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中国在英留学生调查研究A Study of Chinese Students in the UK--英国论文代写范文精选

2015-11-24 | 来源:51Due教员组 | 类别:更多范文

中国在英留学生调查研究 A Study of Chinese Students in the UK

1.0  Introduction引言
This article explores the way tertiary level Chinese students in the UK adapt, in varying degrees, to their new learning and living environment. A questionnaire and interview study that includes both Chinese students and their British teachers attempts to ascertain key issues with a view to helping sojourning students adapt to their environment, and to guiding teachers in offering them a more appropriate learning experience. The need for mutuality of understanding and action is stressed. Evidence from both interviews and the questionnaire survey suggests that, personal, pedagogical and psychological factors are equally important in influencing the intercultural adaptation process and outcomes. Early results show that despite various intercultural challenges and struggles, most students have managed to survive the demands of the learning and living environment, and to adapt and develop.

1.1  Background to the Study 研究背景
The number of Chinese students studying in UK rose to a record level of 25,000 in 2003 (The Independent, 2003), making them the biggest single national group of overseas students in UK tertiary institutions. Between 1998 and 2002 there was a 12-fold increase in applications from China (UCAS, 2004). This increase was chiefly the result of the booming Chinese economy, and of the British universities’aggressive worldwide marketing of British tertiary education. This rapid increase in Chinese student numbers has not been without its problems however. Many, if not most, British lecturers have had little or no training in how to effectively teach overseas students in these numbers. Most Chinese students have never before had to adjust to an alternative teaching and learning style. The encounter is therefore rich with possibilities for misunderstanding, stress and failure. There is thus a clear need for studies such as this present one, to attempt to understand better, and ultimately to remedy the situation. The consequences of widespread dissatisfaction on the part of students, and of disaffection on the part of teachers would be dire, both for the British Universities, which are now dependent to a degree on such students for income, and for the students, who have come to UK at considerable cost to their families and sponsors.(51Due编辑:cari)


2.0  The Nature of Intercultural Experience
The internationalisation of higher education has seen institutions of higher education become active players in the global marketplace (de Wit, 2002: 227). In the UK, Tony Blair’s speech on opening ‘a window on the world’ in 1999 launched the British Government’s long-term world wide educational campaign. It is within such a context that the study explores the intercultural experiences of Chinese students at British universities, and investigates the pedagogical, sociocultural and psychological challenges that they have encountered.

We argue that an analytical, empathetic and reflexive attitude is important for teachers and researchers working across cultural borders. Our title,‘changing places’, may refer to geographical displacement, but we also take it to mean the ability of teachers and researchers to step outside their own habitual norms and values in order to better understand and appreciate the difficulties, and the victories, of their students. Changing their vantage point in this way we believe this to be one of the best ways of approaching the teaching /learning context which we shall be investigating in this study. This kind of intercultural competence can be defined as ‘a willingness to suspend belief in one’s own meanings and behaviours, and to analyse them from the viewpoint of the others with whom one is engaging’ (Byram, 1997: 34).

The ability to find what Kramsch calls ‘third places’, from which we can critically and compassionately observe both cultures, is clearly crucial (Kramsch, 1993: 23357). To do this, we need to ‘decentre from one’s own taken-for-granted point of view. . .first, before trying to reconstruct other peoples’ frames of reference, using their point of view, or looking at other cultures’ (Forsman, 2005: 4). This may have some unexpected outcomes. As Heusinkvelt (1997: 489) points out, ‘indeed the greatest shock may not be in the encounter with a different culture but in the recognition of how our own culture has shaped us and what we do.’(51Due编辑:cari)

The notion of intercultural, as opposed to cross-cultural experiences which inherently stresses differences and diversity, ‘encompasses both domestic and international contexts and implies cultures interacting’ (Landreman, 2003, cited in King and Baxter Magolda, 2005: 572). However, they are not mutually exclusive. Berger and Luckmann (1966) and Paulston (1992) observe that some aspects of cultural beliefs and values are beyond modification or ‘integration’ and will never be completely abandoned for another (see also Byram, 2003). Thus, the degrees of adaptation  the process through which an actor changes to fit in with the host culture  differs depending upon personal and situational factors and their interaction. Individuals may develop ‘proficiency in self-expression and in fulfilling their various social needs’ in the host culture (Kim, 2005: 391), whilst continuing to experience a sense of boundary or ‘otherness’

 when confronted with conflicting values and beliefs. Studies on overseas students’ intercultural adaptation have reported numerous transitional and adaptive challenges that overseas students face. Cushner and Karim (2004: 292) argue that a study-abroad experience is ‘a significant transitional event that brings with it a considerable amount of accompanying stress, involving both confrontation and adaptation to unfamiliar physical and psychological experiences and changes’. Particular stresses that confront overseas students include culture shock (Adler, 1975, 1985; Oberg, 1960; Ward, et al., 2001), learning shock (Gu, 2005) or education shock (Hoff, 1979; Yamazaki, 2005), language shock (Agar, 1996; Smalley, 1963) and role shock (Byrnes, 1966; Minkler and Biller, 1979). Cushner and Karim (2004) maintain that overseas students’intercultural experiences are moderated by the interaction of multiple, positive or negative, individual (e.g. age,  gender, ethnicity) and environmental factors (e.g. social and academic support systems). Nevertheless, when successful, intercultural experience can be a transformative learning process which leads to a journey of personal growth and development (Adler, 1975; Anderson, 1994; Byrnes, 1965; Furnham, 2004).

2.1  The Role of Culture  Is It Deterministic?

Interest in what constitutes culture, its deep-rootedness and its unspoken assumptions has been increasing over recent decades as the phenomenon of ‘sojourning’ (taking up temporary residence in another culture) has become more common. One of the significant earlier commentators is Hall (1959, 1966, 1976). Hall’s notion of ‘hidden cultures’ is particularly pertinent for educationalists working to understand the interactions between learners and teachers who do not share the same cultural background: Everything man is and does is modified by learning and is therefore malleable. But once learned, these behaviour patterns, these habitual responses, these ways of interacting gradually sink below the surface of the mind and, like the commander of a submerged submarine fleet, control from the depths. The hidden controls are usually experienced as though they were innate simply because they are not only ubiquitous but habitual as well. What makes it doubly hard to differentiate the innate from the acquired is the fact that, as people grow up, everyone around them shares the same patterns. (Hall, 1976: 42) The implications are clear in regard to the interaction (or confrontation)between teachers, who see their way of teaching as self-evidently normal and beneficial, and students, whose learning culture has been derived from a quite different set of cultural presuppositions. What is regarded as common sense, natural and beneficial in one culture may be viewed as highly idiosyncratic, psychologically uncomfortable, and counter-intuitive in another. Therein lies part of the problem. The consequences of cultural encounters are all too evident in the welldocumented phenomenon of culture shock. Hofstede (1986) and Seelye (1988) are two of the regiment of writers on the subject. Hofstede’s (1980, 1991, 2001) four dimensions of cultural variability contributes to understanding of cultural differences in thinking and social behaviour not only in the educational arena, but in the management of everyday life experiences. However, important though it may be, culture is not the only determinant of teaching and learning practices, preferences and experiences. All too easily we can fall into the trap of cultural stereotyping. The phrase ‘the Chinese earner’ (Watkins and Biggs, 1996; Watkins and Biggs, 2001) carries the implication that this group of learners is homogeneous, and that their needs for and responses to education (and life) are totally culturally determined. However, it is clear that, other factors are at least as influential: the backgrounds and aspirations of learners, their specific motivation for learning, the settings in which the interactions take place, and the nature of the relationship between teachers and learners. In particular, the cultural blinkersmay screen out the importance of the individual personality of learners.(51Due编辑:cari)
Gu and Schweisfurth (2006) carried out a mixed method of comparative pilot study on Chinese learners’ experiences in the UK and in British projects in China and found that in addition to culture, factors such as the identities and motivations of the learners and the power relationships between them and their teachers were also significant issues in the strategic adaptations made by
Chinese students. We shall therefore, take the view that, while ‘the Chinese learner’ may have certain identifiable characteristics, some of them related to culture, they may also learn and behave differently in different contexts, in ways related more to personal needs and situational demands.
It is also important to keep in mind that cultural encounters are not invariably negative in nature. As Furnham (2004: 18) notes: It is certainly worth noting that for many students the ‘overseas’
experience is enormously beneficial and can shape their outlook for the rest of their lives. Many say it was one of their most profound life experiences, leaving them very positively disposed . . .
Whatever negative culture shock they may have experienced early on was soon overcome, and mostly only positive experiences recalled. We shall therefore be highly interested in finding out which factors seem to promote this positive adaptation.

3.0  The Study
The study involves the collection of both qualitative and quantitative data. The questionnaires were collected from Chinese students on (i) graduate English courses (preparation courses for postgraduate studies); (ii) foundation courses (preparation courses for undergraduate studies); and (iii) undergraduate and postgraduate courses. Sections 14 of the questionnaire, using a Likert six-point scale (see Appendix 1), were designed to elicit students’ reactions to their university, their teachers, their life as a student, and their ability to organise their work and life. The results provided some quantitative basis for evaluation. Questions 59 offered students the opportunity to record more open-ended, discursive, reflective comments on their impressions. Questions with regard to students’ English levels and understanding of the English culture were designed to test the influence of language and culture on the adaptation of sojourning students to their environment. This qualitative data was then supplemented by a number of semistructured interviews with students. The questionnaires and the interviews were all given in Chinese to facilitate ease of expression. To date, the student questionnaires have been collected from 163 Chinese students in four universities and colleges. The interview subjects include 13 Chinese undergraduate and postgraduate students in 10 universities and two groups of students (a total of 28 students) from the questionnaire sample. Differences in experiences and attitudes of these two ‘types’ of students, i.e. degree students and foundation students, help to reveal the extent to which age/maturity may impact on students’ intercultural adjustment and academic Performance. Further triangulation is provided by semi-structured interviews with British lecturers, probing their personal impressions and experiences of the Chinese students they are teaching. Ten British lecturers (including foundation course lecturers and postgraduate lecturers) have so far been interviewed.(51Due编辑:cari)

3.1  Reflexivity and insider/outsider perspectives
The qualitative strand of this study exhibits strong iconicity in that the intercultural theme of the research is embedded and reflected in the process of the investigation by authors whose own backgrounds and experiences span different cultures and combine insider and outsider perspectives. The exercise of reflexivity strategies is at the heart of this multi-perspective investigation. According to Pillow (2003), reflexivity is a strategy through which one achieves self-awareness, recognises the voices of the other, gathers truth, and through transcending their own subjectivity and cultural context, releases themselves from the weight of misrepresentation for accuracy in reporting. In intercultural research, the value of reflexivity strategies lies not only in helping increase the researcher’s sensitivity to differences but also in arousing his/her awareness of the taken-for-granted, ‘hidden’ values and phenomena. Shah argues that ‘the insider-as well as the outsider-researcher, are both constrained by their subjective positions, which can be fragmented and multipled, with significance for data collection’ (2004: 569). In this study, the insider and outsider perspectives are critically combined in a continuous interactive process of making and negotiating meaning between the authors. Their different personal, professional and ethnic backgrounds form an important basis for establishing an intercultural relationship between them. Such a relationship constantly exposes them to ‘the otherness’ and positions them on a cultural binary scale, whilst at the same time provides the sharing of a frame of reference for their self-examination and self-reflection, and facilitates their endeavour to see and perceive the reality through a different lens. The interaction between insider and outsider perspectives enhances an in-depth understanding of the intercultural experiences of the informants, minimises the subjective constraints as observed by Shah in intercultural research, and consolidates a distinctive methodological strength of this study

3.2  Beyond Frustration: Adaptation and Development
Intercultural adaptation is essentially ‘a process of learning and recovery’, as Lewthwaite (1996: 169) observes in his literature review in this field: Typically an international student is on a step by step psychological journey from the periphery of a culture to the centre, from a state ofignorance and resentment to a position of understanding and empathy. . . For international students, such adaptation involves a process of learning and integrating into not only an ‘alien’social society (living) but also a foreign academic culture (studying). Academic adaptation and development In this current study, the large majority of the Chinese learners, as confirmed by their British lecturers/tutors, reported positive adaptation and development in their academic studies. The data revealed three key aspects of improvement:(51Due编辑:cari)
(1) improved linguistic competence;
(2) increased self-confidence and more involvement in class interaction; and
(3) a stronger sense of independence in learning. Improved linguistic competence In his study of international students’ perspectives on cross-cultural adaptation, Lewthwaite (1996) noted that:236 Language and Intercultural Communication


The great frustration for all these international students was that they felt a lack of confidence in their English language ability to contribute in lectures or seminars, even though a strong motivation to do so existed. Given this, it may not be surprising to see that the Chinese students in this study were most pleased with their improved language proficiency amongst all the other ‘good things’ about their study in the UK. Coleman (2004: 582) sees improved linguistic skills as the single most expected gain of studying abroad: Study abroad is often integrated into degrees in modern languages. . .in the belief that extended immersion in a society where the target language is used every day will enhance the learner’s proficiency, especially oral-aural skills and less formal registers. Increased self-confidence and more involvement in class interaction In our study, the questionnaire respondents suggested that they felt more relaxed in class and were able to enjoy more the learning environment in the classroom. The majority of the Chinese students (78%) enjoyed their tutors ‘heuristic’ approaches to teaching whereby the transmission of knowledge was permeated in the teacherstudent interaction. They described their tutors as caring, patient and encouraging’ who helped to improve their study skills, competence, confidence and creativity. They also liked working collaboratively with other overseas students and expressed their immense pride in themselves for their contribution to class discussions.
Becoming more active in class discussions is an important change in Chinese students’ approaches to learning. It requires their conscious effort to overcome the potential ‘danger’ of losing face in front of their peers if they fail to speak in perfectly accurate English. This adaptation process also requires a continual effort in these students to gradually alter their long-term learning
habits that could well have consolidated in their years of teacher-centred, classroom-based and textbook-focused educational training in China. The quote from a postgraduate lecturer describes his students’ positive change in learning

4.0  Conclusion
Clearly, this study is in its early stages, but there is sufficient in what has been discussed above to warrant some tentative conclusions. There is on the whole a strong motivation among Chinese students to adapt and develop, both as students and as individuals, and there is a great awareness among British teachers of their role in helping to bring about this development. This motivation is likely, of course, to have some of its origins in culture. The influence of the Confucian tradition, and its relation to high learner motivation and respect for teachers has been widely acknowledged (Cummings, 1996; Wing On, 1996). This helps to explain why these diverse groups of Chinese learners have demonstrated such perseverance and willingness to adapt themselves to the learning environment. However, they define their own motivations in slightly different terms which complement and go well beyond a narrow cultural model. Murphy-Lejeune (2003: 113) describes the experience of adaptation and learning abroad as ‘a maturing process’‘Rather than a total personality change, this process takes on the shape of a personal expansion, an opening of one’s potential universe.’ We argue that, the driving force and essential qualities learners require to achieve such ‘personal expansion’ are more significant and go well beyond cultural models. The findings all suggest that it is the interaction of these learners with their particular living and studying environments that facilitates change. This suggests not only that constructs shaped by culture can be changed, but that the nature of each individual’s motivations and experiences are major factors. This is in contrast to deterministic notions of culture and learner. It is perhaps appropriate to close with the quotation below from another Chinese postgraduate student, which indicates more profound change. Her studying experience in the UK is shown to have broadened her mind and led to an in-depth personal and professional change, or perhaps more appropriately, Growth. The biggest change, I think, is that I am beginning to think of what to do after I graduate and what to do for my society. While I have never thought of it before, I think it might be part of the culture shock or kind of, . . .you know, now I am living in a foreign country, the culture shock(51Due编辑:cari)
or cultural differences could be quite shocking and depressing for me, which makes me think about myself. What is my position? Here in the UK or back in China? And what can I do with my studies? And that is maybe the most important for me. (Chinese student E)




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