The Inclusive Department: international students

Following on from a previous blog on Internationalisation and Student Satisfaction, and in the wake of Welcome Week and the start of the new academic year, Anna Chen offers some of her observations and suggestions for better integration of Chinese students.

 

Timing of support

The first four to  six weeks of the semester are intense with a great deal to take in. This can lead to overload issues. For example, students whose English is not strong often have not really taken in everything they need (‘nodding’ is not the same as understanding), and personal and cultural shyness are also factors in this early stage.

So, for academic support, invitations need to be put in different ways and more than once throughout the year, e.g. for essay writing, literature review etc. If offers of support only come at the start of the year, when language skills are not so strong, the invitation may not be taken up, though the support is very much needed.

If the invitation also comes later in the semester and annual programme when language skills and cultural confidence have improved, the offer is more likely to be accepted and used.

Discipline-specific issues

There are subject-specific issues for international students e.g. need for essay writing in humanities, role of students’ opinion in social sciences etc. So, ‘opinion’ is itself a pedagogical issue, taken for granted with European students, but in need of pedagogical definition and development for some international students.

Working with the Guild

The staff view that their role is specific to the discipline, whilst the social side of the student is ‘for the Guild’ or elsewhere, does not work for many international students. These students often need or even expect their tutors to direct them in areas of student life beyond the subject. So, opportunities to become more socially and culturally integrated need to come from within the department as well as being on offer from the Guild.

Communications from the Guild about activities and social opportunities should be co-branded with, and come from within, the departments to give them ‘authority’ to international students.

Social Initiatives from within the department

90% of Chinese students do not join student societies (‘the girls go shopping; the boys play online games’). To encourage participation, attendance at co-curricular and departmental events could be attached to credits; part of the ‘life of the department/discipline’.

Could there be departmental fresher’s or society fairs – at more than one point in the year?

The city’s heritage should be used far more. After all, that is what the students do know about Liverpool before they come here (maritime, link with Shanghai (Expo), football, Beatles etc.). Tutors could perhaps take out groups of students – this is done as part of Health Sciences Welcome events, but not in most other departments.

Learning-at-scale issues

In departments where there are very large numbers of Chinese students (e.g. Liverpool School of Management), large lectures (1,000) should be followed by reinforcement seminars (as at the University of Manchester).

In-reach

Can UK undergraduate students become involved in types of integration effort within their department? Undergraduate students are already involved in out-reach to schools. Can they then become involved in ‘in-reach’ for international students?

Dr Anna Chen

2015 John Hamilton Lifelong Learning Lecture: Ghada Karmi, ‘A Palestinian Memoir: Where next for the right of return?’

Ghada Karmi: ‘A Palestinian Memoir: Where next for the right of return?’

Thursday 22nd October, 6pm

The Quaker Centre, 22 School Lane (near the Blue Coat Chambers), Liverpool, L1 3BT. Click here for directions.

Price: FREE, booking essential (booking information below)

This year the John Hamilton Lifelong Learning Lecture will be delivered by Ghada Karmi. One of the most passionate and articulate advocates of the cause of the Palestinian people, Ghada is the author of the best-selling In Search of Fatima (Verso 2002). She has also recently published A Palestinian Memoir: Where next for the right of return? (2015).

In her writings she has described the harrowing experience that she and her family went through during the Nakba (‘Catastrophe’) of 1948 when many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the terrorism of the emerging Israeli state. The great majority were displaced to refugee camps in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan; those who are still alive remaining there with their descendants to this day. Currently around five million UNRWA registered Palestinian refugees live in camps after an expulsion lasting nearly 70 years.

Ghada and her family came eventually to London. Her father had worked for the BBC in Palestine and was able to take up a post with its Arabic service. However, the Karmi family always lived with a sense of displacement and longing for their original home and culture. In 2005, after many years of political activism campaigning for the right of the Palestinians to return to their homeland, Ghada took up an opportunity in 2005 to work as a media consultant with the Palestinian Authority. In her most recent book she tells of the frustrations of that experience, working with an organisation that whilst mimicking the manner and organisational style of a ‘state’ is actually powerless to achieve justice for Palestinians, dominated always by the political and military power of Israel.

However, she also insists that just as her own generation looks now to the young educated Palestinians who today staff the various UN funded projects and campaign offices of the Palestinian Authority, so too do they need to know the story of the 1948 generation in order to make sense of their struggle today.

For more information on the John Hamilton lifelong learning lecture series click here.

To book your place click here

 

Mark O’Brien

You teach? Try iTeach

iTeach is the online resource portal for those who teach and support student learning at The University of Liverpool .

Resources in key areas of learning and teaching are available. Recent additions include a glossary of teaching terms, discipline specific resources and access to other UoL teaching resources such as SPARK (new technologies in learning and teaching) and ‘how to’ guides in VITAL.

As examples, programmes going through approval have needed learning outcomes revision and colleagues have asked for information so these resources have been updated.  Some discipline-specific examples can be applied generally, such as Engaging Students in Engineering through their everyday experiences, which illustrates how the course design can improve student study motivation and interest. Tackling the challenges of teaching large cohorts, the Department of Electronics & Electrical Engineering highlight the importance of involving students and using technology – their examples are here.  Digital Literacy and Learning Capabilities are key strategic developments in Higher Education, so more is now available.

Three new areas will extend iTeach:  Education for Sustainable Development, Placements and Students as Partners.

Join your colleagues today – take a look and we hope iTeach is a useful source of support for your teaching and your students’ learning.

 

Jaye McIsaac