Intellectual Movement in China (1917-1923), focusing on the philosophy of experimentalism and the science of educational measurement as tools for educational reform. Their roles and contributions were investigated as links in a chain of occurrences by which Dewey's philosophy of experimentalism materialized through the endeavors of McCall, the Chinese National Association for the Advancement of Education, and the Chinese educational leaders who were formerly Dewey's students.Isolated for centuries and ruled by ancient dynasties, China began to experience intensive cultural and political transformation in the early 1900's. During this period, some of the Chinese students sent abroad to study enrolled in Teachers College, Columbia University. There they met Dewey, a professor of philosophy whose ideas on education and politics generated a profound interest among his Chinese students. On completing their education, many of these Chinese students returned to key positions in major educational institutions in China, where social conditions increased their desire to apply Dewey's ideas in education as a step toward political reform.Invited by these former students, Dewey traveled to China in 1919 to introduce and promote the philosophy of experimentalism as a vehicle for social reform. Central to this philosophy was the gradual assessment of issues by collecting data and the development of a scientific attitude. Furthermore, this philosophy advocated educational reform as the initial step to political reform.Dewey's lecture series on experimentalism paved the way for McCall's subsequent visit and work in China (1922-1923), sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Education. As a measurement and research specialist, McCall provided the expertise required for educational reform. McCall and his Chinese colleagues conducted numerous projects such as a measurement program for collecting data in the Chinese school system and the construction, scaling and standardization of instruments. These activities led to numerous publications.Connections were identified in the chain of events examined, linking Dewey's philosophy to McCall's research efforts which led to educational reform in China.


Education, Tests and Measurements; Biography; History, Asia, Australia and Oceania; Education, History of; Education, Philosophy of

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