Associate Professor;
Graduate Advisor

Individual Research Interests

Professional learning, emotional work, workplace learning, social construction of skill, prior learning assessment and recognition; immigration and globalization, participatory action research
institutional ethnographic study

Research Supervision Interests

I am interested in supervising MA and PhD students working in the areas of professional learning, immigrant education, immigration and transnationalism,  gender and work, prior learning assessment and recognition, and other areas related to adult education and globalization.


I was born and raised in Mainland China and immigrated to Canada in my adult years. I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, and a wife, blessed with a warm, caring and extended family dispersed across three continents.

My individual research activities have focused on (im)migrants’ work, life, and learning experiences. I am not only interested in professional (im)migrants’ changing practices in an increasingly globalized work and life world, but also the social policies, “cultural” discourses and material processes that order and organize peoples’ changing subjectivities, identities, and experiences.

In the past seven years, I have presented and published in the fields of lifelong learning, workplace learning and change, emotion learning/work, community development, population health, digital divide, women and contingent work, and immigration and globalization.


OISE, University of Toronto , PhD

Research Projects

Doing “diversity” in practice: Immigrants and knowledge “transfer” in engineering and healthcare in Canada Current

SSHRC Insight
Principal investigator: Dr. Hongxia Shan
Co-investigators: Dr. Michelle Stack; Dr. Peter Wong and Dr. Thomas Tannert
Project consultants: Dr. Chris Campbell from Fraser Valley and Dr. Agnes d’Entremont, UBC

Focusing on engineering and healthcare, both knowledge intensive fields where immigration is a major source of workforce growth in Canada, the project is designed to explore, from multiple perspectives, immigrants’ KT practices, i.e., how immigrants bring forth their prior learning, or their ways of knowing, doing and being as they participate in shaping professional practices.

Expanding organizational capacity to afford professional learning: A study with immigrant services providers in the context of diversity work Current

SSHRC Engage Grant

Principal Investigator: Dr. Hongxia Shan
Co-investigator: Amy Cheng (Director, Strategic Initiatives and Integration)

The overall goal of the project is to expand the organizational capacity of a community-based organization to foster professional learning among its staff members in the context of diversity work, i.e., work that involves engagement with social and cultural differences.

The Hard Working Student: A Canadian Study Current
June, 2018May, 2021

SSHRC Insight Grant

Principle investigator: Dr. A. Taylor (UBC)
Co-investigator: Wolfgang Lehmann (U Western Ontario); Kiran Mirchandani (UofT); Milosh Raykov (U Malta); H Shan (UBC); Robert Sweet (Lakehead);

Knowledge transfer as an unfolding practice: A case study of a global health education partnership program Completed
June, 2016May, 2017

UBC Faculty of Education HSS Seed Grant

Principle investigator: H. Shan
Co-investigator: T. Sork

Learning as boundary crossing practice: an exploratory study of immigrants in the engineering profession in Canada Completed
June, 2014May, 2016

SSHRC Insight Development Grant

Principle Investigator: H. Shan,
Collaborators: Dr. John Jenness (Engineering) and Karen Sheehan (Nursing) from BCIT; Dr. Tannert Thomas (Civil Engineering) and Dr. Nashon Samson and Chris Campbell (Education) at UBC.

The study challenges the deficit construct of immigrants through a strength-based study of immigrants’ learning within professions. It explores how immigrants advance professionally, with particular attention paid to the roles that they play in the transfer, translation and transformation of knowledge and practices in the engineering profession in Canada. The objectives of the study are: 1) to understand the contributions that immigrants make to professional knowledge and practices and the conditioning of their knowledge and learning practices, 2) to inform workforce professionals with measures to better harness immigrants’ knowledge and skills for the social and economic development of Canada.

Constitution of transnational social space: Migrant women managing careers in sciences and engineering between China and Canada Completed
April, 2014April, 2014

Hampton Grant

Principal investigator: Dr. H. Shan
Co-investigators: Dr. John Jenness (Engineering) and Karen Sheehan (Nursing) from BCIT; Dr. Yueya Ding (Education) from National Academy of Education Administration, Beijing, PRC; Dr. Zhiwen Liu from South China Normal University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, PRC; and Dr. Tannert Thomas (Civil Engineering) and Dr. Nashon Samson (Education) at UBC.

The study asks three research questions: 1) how has transnational movement become a desirable option for women engineers and scientists? 2) how have the women managed their careers in the context of transnationalism? and 3) what social and institutional policies and practices have shaped the migration and settlement experiences and career trajectories of the women across places?

Cross-cultural learning for mentors: The unaccounted impacts of an immigrant workplace connection program Completed
March, 2013March, 2014

Principal investigator: Dr. H. Shan
Co-investigator: Dr. S. Butterwick

This study looks at the cross-cultural learning experiences of 18 mentors on an immigrant mentoring program in Vancouver.

Community Gardens as Third Space: Informal Learning and the Performance of Everyday Practices in Multicultural Spaces Completed
March, 2013March, 2014

HSS Grant

Principal investigator: Dr. P. Walter
Co-investigator: Dr. H. Shan

This study examines how transient migrants of diverse backgrounds learn to grow things and hybrid knowledge and practices in community gardens in Vancouver.

Selected Publications

Special issues edited

2017 -2018 Co-editor (with Dr. Linda Morrice, and Annet Sprung) of the special issue on “Migration, Adult Education and Learning” for Studies in the Education of Adult, Taylor & Francis (in progress).

2016 Co-editor (with Dr. Andreas Fejes from University of Linköping, Sweden) of the special issue on “Skill and Competency in the Age of Migration” for the Journal of Studies of Continuous Education, Taylor & Francis. 339 pgs.

Journal articles – Refereed

Shan, H. (2020). Knowledge ‘transfer’ as sociocultural and sociomaterial practice: Immigrants expanding engineering practices in Canada, European Journal for Research on the Education and Leanring of Adults. 11(3), 383-397.

Shan, H., Peikazadi, N., Rahemtulla, Z., Wilber, A., Sawkins, T. & Gossen, R. (2019). Entry to hospitality career for women and beyond: Immigrant training and feminist pedagogies and practices, Studies in the Education of Adults.

Shan, H. (2019). Towards a postcolonial politics of appearance: Unsettling lifelong learning as a racial contract, International Journal of Lifelong Education. 38(1), 34-47, 10.1080/02601370.2018.1518348

Morrice, L., Shan, H. & Sprung, A. (2018). Migration, Adult Education and Learning, Studies in the Education of Adults, 49 (2): 129-135

Soong, H., Stahl, G., & Shan, H. (2018). Transnational mobility through education: a Bourdieusian insight on life as middle transnationals in Australia and Canada, Globalisation, Soceities, and Education, 16(2), 241-253.

Shan, H. (2018). Elitist in façade: Chinese transnationalism reticulated within global capitalism between Canada and China, International Journal of Chinese Education 6, 133-157, doi 10.1163/22125868-12340078

Shan, H. (2017). Lifelong education and lifelong learning with Chinese characteristics: A critical policy discourse analysis, Asia Pacific Education Review, 18 (2), 189-201.

Shan, H., & Butterwick, S. (2016). Transformative learning of mentors from an immigrant workplace connection program. Studies in Continuing Education, early release. DOI: 10.1080/0158037X.2016.1167032

Shan, H., Pullman, A., ^ & Zhao, Q. ^ (2016). The making of transnational social space: Chinese women managing careers and life between China and Canada, Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, 25(2), 105-129. DOI: 10.1177/0117196816639056

Shan, H. (2015). Distributed pedagogy of difference: Reimagining immigrant training and education, Canadian Journal for Studies in Adult Education, 27(3), 1-16.

 Shan, H. (2015). Women, gender, and immigrant studies in Canadian adult education: An ethnographic content analysis, Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 27(2), 46-63.

 Shan, H. (2015). Towards a participatory model of governance: Settlement services in the training and education of immigrants. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education (NDACE), 146 summer, 19-28.

 Shan, H., Liu, Z. and Li, L. (2015). Development by Design: Vocational training for Liushou women in Rural China, Journal of Vocational Education and Training. 67(1),11-25.

 Shan, H. & Walter, P. (2014). Growing Everyday Multiculturalism: Practice-Based Learning of Chinese Immigrants Through Community Gardens in Canada, Adult Education Quarterly, DOI: 10.1177/0741713614549231.

 Shan, H. (2014). Complicating the entrepreneurial self: Professional Chinese immigrant women negotiating occupations in Canada, Globalisation, Societies and Education. 10.1080/14767724.2014.934069

Shan, H. (2014). Continuous learning and its social organisation for engineers: An exploratory study in China, Australian Journal of Adult Learning.

Shan, H. (2013). The disjuncture of learning and recognition: Credential assessment from the standpoint of Chinese immigrant engineers in Canada, European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, 4 (2), 189-204.

Shan. H.(2013). Skill as a relational construct: The hiring practices in the engineering profession in Canada. Work, Employment and Society, 27 (6): 915-931.DOI: 10.1177/0950017012474710

Shan, H. & Guo, S. (2013). Learning as sociocultural practices: Chinese immigrant professionals negotiating differences in the Canadian labour market. Comparative Education.

Guo, S, & Shan, H. (2013). The politics of recognition: Critical analysis of the foreign qualification recognition discourse in Canada. International Journal of Lifelong Education. DOI:10.1080/02601370.2013.778073

Shan, H., Muhajarine, N., Loptson, K., & Jeffery, B., (2012). Building social capital as a pathway to success: Community development practices of an early childhood intervention program in Canada, Health Promotion International. DOI:10.1093/heapro/das063

Shan, H. (2012). Learning to “Fit in”: The Emotional Work of Chinese Immigrant Engineers in Canada, Journal of Workplace Learning, 24(5): 351-364.

Sangha, J., Slade, B., Mirchandani, K., Maitra, S. and Shan, H. (2012). Skilled Invulnerability:An ethnodrama on learning in the racialized culture of contingency. Qualitative Inquiry. 18(3), 286-296.

Ng, R., & Shan, H. (2010). Lifelong learning as ideological practice: An analysis from the perspective of professional immigrant women.  The International Journal of Lifelong Education, 29(2), 169-184.

Shan, H. (2009). Practices on the periphery: Chinese immigrant women negotiating occupational niches in Canada. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 21(2), 1-18.

Shan, H. (2009) Shaping the re-training and re-education experiences of immigrant women: The    credential and certificate regime in Canada. The International Journal of Lifelong Education,28 (3), 353-369.

Maitra, S. & Shan, H. (2007). Transgressive Vs. conformative: Immigrant women learning at contingent work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 19(5), 286-295.

Book chapters

Shan, H. & Guo, S. (forthcoming 2020). Migrant Education, Rocco, T., Smith, M. C. Mizzi, R., Merriweather, L. R. Hawley, J.D. (Eds.), 2020 Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education, Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Shan, H. (2021). Work and Learning: Perspectives in Canada, In Brigham, S. Jubas, K., McGray, R. (Eds.), Adult Education in the Canadian Context. Thomason Publisher
Shan, H. (2017). Reconfiguring the Learning Space: Skilled Immigrants in Canada ,In J. Holford, P. Jarvis, M. Milana, R. Waller & S. Webb (Eds.), Handbook of Adult and Lifelong Education and Learning (pp. 687-706). London: Palgrave McMillan.

Guo, S. & Shan, H. (2016). The politics of recognition: Critical discourse analysis of recent PLAR policies for immigrant professionals in Canada. In P. Andersson, A. Fejes & F. Sandberg (Eds.), Recognition of prior learning: Research from around the globe. London: Routledge. (reprint)

Shan, H. (2016). Complicating the entrepreneurial self: Professional Chinese immigrant women negotiating occupations in Canada. In S. Guo (Ed.), Work, learning and transnational migration: Opportunities, challenges, and debates (pp. 7-31). London: Routledge. [Reprint]

Shan, H. (2016). Changing practices and shifting perceptions: Chinese immigrants “integrating” into the engineering profession in Canada. In H. Cao & J. Paltiel (Eds.), Facing China as a new global superpower (pp. 147-162). Singapore: Springer Science+Business Media Singapore

Shan, H. & Guo, S. (2016). Massification of Chinese higher education: Opportunities and challenges in a globalizing context. In S. Guo & Y. Guo (Eds.), Spotlight on China: Chinese education in the globalized world (pp. 215-230). Rotterdam, the Netherlands: Sense Publishers. [reprint]

Shan, H., Muhajarine, N., Loptson, K. (2014). Tripartite collaboration and challenges: Reflecting on the research process of a participatory program evaluation, in B. Jeffery, I. Findlay, D. Martz & L. Clarke (ed.), Journey in Community-based Research (pp. 122-136). Regina: University of Regina.Shan, H. & Guo, S. (2014). Massification of Chinese higher education: Opportunities and challenges in a globalizing context, in M. Kariwo, T. Gounko, & M. Nungu (Eds.), A Comparative Analysis of Higher Education Systems: Issues, Challenges and Dilemmas (pp.9-24), Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Shan, H. (2012). Articulating the self to the engineering market: Chinese immigrants’ experiences from a critical transformative learning perspectiveIn Bauder, H. (ed.), Immigration and settlement: Challenges, experiences and opportunities in global and local contexts (pp. 95-108). Toronto: the Canadian Scholars’ Press.

Macqueen, F., Muhajarine, N., Shan, H. and Nickel, D. (2011). Early childhood intervention in the community… makes sense, but does it really work? Findings from our three-year collaborative study. In Population Health Intervention Research Casebook, (pp 41-44), Canadian Institute of Health Research – Institute of Population and Public Health, Canadian   Institute for Health Information –Canadian Population Health Initiative. Available at  or

Mirchandani, K., Ng, R., Coloma-Moya, N., Maitra, S., Rawlings, T., Shan, H., Siddiqui, K., and Slade, B. (2011).  The Entrenchment of Racial Categories in Precarious Employment. In N. Pupo, D.  Glenday & A. Duffy (Eds.) The Shifting Landscape of Work (pp.119-138). Toronto: Nelson Educational Ltd.

Mirchandani, K., Ng, R., Coloma-Moya, N., Maitra, S., Rawlings, T., Shan, H., et al. (2010). Transitioning into precarious work: Immigrants’ learning and resistance. In A. Taylor, and P. Sawchuk (Eds.), Challenging transitions in learning and work: Reflections on policy and practice (pp. 231-242). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Mirchandani, K., Ng, R., Colomo- Moya, N., Maitra, S., Rawlings, T., Shan, H., et al.             (2008). The paradox of training and learning in a culture of contingency. In D. W. Livingstone, K. Mirchandani and P. Sawchuk (Eds.), The future of lifelong learning and work (pp. 171-184).  Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

Other refereed contributions

Shan, H. (in press). Immigrant parenting. In Alex C. Michalos (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research. Springer.

Shan, H. (2007). Immigration. International encyclopedia of the social sciences, (2nd Ed.) (pp. 581-583). Macmillan Reference USA.

Non-Refereed Contributions 

Guo, S. and Shan, H., (2013). Canada, in A. Schuster, M.V. Desiderio, G., Urso (eds.), Recognition of Qualifications and Competencies of Migrants (pp.229-254), International Organization for Migration.

Muhajarine, N., Nickle, D., Shan, H., and the KidsFirst research team (2010). KidsFirst program evaluation: Integrated report. Research report sub, mitted to the Early Childhood Development Unit, Saskatchewan Government.

Muhajarine, N., Loptson, K., Shan, H., Turnbull, H., Premji, S., Leggett, T. McMullin, K. and the Evaluation Research Team (2010). KidsFirst program evaluation: Report of the qualitative study. Research report submitted to the Early Childhood Development Unit, Saskatchewan Government.

Shan, H. (2008). Skill formation and globalization. Book Review. Convergence, 40(1/2), 207-214.

Shan, H. (2006). Teachers’ roles in the learner-centred approach: Empirical evidence from two computer literacy courses. Working Paper. Centre for the Study of Education and Work. Available from

Mirchandani, K., Sangha, J., Maitra, S., Slade, B., & Shan, H. (2006). Skilled in vulnerability: An ethnodrama on learning in the racailized culture of contingency. Video produced based on the research project of “Democratizing Workplace Literacy”

Forthcoming publications (selected)

Shan, H. (invited submission) International immigrant education in Y. Teng (ed.), Educational Anthropology, Beijing: Minzu University. 国际移民教育,滕星编辑,《教育人类学通论》: 北京:民族大学.

Students Supervised

PhD and EdD students supervised

2015 – present
(Co-supervisor with A. Taylor)
Nasim Peikazadi, Understanding integration: A critical examination of refugee employment integration services in Canada – provisional title
2014 – present JiAi Cho, A study of collaboration among educators from Canada and Kenya in a transnational setting – provisional title
2014 – present
(Co-supervisor with H. Wright)
Caroline Locher-Lo, Mandarin bilingual program: An instrumental case study of heritage language and Chinese-Canadian identity – provisional title

MA students supervised

2016 – present Rachel Goosen, A community of support for resettled refugee children: an appreciative inquiry of a primary school in Metro Vancouver – provisional title
2014 – present Yanxian (Queenie) Mo, “Top” overseas talent as a distinguished social group: A policy study using critical discourse analysis. Completed

Courses Taught

EDST 565D (081): Rethinking Skill and Competency: Theories, Policies, and Practices

EDST 565 D (085): Work and Learning in the Context of Globalization and Immigration

EDST 581 (971): Theories and Research on Adult Learning

EDST 508A: Review of Research in Educational Studies

EDST 571 :  Introduction to Educational Research

ADHE 327: Teaching Adults


Regional representative, executive board of the Canadian Association for the Studies of Adult Education 2017-2018

Secretary on the Executive Committee of Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education (CASAE) 2012-2014


Invited speeches – international 

Shan, H. (2017). Invited Keynote Panel Speaker on Learning as Border practices: Rethinking learning society from  a Diasporic Space, 18th International Conference on Education Research,  Seoul National University, Oct.  18-20. Seoul, South Korea. 

Shan, H. (2016). Invited Panel Discussant on Internationalization and global citizenship education: Canadian experiences and perspectives, XVI World Congress of Comparative Education Societies, Aug. 22-26, Beijing, China.

 Shan, H. (2016). Expert Panel Speaker on Gendered geography of power: Exploring immigrant women engineers’ career trajectories with transnational sensitivities. Moving: Gendered Experiences of Migration, Gentrification, and Displacement, April 8-9, The Global Studies Centre, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, USA.

 Shan, H. (2015). Visiting Professor Seminar Speaker on Immigrant training and education in Canada, Nov. 16, University of Wurzburg, Wurzburg, Germany.

 Shan, H. (2015). Invited Panel Discussant on Ethics and internationalization in higher education, European Conference on Educational Research, Sept. 7-11, University of Corvinus, Budapest, Hungary.  

 Shan, H. (2014). Invited Guest Lecturer on Distributed pedagogy of difference: Reimagining immigrant training and education. University of Huddersfield, May 26, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England.

 Invited speeches: Local – selected

 Shan, H. (March 2018). Invited Keynote Speaker on Re/de-centring the self: Continuous career development in the era of mobility and super-diversity, BC Career Development Conference, BC Career Development Association,  Mar. 6, Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront, Vancouver, BC. Canada

 Shan, H. (2017). Invited Panel Speaker on Supervisory Relationship, Pre-Conference for Graduate Students and Post-doctral Scholars, Canadian Association for the Study of Adult Education, May 27, Toronto: Ryerson University.   

 Shan, H. (2016). Invited Guest Speaker, Language, mobility and labour market integration, UBC Center for Research in Chinese Langauge and Literary Education, Sept. 30, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC. Canada.