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WLV Skills Teachmeet 2014: Where are they coming from? Information literacy skills and the new international student by Carol Bailey.

  1. Where are they coming from? Information literacy and ‘the’ new international student Carol Bailey Senior Lecturer English for Academic Purposes International Academy
  3. judyboo 13 Sept 2012
  4. judyboo 13 Sept 2012

Editor's Notes

  1. Don’t want to generalise or promote a deficit view of international students – they are all different; many are highly skilled; most adapt to our requirements and succeed (in some cases against significant odds) in their studies.
  2. Small but significant minority of international students may have very limited experience of computer use before they arrive in the UK. Rural area with no internet connection Intermittent electricity supply (even in large urban areas) Frequent equipment breakdown “I studied Computing for three years in India, but never used a computer during my course. We had all our lessons in an IT lab but weren’t allowed to touch the computers in case we damaged them. I had never used Google or any other search engine before coming here. Basic things like uploading my student photo during online enrolment took me ages to do.” (Indian PG) This will impact on - typing speed - mouse skills - internet navigation (where to click?) Many students buy their own laptop before leaving home/after arrival BUT - different mouse - may be different keyboard - Windows 8 (UW desktop image is Windows 7) Some students may be more digitally literate than their UK peers. E.g. Chinese HE sts all have to pass national computing exams. IMPLICATIONS: some students may have difficulty ‘keeping up’ in info lit sessions.
  3. Assessment in many countries is by exam rather than coursework. Course materials may be limited to one core textbook per study unit (China) or handouts provided by teacher (Cameroon). This means that some international students may be less practised in skills like searching for information or assessing the reliability of a text. Some have never been in a library, or have experienced closed-access systems: “I faced various problems because I do not know how I can find books from the shelf take help from help desk.” (Indian UG) “I didn’t know how to find information from the internet, I only knew how to use the internet to find lyrics for songs.” (Cypriot UG) “searching information is also a hard work, because when faced to the whole information from internet or books, I have to read and choose what I need. Most importantly, I had to judge if they are accuracy or objective and whether I could find the reference of them.” (Chinese UG) “The big problem is I should change my research topic that can't find the information in website or university article. It is only found the tax system in UK or China, not both the UK and China.” (Chinese UG) [i.e. looking to find ‘the’ answer in one place]
  4. Academic writing conventions – in exams or in contexts where all the materials are provided by the teacher, there’s little perceived need to attribute the source of information. Where written coursework is undertaken, conventions may be different from ours: “You are making us suffer with all your rules and regulations.” (Nigerian PG) “In terms of plagiarism, most of the tutors in Korea are generous. Even though some students copy the content from the internet, they never feel guilty. Referencing of sources is somewhat unusuall to Korean students because it is very common to share someone’s ideas or thoughts together. However, the importance of referencing is becoming essential particularly at university.” (Korean PG) [penalties. common knowledge] “I should learn more about writing a reference. In Japan, teachers do not care too much about the reference. If we took some information from the website, we just need to put “from Online”. Even now, I do not get used to write them.” (Japanese UG) “the strict Harvard style reference really made me woozy. I also did it in my country, but it not so strict that a punctuation must be correct.” (Chinese UG) Chinese project/dissertation typically lists references at end but not in-text. Others: less differentiation between quotes and paraphrase. “If I need to write an essay just I used to copy and paste the whole assignment [while] modifying the certain part of my essay.” (Indian PG) Has read around the subject – patchwork of copied material from several sources (not necessarily desirable sources!) Has cited sources – not trying to cheat “I don't know how to write and I should change the sentences structure or words so that make sure no plagiarism. After three hours, I only write nearly 100 words. I worried about if I can finish my assignment on time.” (Chinese UG) “There are a lot vocabularies I don't know, sometimes this will result me to copy.” (Chinese UG) Incorporating many voices with ones own is difficult for native speakers; even harder for EAL users.
  5. English language “this book was deep for me, especially the words. There were lots of words I did not know. I spent 2 hours on reading only 2 sheets…Sometimes, the words were simple but I cannot understand what did it mean. If it was a Chinese book, it will be very easy for me to take notes. Perhaps I can take notes for whole book in 2 hours.” (Chinese UG) Schmitt (2005): 40,000 words considered ‘sufficiently large’ for native English speakers; 10,000 considered large for EAL university entrants; one study of 643 students showed an average vocabulary size of 4,594 words. IMPLICATIONS - difficulty identifying suitable keywords - incorrect search terms due to problems with spelling and grammar - difficulty skimming through list of search hits/abstracts to identify relevant sources (and discard the irrelevant) TIME!!! Image title: Tự Đức Thánh Chế Tự Học Giải Nghĩa Ca Date Written in 1882; first published in 1898. Source Sử quán tu thư sở (史館修書所), the Institute of history, Nguyen Dynasty of Vietnam Author Emperor Tự Đức (嗣德帝) of Vietnam Copyright expired. Accessed via Wikimedia Commons
  6. Some reading Bailey, C. (2012) ‘Negotiating writing: challenges of the first written assignment at a UK university.’ In Sovic, S. and Blythman, M. (eds.) International Students Negotiating Higher Education: critical perspectives. Abingdon: Routledge, 173-189. Errey, L. (2002) ‘Plagiarism. Something fishy…or just a fish out of water?’ Teaching Forum, 50: 17-20. Liu, D. (2005) ‘Plagiarism in ESOL students: is cultural conditioning truly the major culprit?’ English Language Teaching Journal, 59(3): 234-41. Pecorari, D. (2003) ‘Good and original: Plagiarism and patchwriting in academic second-language writing’, Journal of Second Language Writing, 12: 317-45. Phan Le Ha (2006) ‘Plagiarism and overseas students: stereotypes again?’ English Language Teaching Journal, 60(1): 375-81. Schmitt, D. (2005) ‘Writing in the international classroom’, in J. Carroll and J. Ryan (eds) Teaching international students: improving learning for all. Abingdon: Routledge, 63-74.