Library support for International students


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Library Support for International Students paper by Helen Ireland given at the ALISS 2012 supporting diverse student populations conference.

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Library support for International students

  1. 1. Library Support for International StudentsALISS Conference on Supporting Diverse Student Populations,Coventry University, 22 August 2012 Helen Ireland Academic Support Librarian, University of Warwick you with information,support and your community
  2. 2. International students in UK highereducation: key statisticsAccording to UCKISA statistics (non-UK) students in UK HE in 2010-11 : totalled 428,225 compared with 405,810 in 2009-10 (an increase of 6%) made up 14% of full-time first degree students and 13% of all first degree students made up 70% of full-time taught postgraduates and 46% of all taught postgraduates made up 48% of full-time research degree students and 41% of all research postgraduatesconnecting you with information,support and your community
  3. 3. What do we mean by the term“international student”?• Full-time undergraduate / postgraduate• Visiting students – Erasmus, Junior Year Abroad• Short courses• TNE (Trans National Education)• Distance learning• “Every student an international student” ?connecting you with information,support and your community
  4. 4. Sources of advice on supportinginternational students• Teaching International Students project, students• UKCISA, British Council, NUS• Surveys, e.g. the 2008 SCONUL Survey• CILIP courses and other training sessions for library staff• LIS-International mailing list• Conferences and networking events, e.g. Business Librarians’ Association, WESLINK, EMALINK, YHULISS• Books and journal literatureconnecting you with information,support and your community
  5. 5. Problems faced by international students• Culture shock• Language shock• Academic shock: different learning styles and previous study experience• Different experiences of libraries• Under pressure to succeed but may need time to get up to speed• Frustration : used to being at the top of the pile and suddenly feeling they’re at the bottomconnecting you with information,support and your community
  6. 6. “Put yourself in their shoes” – what is itlike to arrive in a strange place?• Interesting and exciting – at first• Disorientating• Tiring!• Different from home – you don’t know what to expect• Anxiety about causing offence, not knowing the rules• Things can turn out well – or can quickly start to go wrong!connecting you with information,support and your community
  7. 7. What can we do to help?• A friendly welcome• Good guidance• Online tutorials and videos• Face-to-face and email support• Build on our own experience gained from working abroad or visiting institutions overseas• Raise awareness among colleagues• BUT – Beware of stereotyping or making international students feel “special”. Help them to feel part of the whole student body.connecting you with information,support and your community
  8. 8. Managing expectations• Awareness of what students expect from the Library• Clear and realistic information on Library webpages about what we can offer, and how much help is available, ideally visible before arrival – Emphasise that Library resources are free of charge to members of the university – Links to basic information about how the Library works, such as “Get Started” programmes – Links to information on UK study skills and academic writing• Information skills training at appropriate levelsconnecting you with information,support and your community
  9. 9. International students – the same onlydifferent?connecting you with information,support and your community
  10. 10. International distance learners• Same issues as any distance learner – can’t see the librarian in person, need help online by e-mail or a forum• May be confused about how to register or enrol• Internet access may be worse for them than for UK distance learners• Infrastructure issues – power cuts, computer accessconnecting you with information,support and your community
  11. 11. International students at the University ofWarwick• 30% of Warwick students international students• All subject areas• Postgraduate, undergraduate, HEFP (Higher Education Foundation Programme) and visiting students• Wide range of backgrounds and experience• Demanding but very rewarding client group• We really can make a difference to an individual’s experience of the institution!connecting you with information,support and your community
  12. 12. University of Warwick Library WorkingGroup on International Students• Formed in 2006, widened in 2007• Membership drawn from all areas of the Library (currently from Academic Support, Customer Services, Data Services)• Regular meetings• Reports to Library Managementconnecting you with information,support and your community
  13. 13. Group’s achievements• Library Strategy for International Students• Library web page for international students• Library jargon list (List of Useful Words)• Cultural awareness sessions• Staff training – Open Days, small group training sessions• Liaison with International Office• Liaison with Centre for Applied Linguistics over library sessions for Pre-Sessional Students, involving staff from all areas of the Library• Survey of international students carried out in 2011connecting you with information,support and your community
  14. 14. Survey outcomes• Paper survey and Survey Monkey• 250 responses• Similar findings to Library Survey in 2012 and Student Barometer• Flagged up demand for more books, more space, longer opening hours• Lack of awareness of sources of help, such as videos, tutorials, and academic support librariansconnecting you with information,support and your community
  15. 15. Staff Training feedback 1: What challenges mightinternational students meet in the library?• Directions to and in the library• Different terminology• Intimidation due to size of building and unfamiliar systems• Difficulty in finding and accessing help• Language barrier – not being able to express themselves – may be due to accents as much as language• Cultural experiences and skills related to libraries don’t match the services here• Overwhelming amount of information to take in• Confusion over different study areas and rules• Different classmarks on different floors & being used to different class systems• Feeling ashamed of fines, or of making mistakes• Not used to our alphabet• Christmas closure periods• May think they have to pay for library services• Not really understanding what it is they are looking for on the shelvesconnecting you with information,support and your community
  16. 16. Staff Training feedback 2: What challenges mightlibrary staff meet when working with internationalstudents?• Communication – conversation and email – jargon / acronyms• Cultural differences – body language, personal space, gender and authority issues• Feeling guilty for fining students who don’t understand the system• Classmark system – students used to reading right to left find the shelves difficult to navigate – need more help finding books• Conveying library rules• Students not used to QWERTY keyboards type very slowly – tempting to type for them• Students may ask us to get books for them if they are not used to being able to go to shelves themselves• Difficult to explain equipment or e-resources to student with no prior experience• Difficult to explain electronic access issues or log in issues to students who have not used similar systems (hard enough for home students!)connecting you with information,support and your community
  17. 17. Student support initiatives at Warwick • “Get Started” Training • Enquiry Services • Academic Support Librarians • EndNoteWeb training • Research Exchange • Postgraduate Hub • Twitter and other Web 2.0 supportconnecting you with information,support and your community
  18. 18. Whatever we do for international studentsmay help any student• They all need help with library jargon• They may all feel lost when they first arrive• Many need help in using our information sources• Many need one-to-one timeconnecting you with information,support and your community
  19. 19. BUT…• Working in a second language slows things down and we need to be sure we make ourselves understood• Postgraduates may have been taught in a different way in their first degree and find it hard to adjust to UK study patterns• Many are very focused on their work and may come across as impatient• We may misinterpret confusion or tension and see it as rudeness• Loneliness or disorientation may be greater than for home students – don’t ignore warning signsconnecting you with information,support and your community
  20. 20. Essentials• Take each individual as you find him or her and avoid stereotyping• Be prepared to give time to individuals – becoming harder as our workload increases• Ask them what they need to know - and listen• Avoid jargon and dialect• Confirm whether your answer is clear• Be patient – and smile!connecting you with information,support and your community
  21. 21. What have we learned from working withour international students at Warwick?• Our role is crucial – in customer services, as academic support librarians, or whatever we do• We need to try to understand the student’s background, offer friendly support and make each individual feel valued• Our efforts will usually be appreciated• The extra dimension of working with people from other countries is always rewarding• It is easy to put yourself in someone else’s shoes!connecting you with information,support and your community
  22. 22. Our Goalconnecting you with information,support and your community
  23. 23. Useful websites••• network/blog/2012/jun/21/opportunities-in-transnational- education••• ments/International-students.pdf• you with information,support and your community