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Re-constructing “culture of learning” – international student experiences in China and the UK.

Foster, Monika; Macdonald, Iain; Firth, Richard; Zhou, Vivien


Monika Foster

Iain Macdonald


Following previous Teaching Fellows funding to undertake a joint research project between Business School and the School of Arts & Creative Industries we would like to present our findings at the HEA Annual Conference this year. Using the results from a study of UK and Chinese students studying abroad, we aim to contribute to a discussion of how students’ perceptions of the cultures of learning develop and change as higher education becomes more globalised and how this impacts on programme design and study abroad initiatives.

Our oral presentation is aligned with the ‘Future is Global’ theme of the conference. In an cross-disciplinary study involving Design and Business academics and their students, the authors examined the learning experiences of students (originally from China) studying in the UK and students (originally from the UK) studying in China by adopting an alternative approach: the “small-culture” approach.

This study goes beyond existing understandings of ‘cultures of learning’ linked to China and the UK by opening perspectives on individual experiences to form insights that move from an essentialist view. The intention is to identify areas of support that universities can provide for students participating in such internationalised education. With aspects of intercultural empathy and an inclusive, flexible learning ethos it could also inform initiatives for increased student mobility at university and beyond.

The oral presentation will involve authors who will present a qualitative exploration of verbal and visual data generated by different methodologies to engage the audience. Evidence from recorded interviews and student blogs, will support a discussion on the future of an inclusive, flexible learning ethos, intercultural empathy and improved global learning experiences.

This research will have impact on how HE institutions prepare and develop exchange programmes which the authors hope will lead to improvement in the quality of student learning experiences for exchange students abroad and at home. The aim is to try to humanise and make accessible what in the first instance could be a daunting opportunity, particularly for any student who may be leaving home for the first time. Through an analysis of individual accounts of first hand experience we hope to help academics re-focus or re-examine their understanding and attitudes to international exchange. The authors hope that this will have a positive impact on developing other or additional value systems to HE programmes, teaching methodologies and principles.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name HEA Annual Conference ‘Preparing for learning futures: the next ten years’.
Start Date Jul 2, 2014
End Date Jul 2, 2014
Publication Date Jul 2, 2014
Deposit Date Jun 11, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 11, 2015
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Internationalisation; China; cultures of learning;
Public URL


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