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Approaches to studying for learning at university.

In conversation with: Christopher Barnatt, Stephanie Bridges, Chris Ennew, Ting Lu (School of Law), Nicola Pitchford. Produced: November 2009; Duration: 4 minutes : 10 seconds.

Stephanie Bridges:
I thought, well, in a minute, you know, we've done all this sort of paper planning and people and equipment but what about the students? What's it gong to be like when they suddenly join the third year? How is it going to go? How are they going to find it being, you know, parachuting in to the midst of a course with all these other students who are used to our system, have their friendships that are used to the staff here, that are used to the school? And that's what really made me start thinking about and reading about the different cultures, different learning styles, different nationalities.

Ting Lu:
I came to this country last September frankly that was my first time overseas so that was really a big time and I used to study Law in China and I came here for Masters degree of Law The biggest difference is we need to read loads of papers here and before the seminar you have to prepare yourself well otherwise you cannot understand what the lecturers are talking about in the class so it was really a big, how do you say, a big task and a catch-up for me to finish all those papers and readings before the seminar.

Chris Barnatt:
I think there is often a conflict of expectation, what education is about and it's certainly the case that students from a European or American background are much more likely to engage opening in discussion without much, you know, help to do that. Whereas you will frequently find students from, particularly China and South East Asia much more likely to have a referential view of people teaching them, a referential view of the literature.

The way I try to work with it is never just give them one perspective with a piece of literature. So try and find things either in two bits of work given to a different perspective and try and weigh it in the article itself and say "look don't just accept their conclusion try and come up with your own".

Or more commonly you have to actually say well here's an article that says this, and here's an article that says that. They can't both be right because they're saying completely different points of view and you use that as a way of opening it up.

Stephanie Bridges:
I think there's also ways that students are comfortable or the way that they see learning should be done, whether it should be done as a single activity or whether it should be done as a group activity and perhaps why, why work in a group in class, surely, you know, the class the time of the lecture is the time for learning facts and for the lecturer to give their views and their opinions and to tell you the facts, Or with group work, well, why should we discuss this sort of, in valuable class time? And that maybe group work should be done outside of the learning time, or the time for the lecturer to teach you, as it were.

Chris Ennew:
I'm not sure that our first year undergraduates that come from the UK system are in any sense different from students who come from India, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia or China. And bear in mind, of course, that a lot of the international undergraduates who come have actually been through an UK system because they've done A levels in the UK or they've done foundation programmes. So I suspect that lack of awareness of HE is probably not about nationality, it's just about the differences between school level education and university level education, and that's something where we need to pay attention to setting expectations across all groups not just across subgroups.

Nicola Pitchford:
what I think is that it's important to get students actively thinking about the topics that I'm talking about and how it relates to them, and how it might relate to them as well when they leave the university.

Short paper

Learning in university: the role of university teachers: Earlier literature on teaching international students in higher education focused on helping students to adapt to the dominant ("our") learning cultures (Ballard and Clanchy, 1997i) and viewed differences between home and international students as deficits. This paper briefly focuses on the later work of contributions to higher education teaching, specifically John Biggs (2003) an educational psychologist and former Professor at the University of Hong Kong, and various other writers. All of these writers argue that cross-cultural teaching should focus on the universality of the learning process rather than on pedagogical and cultural differences.
... more from Learning in university: the role of university teachers.

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Teaching at Nottingham website resource Vague expectations and diverse preferences: a study of ... "The increased number of students in higher education has coincided with a shift …"   (Jan 2008)

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Dr Rachel Scudamore

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