Being an international student

Being an international student
Pippa Whitton and Andy Holbrook
INTO University of Exeter
Foundation → meeting
needs of students studying
at university?
Research question
How closely and effectively aligned is the teaching in
INTO with the needs of our students going to study as
undergraduates in Exeter University?
• Baleap (‘the global forum for EAP
professionals’) tracking project
• ≈ 400 Foundation students
→ 60-70% UoE
1st & 2nd year
Focus groups /
1st - 3rd year
INTO → University of Exeter
Questionnaire Dec 2011 (open Qs)
Useful, not useful, gaps (on Foundation):
Various skills - esp RSS and WTG (useful)
Very varied – WTG, novels, culture (gaps)
Differences/challenges (at university):
1st year – independent study
2nd year – similar + writing essays
Useful: ‘Referencing Conventions gave us a
head start compared to the English students.
As it meant that we were not worried about
plagiarising.’ 1st year
‘Reading and note-taking - we have lots of
reading to do when writing an essay’ 2nd year
Not useful: ‘Note taking because my subject do
not need it…’ 1st year
Gaps: ‘discussion rather than oral presentation
for exam’ 1st year
Questionnaire March 2012: Useful (17 x 1st yr)
Questionnaire March 2012: Useful (12 x 2nd yr)
Quest March 2012: not useful (11 x 1st yr)
Quest March 2012: not useful (7 x 2nd yr)
Comments: Foundation
1st year - not challenged (one st)
Not useful
1st year - emphasis on ‘formalized’ writing (one st)
1st year – time mgt, note-taking prep for lectures, gp work
2nd year – writing, group work, searching for sources
Comments: at university
1st year - more indep’ study/less like school (±), harder
(one st ‘less pressure’?), more reading
2nd year – more self-study, less T-st interaction, group
work, more stressful
1st year – language, self-study/control, referencing
2nd year - time management, understanding articles &
Developments on Foundation English
• More explicit & staged approach to developing
note-taking & paraphrasing/summarising
critical thinking
independent learning
• More collaborative work (group presentations,
Semi-structured – focus groups of 2-4
• Could tell us about the main challenges you have faced studying
at university?
• In what ways do you think the Foundation course prepared you
for university well?
• In what ways could the Foundation course have prepared you
• What are the main differences between studying on the
Foundation course and in the University.
Focus groups threw up many of the same
challenges in university studies already
• Time management
• Lectures
• Reading
• Exams
Focus groups also mentioned
Integration with native speaker students
Personal tutorials
Team-based presentations and essays
In general
• the same issues that many younger undergraduate students
– Transition to a much less supportive learning environment
– Dealing with very large amounts of reading
– Managing time for independent learning
– Increasing levels of personal critical response
– Effective, advance preparation for lectures, seminars and
– Team-working skills
– Writing well structured academic essays
Good practice
• Putting lecture recordings and power points on to ELE. (power
points a week or two in advance).
• Working on the development of team-working skills
• Supporting effective time-management strategies
• Supporting good study skills through ELE
• Supportive personal tutorial system
• Providing a manageable single text in advance of lectures
• Audited reading lists
• The ‘global chum’ initiative
Good practice (cont)
• Ensuring International students have adequate representation
on SSLCs
• Joining university societies
• Actively encouraging students to participate in study groups
• Using the opportunity for multi-cultural exchange in a positive
Implications for INTO
• Need to look at our CPD
– More general awareness of academic culture in staff
– Greater understanding of blended learning techniques
– Greater understanding of how to instil criticality
• Need to look at our courses
– More on team-working
– More on study skills and time management
– Promote greater awareness of the demands of university
Other issues
• Quantity & type of reading
• Level of support