Teaching international students: effective learning support for all Jude Carroll ‘Teaching International Students’ project Oxford Brookes University
What is the Teaching International Students project? Run by the Higher Education Academy Funded through 2 year project TIS Team: Janette Ryan, Jude Carroll, Fiona Hyland (ESCalate), Inna Pomerina (Economics), Melodee Beals (History, Classics & Archeology) , Simon Steiner (Engineering) , Malcolm Todd (C-SAP), Ali Dickens (LLAS), Andrea Frank (CEBE), Caprice Lantz (Psychology), Richard Atfield (BMAF), Adam Child & Katherine Lagar, HEA
Some UK numbers … ‘international students’ UK: 15% and rising (22.9% increase 2010 UUK) 12% of first degree students 66% of full-time taught postgraduates; 50% of full-time research degree students (43% of all research postgraduates) “This is no longer a ‘minority’ issue…..” Is this true here?
Not just rising numbers ….. Much more diverse previous experiences as learners …from vetting and selecting to mass higher education New reasons for leaving New reasons for coming New goals and motivations For UK HEIs: new reasons?
Link between numbers & your experiences? Local proportions vary [by region, discipline, level, nationality, …] Cohort characteristics vary Overall percentages ‘Blocks’ of one nationality / language group Percentage of ‘home students’ Length of stay / study. Top-up? Enrolled [‘our students’] or exchange? On line / distance? Generalisations about ‘international students’ …. are they helpful?
A few hard truths? Aim for “good teaching” or ‘work-arounds’? No easy answers Loads of shared good practice / evidence-based approaches … much of it overlooked NOT addressing issues does not lead to neutral results “adapt” “accommodate” “adjust” Who needs to change?
Approaches to managing academic cultural diversity Denial ‘I teach. It’s up to them to learn.’ ‘I teach Chemistry. Oxygen is the same everywhere’ ‘I didn’t admit this student who can’t speak English …’ ‘Repair’‘You fix them and then I’ll teach them’ ‘These students can’t….. They don’t ….. They are not motivated….’ Students must adapt‘These students came for a British education’ ‘We do a two week conversion course before they start….’ ‘All our assessments now come with detailed briefs’ ‘Here are six workshops on academic writing’ Teachers accommodate and adjust their practice. But…. …‘bottom line’ non-negotiable … must be sustainable, efficient
My guesses: …your students are becoming more diverse [in language and culture]. You will have mixed reactions to this diversity. …all your students will need to adapt to their new educational setting. Some will have significantly more adjustment to make. …you will need to change (or have already changed) how you teach and what you teach and probably, how you think about teaching …. to accommodate cultural and linguistic diversity. …. you and probably your colleagues will have a range of reactions (not all positive) to teaching international students.
Big issues for international students? Language Transition, new academic cultural assumptions and expectations; standards ‘New game, new rules’ Engagement and participation ‘Support’ and guidance [formal, informal, academic, pastoral, economic, human…..] Application and utility of UK awards
Suggestions: teachers managing cultural/language diversity 1. Accept & learn about academiccultural difference 2. Support students’ transition & skill development – Start early and keep going. Teach English. 3. Use teaching methods that encourage participation and collaboration 4. Create a globally-relevant curriculum 5. Anticipate and manage predictable problems(expectations, integration, group work, plagiarism, etc)
You probably already manage these issues … choose one example of your actions & share it Students’ previous learning contexts and expectations being different from a ‘typical’ NI student’s. What do you do? Students’ language development needing particular attention at the beginning. How do you help? Students finding it very hard to participate by speaking and interacting without encouragement. How do you encourage them? Producing graduates for a globally interconnected and diverse world. When and how? Students not easily mixing and seeking out interaction with those they see as ‘different’. Your reaction?
How the Teaching International Students project sets out to help
Foregrounding academic cultural differences and advocating ‘meta-awareness’ artefacts ….. how you greet people, what you eat, what you call people cultural norms …. how you resolve an argument how formal you are with strangers, how loudly you speak, how close you stand…… what makes ‘a convincing argument’. shared, deeply-held beliefs about how things should be….. The same is true for teaching and learning…… but we are less likely to expect the differences or to know about them.
Same words, different artefacts different norms different beliefs Reading Writing Critical ‘my own work’ Teacher Learning ‘Good work’ Examination Help Deadline 9:00
I tell my students, ‘Call me Jude’. When students ask, I help with study-based issues. I select the issues but the students must find their own answers I want students to discuss, argue, solve problems. What’s their conclusion? .. their argument? I want students to read around, to choose good bits from reading, from lectures, labs….and to weave them together to make an answer. Their answer …. not the answer I call my teacher Dr. xxx A good teacher notices I need help and offers it. A good teacher tells me good answers to good questions. To learn, I must listen to the teacher. Really listen. I read the textbook many many many times. Exam questions and answers are from the textbook.
The important point: from ‘essentialist’ to self-aware and transparent …… Students base their actions and expectations on their previous academic cultural experiences. [‘I expected the UK to be the same….’] You notice surprises and differences as students act upon their assumptions…. As they ask questions, speak, work together, act on your instructions, try and learn….. [‘Cultural bumps’] You learn what your expectations and assumptions are by noting the differences. Then you tell your students explicitly some of those expectations and assumptions. ‘Tell them the rules’
What builds a shared understanding of YOUR academic assumptions? Don’t focus on the artefact[i.e. What teachers are called , ‘Call me Jude’] Specify and describe the normative behaviour (‘the rule’) [‘Teachers and students call each other by first names except when ….’] [Maybe] discuss the underpinning belief [‘Here, first names can make communication easier and more open but does not mean being friends.’] *Telling students the belief does not mean they will adopt the belief – just that they might understand it better.* If following the norm requires specific skills, then telling is not enough.
tools and equipment Suggestion 2: information …academic cultural difference support students’ skill development – especially at first. Support students’ English. 3. Methods to encourage participation 4. Globally-relevant curriculum 5. Anticipate and manage predictable problems examples motivating reasons Practice the ‘subskills’ feedback putting subskills together. Practice time working with an expert to aim high feedback practice
2. Skill development Many new skills [reading, note making, writing, locating sources, analysis, technical skills, time management…..] Early diagnostics [Student: ‘How am I doing?] Design in practice and feedback Cannot be left to individual teachers: Programme-level planning Start early (but not induction). Keep going ….
‘….. programme focus’ : ‘We don’t have a programme, just a collection of courses’ Yet …. everything we know about improving quality and engaging students in their learning relies on having a focus at the level of the PROGRAMME. Radical idea: we could use the needs of international students to develop and encourage a programme approach.
Suggestion 3: …academic cultural difference … students’ skill development, especially English. Methods to encourage participation Globally-relevant curriculum 5. Anticipate and manage predictable problems
3. Pro-active, teacher-supported participation and engagement Lecturing Seminars Supervision Group work Project work Project groups which pull students together. Note-making Understanding and thinking Active links to assessment Speaking, asking questions, listening to others’ ideas Problem-solving Presenting Using meetings to plan and check progress Agreeing on roles and expectations Effective levels of structure and support Mixing , shared input into final product Drawing upon and using students’ ‘cultural capital’ Learning cross-cultural communication skills
Getting involved Contact firstname.lastname@example.org Via website: www.heacademy.ac.uk/internationalstudents
Suggestion 4: …academic cultural difference … students’ skill development, especially English. 3. …. encourage participation by all 4. Globally-relevant curriculum 5. Anticipate and manage trouble
4. Globally-relevant curriculum Different for each programme Not just content! Teach and assess cross cultural skills Promote student integration Opportunities? - Introduction activities - Problems for students to solve - Reading lists - Guest speakers - Research areas - Library resources
5. Manage predictable problems Difference is hard. Expect it! Group work is hard. Manage it. Plagiarism is predictable and understandable. Work with that. Students do not integrate spontaneously. Choreograph it. Encourage it. Even assess it? Conflict is inevitable. Develop strategies and help the students develop strategies to manage conflict. It may be your most precious contribution to their future and the global future we all share.
Final word All students find university new Most find it new and hard Many find it new and hard and strange Some find it new and hard and strange and all wrong, really wrong Most succeed. Teach for inclusion and the students will succeed with more ease and less pain …. and so will you.