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Barriers and Benefactors for for Overseas Students Clare O’Donoghue (Arts and Ed) & Stephen Burbidge (EIS)

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Middlesex University T&L Conference 2012


Page 1: Track A O'Donoghue

Barriers and Benefactors forfor Overseas Students

Clare O’Donoghue (Arts and Ed) & Stephen Burbidge (EIS)

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Overview Motivation for Study Study Methodology Empirical Results Implications for Supporting


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Motivation for the Study Anecdotal observation and

counselling students Personal experience of working

and living abroad Rich pictures EIS

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Finance dept


Student id card

How many classes a week

What type of transport is avail

How many hrs can i work

Part time job

What's my time table

Which building

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Summary Rich Pictures

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Results: Rich Pictures

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The Study Methodology 1 Questionnaire designed and piloted Questionnaire administered to 68

overseas Mdx students in four groups:

PG EIS MSc students (n=6) PG Arts and ED MA students (n=9) PG Pre-sessional students (n= 28) International Foundation students


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The Questionnaire 1 Personal Data: (Nationality, L1, number of

previous visits to the UK) Educational context in which English

was learnt (School MFL, Language of instruction school / university, Private EFL, Family language, other)

Types of academic assessment in L1 and L2 (MCQs, short answer, paragraph, short (2-500), medium (2-5,000) long (5-10,000) assignments, dissertation, orals, artefact)

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The Questionnaire 2 Accommodation on arrival in

London and during study period Anxieties before coming to Mdx Anxieties / problems occurring

whilst studying at Mdx Factors attributed with supporting

students’ success Open-ended comments section

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Results: NationalitiesNationalities Libya





Sri Lanka












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Previous Visits to UK

Previous Visits to UK

First Visit

1 Previous Visit

2 -3 Previous visits

4 Previous visits

5-9 Previous visits

10+ Previous visits

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Results: How English Learnt

Q6. How English Learnt

MFL at School

School Lang of Instruction

Uni Lang of Instruction

Private EFL School

Family Lang


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Results: L1 Assessment Types

Q.10 L1 Assessment TypesMCQs

Short Answer Tests

Paragraph Writing

Short Text (200 - 500 words)

Medium Text Writing (2,000 -5,000 words)

Long Text Writing (5,000 -10,000 words)

Dissertations (10,000+ words)

Oral Presentations

Oral Exam



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Results: English Assessment Types

Q.10 L2 Assessment TypesMCQs

Short Answer Tests

Paragraph Writing

Short Text Writing (200-500words)Medium Text Writing (2,000 -5,000 words)Long Text Writing (5,000-10,000words)Dissertation

Oral Presentation

Oral Exam



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Results: Anxieties Prior to UK

Pre-Arrival AnxietiesMiss Family

Miss Friends

Miss Pet

New Climate

New Culture

Big City


New Friends

New Food

Communicate in English

New Edu Context


Write EAP

Pass Course

Course Content

Cost London

Job London

Racism London

Crime London

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Pre-Arrival Anxieties that Came True

Pre-Arrival Anxieties that Came True Lonely


Miss Family / Partner

Miss Friends

Miss Pet




New Friends

New Food

Communicate English

New Edu Context

Lectures / Seminars in English

Writing EAP

Pass Course

Course Content

Cost London

Job London

Racism London

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Results: Anxieties / Problems whilst at Middlesex

Anxieties / Problems whilst at Middlesex

Money Worries


Family Problems Back Home

Family Responsibilities UK

Job & Study

Lectures Hard

Seminars Hard

Feel Isolated in Study Group

Access Learning Materials

Assessed Group Work

Writing EAP

Independent Research

Formal Exams

Computer / Software Problems

Visa Worries

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Results: Factors Supporting Success

Factors Supporting Success Family / Partner Support

Friends' Support

Sponsor's Support

Tutor Support

Peer Support

Personal Motivation

Personal Organisation

Good Accommodation

Financial Security

Access Learning Resources

Regular Class Attendance

Clear Lectures /Seminars

Programme / ModuleHandbooks


Clear Task Instructions

Formative Feedback Drafts

LDU workshops

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Results:Initial Accommodation

Q7. Accommodation UK

Close Family

Extended Family

Family Friends

Own Friends

Student Halls


House Share

Rented Apartment


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Results: Later Accommodation

Changed Accommodation During Stay

Stayed in Intial Accommodation

Changed Accommodation

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Student Comments 1 Excitement and apprehension on arrival Culture Shock and homesickness

(exacerbated by weather) Loneliness and making new friends with

classmates and room-mates; finding fellow nationals

Importance of friendly support from tutors Strength from religious faith to persevere

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Student Comments 2 Sense of privilege for opportunity

to study abroad Awareness of personal growth and

professional development

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Tutor Comments / Observations Lack of engagement caused by financial

difficulties, severe homesickness Culture and educational shock causes

underlying mental health issues to rise to the fore

Lack of adaptation to new learning environment – can lead to frustration, futile repeating of successful behaviours from previous educational experience, loss of face, questioning self-efficacy

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Implications 1 Academic English Assessments

Transparent genre and Discourse Community conventions

QAA recommendations to make anonymised examples of past students’ work available as models

Importance of formative feedback on drafts Fear of having to write long assignments in

L2 when have little experience of extended writing in any language – can lead to academic dishonesty in desperation

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Implications 2 Isolation and group cohesion

Tutor can foster seminar group cohesion through use of initial ice-breakers; warmers / lead-ins that combine ‘getting to know you’ activities with subject knowledge; organising and manipulating group work combinations; horseshoe seating; encouraging peer name learning

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Implications 3 Roles and responsibilities students

and tutors Cultural variation (Chinese students =

young; UK students = adults) Collectivist / Individualist attitude to

work and achievement (academic misconduct-collusion)

Locus of control and responsibility for success

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Thank You

Any Questions?