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Think and Learn Rich: Accelerated Learning in Higher Education by George Saridakis

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Show related SlideShares at end. WordPress Shortcode. Although there is some suggestion that international students perceive greater discrimination in the broader community than at their educational institutions, this is not strongly supported by empirical evidence. Burke surveyed international students at the University of New South Wales Sydney and commented that students experienced lower levels of personal discrimination on campus, but were subjected to "some racial harassment of an impersonal and anonymous kind" off campus.

Mullins, Quintrell and Hancock quantified this in their study of university students in Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. Studies with tertiary students suggest that major support networks are found within the educational setting and that there is relatively superficial contact with members of the larger community. Only 7. Home stays are more central to the experience of secondary school students, and Aston's study suggests that they are often a source of significant distress. Frequently cited reasons were: problems with home stay families and location of premises. Unhappiness over home stays was commonly cited as an area of concern by Asian parents, and students maintained that the most important factor that schools could take into account when arranging home stays was tolerance of different customs.

While it has been suggested that international student exchanges involving host families help to foster cross-cultural awareness in the community Jardine, , there has been no systematic evaluation of these claims. Although it is suggested that these strengthen international awareness in the host community, there has been no systematic evaluation of these activities to document the claims.

The relationship between international students and the communities in which they reside has attracted some discussion in the international education literature, but little research.

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Despite the need to learn more about the dynamics of these interactions, most investigations of cross-national relations have been confined to educational institutions. This trend clearly merits further attention, particularly given that for some international students e. In the main very little is known about the integration of international students into the larger community. Research is inconclusive as to whether prejudice and discrimination encountered there are more problematic than within the educational setting.

Home stays have been suggested to offer the opportunity for fostering intercultural relations and increasing intercultural understanding; however, some data indicate that these arrangements are a significant source of stress for international students. Positive aspects of community programmes have also been described in the literature; however, these have largely been developed and reported on in an ad hoc fashion and have not been systematically evaluated.

This section reviews some strategies that have been used, evaluated and proven to foster positive intercultural perceptions and relations. Peer-pairing or "buddy" systems are one of the most frequently adopted schemes to assist international students to adapt to their new environments. They have been used for the general international student population e.

Abe, Talbot and Geelhoed found that international students who participated in peer programmes were better adjusted socially than those who did not. Quintrell and Westwood reported that peer-paired international students appear better integrated into their educational environment and are more likely to make use of institutional support services. Peer programmes are frequently used to facilitate intercultural interactions. Research by Westwood and Barker , who implemented and evaluated peer-pairing programmes in Australia and Canada, provides an example of this.

In their research local peers were recruited and trained in a range of roles: cultural interpreters, facilitators and information givers, referral agents, confidants and friends. Participating students met minimally twice a month, and common types of contact involved study skills, accessing facilities and services, family invitations, travel, sport and recreation, entertainment, social activities, and referrals. Programme evaluations confirmed that international students who chose to participate in the peer-pairing had higher academic averages across three years of university study.

They also had a stronger preference for interacting with local students than those who had not participated in the programme. It should be noted, however, that pre-participation indicators of academic performance and social interactions were not taken before the peer-pairing commenced, and as students chose to participate in the scheme, rather than having been randomly assigned to conditions, the possibility that pre-existing differences contributed to the findings cannot be eliminated. Unfortunately this study did not report the effects of peer-pairing programmes on domestic students although Westwood, Lawrance and McBlane described anticipated long and short term benefits for hosts in an earlier paper, and Quintrell , personal communication suggested that the effects may be even more positive for local than international students.

Suggested benefits include: increased cultural awareness and sensitivity, establishment of international friendships, and opportunities for future work, travel and study abroad. Some of these suggestions appear to be borne out in research by Legge and Allemeh. Legge's study at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology cited in Smart, Volet and Ang, reported that the most commonly expressed outcome of their peer-pairing programme was greater social contact among students.

Allameh's report on peer programmes set up for both secondary and tertiary students documented a wide range of positive comments from the local students. The experience was very rewarding to me because it gave me the chance to experience a different culture first hand p. I realise for the first time that all the ideas and concepts that I have learned about other cultures are not just stories but actual facts. I think that even though I have talked about cultural differences in some of my classes, I never really stopped to realise what I was learning is going on in the present p.

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The American way is not the only way to do things. Our way is not always better! In some instances peer-pairing has been found to have course-specific effects for domestic students. Bigelow's description of a peer-pairing programme for second and third year MBA students found that one of the most significant advantages noted by local students was an insight into cross-cultural management.

In addition to an increase in specific knowledge areas, it has been suggested that peer-pairing can also have psychological benefits for its participants. Kennedy and Dewars noted that local peers assumed an important role in the educational system and suggested that assisting NESB students may positively affect self-esteem. Black similarly noted that local students appreciated the opportunity to act as peer tutors and appraised the activity as a valuable learning experience.

The low levels of intercultural contact in social domains is largely reflected in classroom activities. Although culturally mixed groups offer the opportunity for increased contact and intercultural learning, research reveals that these types of groups rarely form spontaneously. Volet and Ang's research in an Australian university suggests that Australians prefer low levels of contact with Asian students- despite the positive outcomes of such interactions. To explore the outcomes of cooperative learning in culturally diverse groups Volet and Ang interviewed 40 second year business students who participated in group projects.

These students were required to complete two assignments in self-selected groups of up to four students. Two groups were composed of Australian students only and three of international students. Although six groups were mixed, they were constituted more by "chance than choice," with students generally missing the previous tutorial where the groups were originally formed.

After completion of assignments students participated in focus group discussions about culturally mixed groups and any changes experienced in those conditions. Both Australian and international students initially preferred working in "their own" groups.


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This was due to four major reasons:. Sometimes it's easier to talk to people who come from the same country p. Sometimes we don't understand what they are saying and sometimes they don't understand what we are saying p.

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We don't have families here so we can spend much more time studying p. After working in culturally mixed groups, however, students realised their stereotyped views, that cultural differences may not be as important as individual differences, and that misperceptions can be corrected. As indicated by an Australian student's comment:. With opportunities to work together, perceptions change p.


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Despite these positive outcomes, Australian students were not ready to be proactive in seeking mixed group activities. Their comments largely reflected a willingness but not a strong interest in working with international students. I would not go out of my way to work with them, but I would not avoid it p. Students appeared comfortable with culturally mixed group work. As expressed by one Australian student:. We have had group activities where we are mixed up and things have worked fine so I think it was good that teachers did it like that p.

Smart, Volet and Ang reported similar results. In their research 17 students 8 international and 9 local at Murdoch University were interviewed, and most expressed positive attitudes about working in culturally mixed groups. However, it is interesting to note that the local students in this research were selected on the basis of their appointment as student representatives in the Student Residential Village; therefore, they already experienced a reasonably high level of contact with international students.

Indeed, there is wider evidence to suggest that cross-cultural experience is generally associated with positive attitudes toward participating in culturally mixed groups. Volet's study found that Australian students with experience of "crossing cultural borders" were more likely to be found in spontaneously occurring mixed groups. Despite the general resistance to working in culturally mixed groups, there is considerable evidence that this practice produces positive academic and social benefits.

Rzoska and Ward , for example, found more intercultural friendship choices among Maori and Samoan children who had been exposed to cooperative rather than competitive group learning conditions in Christchurch schools. Ziegler documented improvements in intercultural relations among Canadian children of Anglo, Italian, Chinese, Greek and West Indian heritage.

In addition, Warring, Johnson, Maruyama and Johnson's research found that relationships formed under cooperative learning conditions extended to other social activities at school. Shachar and Amir have discussed the effectiveness of cooperative learning, which they refer to as a "school integration approach" in contrast with conventional teaching methods and in relation to the contact theory of intergroup relations.

They argue that more traditional teaching is often based on an assumption of "sameness" where diversity cultural, ethnic or ability is frequently perceived as an impediment to academic progress. Such an approach advocates initial assessment of students' abilities, followed by assignment to ability groups, and adapting subject material, usually presented in traditional frontal type of whole-class instruction.

In contrast to this, the integration approach is based on the assumption that diversity constitutes an opportunity for student and teacher enrichment. The teaching methods adopted are informed by contact theory that requires intergroup interactions to be characterised by:. Given the analysis offered by Sachar and Amir it is apparent that cooperative learning methods hold great potential for enhancing academic performance and increasing social cohesion among international and domestic students.