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International students need to overcome many hurdles to become a student in a university in the United States. In addition to the university application process, students must successfully demonstrate English language proficiency by way of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exams. Additionally, international students must successfully complete the visa application process and find funding for full tuition with limited financial aid resources.

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Once successfully admitted to DU, international students face cultural and linguistic challenges and adjustments, adherence to immigration regulations and academic integrity requirements on top of family pressure to succeed. This overall acclimation process can take many months for the new international student to understand and accept. After international students begin their studies, they are often surprised to see how different classroom expectations and behaviors are in a U. S. university setting. Several of these differences are expectations regarding student active learning and dialogic participation, and the student/instructor relationship.

Practical Ways to Improve Communication

It is important to be aware of and make a conscious effort to effectively communicate with international students by:

  • Choosing words carefully.
  • Avoiding the use of jargon, and acronyms.
  • Avoiding culturally specific references that may not be understood.
  • Avoiding accusatory phrases such as “You did this” or “You should not have.”
  • Trying to put complex or controversial responses into context for the student.
  • Paying attention to tone as it may convey unintended sarcasm or criticism.
  • Using neutral phrases and recapping important points in the conversation to confirm understanding and agreement.
  • Being mindful of non-verbal language and making sure you’re not sending mixed messages.
  • Being aware of the spatial relationship between you and the student. Communicating at the same physical level is always more respectful.

When working with international students slow down your rate of speaking and don’t try to dominate a conversation or win a discussion. International students need extra time to process language, syntax, context, and content relative to a particular subject domain.

Offer help to the student as some international students may not tell the instructor they do not understand something because they may perceive this as being equivalent to telling the U.S. instructor that she is doing a poor job of teaching.

Academic Integrity

Guide and inform students of the appropriate rules for acknowledging sources used in their papers and presentations. This guidance needs to be clearly stated in the syllabus and emphasized in class on a regular basis.

At the heart of working with and teaching international students is respect

Respect

At the heart of working with and teaching international students is respect. Treat international students in a manner that shows them their words are important and of value to you. Listen to them carefully and consider providing context that explains the “why” as well as the “what” in order to increase understanding and acceptance.

Be mindful not to stereotype or generalize about race, nationality, religion, sex or ethnic group. Don’t single out a student to be representative of an entire nationality or as the arbiter of their nation’s policies and political practices.

Additional Resources

The content on this page was adapted from David Gowdey, DU’s Director of International Student & Scholar Services.

Notable and significant national events occur all the time while we teach about our specific topics of study. Sometimes these events coincide directly with our curriculum and we can bring them into class to provide immediacy and relevance to our material. Other times, the events seem removed or unrelated to what is occurring in our classroom. The national conversation stemming from events in Ferguson, Missouri is a timely example.

There are many different viewpoints on current issues of social justice. Although there are no easy solutions, certainly what is needed at this time is a greater capacity to try and understand each other. Quite simply, we need to do a better job of seeing and hearing each other if we want situations to improve.

The events in Ferguson may not have an obvious or direct relationship to many of our classes, yet the ability to empathize and see things from another person’s point of view is a core component of our often-touted goal of teaching critical thinking. Nearly every college course includes goals related to critical thinking, and one essential element of intellectual and analytical inquiry is perspective taking. Perspective taking is the ability to consider multiple perspectives and their implications. It is the capacity to step outside one’s own worldview and imagine what others may be thinking or feeling.

Perspective taking not only allows us to create a more sophisticated understanding of complex issues or problems, but also to develop more creative options and solutions. Simply preparing to discuss an issue in a diverse settings can provoke more thought, and exploring an issue from a different worldview can lead to new knowledge and discoveries. Scholars who study critical thinking often conclude that in our quest to develop critical thinking in college students, we rarely emphasize perspective taking. When we miss this important aspect, we run the risk of encouraging sophisticated, yet egocentric, thinking.

How do we teach perspective taking?

Unfortunately, perspective taking does not frequently occur on its own. Rather, it requires explicit encouragement and development. When we actively and purposefully engage students in considering different perspectives through our teaching practices, they develop an ability to enter empathetically into opposing arguments and viewpoints, thereby deepening their own thinking and confronting their own biases and misconceptions.

Some ideas for teaching perspective taking:

  • Intersperse conflicting ideas into lectures and readings and ask students to compare and contrast.
  • Illustrate how a researcher used a unique perspective to make an extraordinary finding or discovery.
  • Use writing prompts and question stems which ask students to take on a perspective different from their own.
  • Assign students to interview someone with a different worldview. Require students to seek out similarities, not just differences.
  • Purposefully arrange students in small groups to maximize a diversity of opinions.
  • Ask students to identify the long-term implications of behaviors that result from a limited worldview.
  • Ask students to prepare an assignment specifically for a particular audience, not just for the instructor.
  • Designate students to play specific devil’s advocate roles to bring up differing viewpoints in a class discussion.
  • Use role play, debates, and case studies. Consider asking students to take one position first, than another, or to identify major arguments against their position.

There are many other methods, if you have an idea or example please share it in the comment section below.

In light of the recent events in Ferguson, one practical step we can all take is to encourage students to explore ideas from multiple viewpoints. No matter what we teach, if we expect our students to graduate from DU as intellectually engaged students dedicated to the public good, we should strive to help them develop increased capacity for perspective taking.

Concepts to consider

Teaching perspective taking

Teaching dialogical thinking

How the language we use reinforces power and difference in the classroom

Guidelines for teaching about controversial issues

Teaching in times of collective tragedy

Resources specific to teaching about Ferguson

Twitter.com/hashtag/teachingferguson

A collection of resources related to teaching about Ferguson

Univ of Arizona library guide for teaching about Ferguson

Resources about creating an inclusive classroom

Increasing inclusivity in the classroom

Creating an inclusive classroom

 

Don Bacon, Professor in the Department of Marketing, shares some of his ideas and thoughts about teaching Chinese students.

Get to know the country. I have mounted a large (3 x 4′) map of China on the wall in my office. Whenever a Chinese students visit me in my office, I ask them where they are from in China, and if I need help with the location, I ask them to point it out on the map. I then ask them a little about their hometown. I feel this helps me to connect better with the students and shows a genuine interest in them as individuals.

Cold call discussion questions but make preparation clear. My masters students are often assigned academic readings that we later discuss in class. I give students a list of discussion questions in advance for each article. Then, in class, I randomly call on students and ask them to address specific discussion questions. Having the questions in advance allows non-native speakers of English to prepare answers and get into the conversation somewhat. The discussion questions also help me to focus on what I believe are key learnings in the articles.

Use student information cards. I ask all students to fill out a 3 x 5 card containing contact information and a little background on themselves. I then tape on their pictures which I download from Web Central. This deck is handy to shuffle through to get to know student names. I also use this deck, shuffled, to randomly draw on names of students to call on in class.

Use a seating chart to learn names. For each of my classes, I use PowerPoint to make a drawing of the layout of the room, including chairs and tables. I then bring a printed copy of this graphic to each class, and ask students to sign their names over the chair that they are sitting in. The sign-in is a handy device for recording participation scores and it helps immensely to learn student names. (It is common for me to have classes with 30 or more students and half of them may be Chinese.)

Individually hand back assignments to learn names. When returning assignments, I sort the assignments by the order students typically sit in as shown on my seating charts. Then, I can quickly hand back the assignments to each student. In this process, I get one more repetition of learning the students’ names.

Mix activity groups. When conducting group activities in class, I have had some success with requiring that each group contain at least one Chinese student and one American student. Without this requirement, students may not mix as much as I would like them too. This diversity requirement may seem a little awkward, but everyone seems to understand the benefits of mixing with other and the (otherwise) social awkwardness of approaching strangers.

Add diversity to exercise materials. In any exercises and written examples that I may use in class, I try to mix in examples with Chinese names and Chinese settings. For example, instead of “Suppose Jane started a business with a bank loan of $20,000…”, I start with “Suppose Yun started a business with money she borrowed from her father…”

Past Workshops and Resources

Visit our Canvas page for information related to Canvas workshops

The OTL also offers customized workshops for departments and units throughout the year.

Spring 2015 Workshops

Teaching and Learning Week 2015
Click here to view nearly 20 workshops and associated resources from Teaching and Learning Week 2015

Roundtable Discussion: Alternative Methods for Rewarding Teaching at DU
Facilitators: Paul Olk, Daniels College of Business, and Bridget Arend

Faculty panel: Using group work to enhance intercultural perspectives in DU classes
Presented at DU’s Internationalization Summit
Facilitators: Bridget Arend, OTL; Dan Baack, Daniels College of Business; Christopher Edwards, University College; and Margie Thompson, Dept of Media, Film & Journalism
Handout

Dealing with the Unique Challenges of Assessing Graduate Programs
Facilitator: Rob Flaherty

Authentic, Transformative, Integrative: Understanding the Value of Culminating Experiences
Facilitators: Rob Flaherty and Virginia Pitts

The Practice of Enoughness: Finding Work/Life Balance
Facilitator: Jason A. Weisberger

Winter 2015 Workshops

When Voices get Hot: Preparing Yourself for Constructive Dialogue in the Classroom
Presented at the DU Diversity Summit
Facilitators: Bridget Arend and Nicole Joseph, Morgridge College of Education
Workshop Handout

Departmental Excellence in Teaching Panel Discussion
Presenters: Sharon Lassar, School of Accountancy, Dean Saitta, Department of Anthropology, Nick Galatos, Department of Mathematics, Tiffani Lennon, Colorado Women’s College
Departmental Excellence in Teaching Initiative

Are they really learning? Methods for gathering formative feedback to improve teaching
Facilitators: Bridget Arend and Rob Flaherty
Samples of Classroom Assessment Techniques

Why don’t my students come to class prepared?
Facilitator: Bridget Arend
Motivating students to come to class prepared

Fall 2014 Workshops

Developing Rubrics for Assessment and Grading
Facilitators: Rob Flaherty and Bridget Arend
Developing Rubrics

Engaging Faculty in Inclusive Excellence
Facilitator: Chayla Haynes, Assistant Professor, University of Northern Colorado

Methods for Encouraging Self-directed Learning: Assignment Wrappers
Facilitator: Bridget Arend
Assignment and Exam Wrappers

How Research on Learning Can Inform Our Teaching
Facilitator: Virginia Pitts

Using Canvas for Assessment
Facilitators: Rob Flaherty & Ryan Shiba
Resources (you must be logged into Portfolio to see additional materials)

Assessment as Scholarship
Facilitator: Rob Flaherty
Resources (you must be logged into Portfolio to see additional materials)

Instructional Video Workshop
Facilitator: Alex Martinez

 

2013- 2014 Workshops

Voice for the Professor
Facilitators: Anne Penner and Greg Ungar, Assistant Professors in the Department of Theatre

Identifying and Designing Student Assignments for Program Assessment
Facilitator: Rob Flaherty  

Beyond Student Evals: Alternatives for Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness
Facilitator: Bridget Arend
Evaluating Teaching Excellence Toolkit

Advancing Your Assessment Program Workshop
Facilitator: Rob Flaherty
Resources (you must be logged into Portfolio to see additional materials)    

Using Video for Student Feedback
Facilitator: Alex Martinez

Using Top Hat in a Biology Course
Blog Post: Faculty Showcase: Using Top Hat in a Biology Course
Top Hat Webinar

Facilitating Student Groups
Facilitators: Roberto Corrada, Cindi Fukami, Nancy Sasaki
Blog Post: Advice about Facilitating Student Groups
Basic Cooperative Learning Structures
Overview of Cooperative Learning

Is there an app for that? iPads for Teaching & Research
Facilitators: Kathy Keairns, Carrie Forbes, Rafael Fajardo, David Thomson, Chris Brown
Blog Post: Is there an app for that? iPads for Teaching & Research
Google Spreadsheet

Strategies for Working with Challenging Students
NSM difficult students 2013
Difficult Students Syllabi Examples

 

Prior Workshops

Managing Difficult Students
Facilitators: Alan Kent, Executive Director of Health & Counseling Center, Jacaranda Palmateer, Director of Counseling Services
Blog Post: Managing Difficult Students/Situations
Managing Difficult Students

Teaching Chinese Students: Implications for the Classroom
Facilitators: International Student and Scholar Services and the Office of Teaching and Learning
Blog Post: Teaching Chinese Students-Webinar Reflections
NAFSA Webinar Handouts
NAFSA Webinar Slides

Teaching International Students
Blog Post: Teaching International Students
NAFSA Webinar Slides
International Student Statistics
Teaching Chinese Students Small Group Discussions

Secrets of Effective Presentations
Facilitators: Bridget Arend, OTL and Carol Zak-Dance, Colorado Women’s College
Blog Post: Presentations/Lectures
Evaluation Checklist
A Presentation about Presentations

How Learning Works: Part II
Facilitators: Bridget Arend, OTL and Ginger Maloney, Morgridge College of Education
How Learning Works Part II Handout
How Learning Works Part II

How Learning Works: Part I
Facilitator: Bridget Arend, OTL
How Learning Works Part I Handout
How Learning Works Part I

Fostering Critical Thinking in Online Discussions
Facilitators: Bridget Arend, OTL and Kim Hosler, University of Northern Colorado
A Guide for Identifying and Eliciting Cognitive Presence

Managing Laptops and Mobile Devices in the Classroom
Managing Laptops and Mobile Devices in the Classroom

Effective Grading: Saving your sanity & that of your students with rubrics & expectations
Grading Tests & Assignments

 

International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) is offering a training for academic advisors and faculty advisors who advise international students (students studying on an F-1 or J-1 visa).  This training will cover immigration-related topics an academic advisor may encounter when advising an international student on his academic program.  Examples include requests for less than full-time enrollment, program extensions, off-campus employment authorization for internships, and more.   This training will be:

Date:  Thursday, October 10th

Time:  2:00 – 3:30 p.m.

Building:  International House (2200 South Josephine St).

Room:  Dining Room

This training should help demystify some of the additional rules and forms academic and faculty advisors see when working with international students.  To attend, please registeronline.  For questions, please e-mail Marlene Arnold, marlene.arnold@du.edu.

Last week nearly 20 faculty and staff gathered at the International House to watch a live webinar, Today’s Chinese Students: Understanding the U.S. Classroom. The webinar presenters gave an overview of some of the issues related to integrating Chinese students in American universities and the DU group stayed after to discuss these issues and share teaching strategies.

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The webinar presenters explained that Westerners tend to define learning cognitively (using words such as thinking, question, understand) whereas Asians tend to describe learning morally (using words such as diligence, persevere, respect). Both education cultures produce outstanding scholars, but they represent different beliefs about the rules of education.

Although not all Chinese students are alike and we want to caution against generalizing, the webinar focused on five cultural differences often found between Chinese and American students:

  • Valuing individualism vs. collectivism
  • Faith in rule of law vs. personal relationships
  • A focus on memorization vs. creativity and challenging ideas
  • Formal vs. informal social relationships
  • Seeing silence as a sign of respect vs. a sign of discomfort

These differences may result in actions by Chinese students that go against American educational norms: limited class participation, unease and unfamiliarity with problem-based learning, inhibitions to challenge instructors or ideas, and sometimes circumventing rules to achieve goals.

DU has purposefully tried to attract international student to enrich the educational experience for everyone, and it’s common to be frustrated with the challenges that emerge with the resulting culture clash. It’s tempting to focus our efforts on getting these new students accustomed to our American way of education. Yet as the facilitators reminded us, once we expect international students to act exactly like American students, we lose some of the benefits of having the cultural diversity.

Instead we hope to focus efforts on trying to understand the root causes behind culture clashes, and using strategies that support all types of students in their learning. Typically, strategies that are good for Chinese students end up being good for all students.

Visit our webpage for a list of ideas and strategies for Teaching International Students and share your own strategies with us!

 

The following guidelines and resources for creating an inclusive classroom were developed for DU faculty by the Center for Multicultural Excellence.

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One of the current salient topics in higher education is the increasing diversification of our institutions of higher learning and the conceptualization, understanding, and management of campus diversity.  Enrollment data continue to suggest that the student demographics of colleges and universities continue to change. Today, it is not uncommon to find a variety of groups on college campuses including women, men, Asians, African Americans, Latinos, American Indians, gay men, lesbians, bisexual individuals, international students, re-entry students, Jews, Catholics, Muslims, individuals from varied socioeconomic backgrounds and many other categories of students.  The University of Denver is no different than other institutions of higher learning.  In addition to having approximately 16% students of color, the multiplicity of important and valued groups mentioned above also form part of the University’s diverse student body.

The Diverse College Classroom

When considering campus diversity, it is clear that a diverse campus presents both challenges and opportunities.  Nowhere is this more apparent than in the college classroom.

When considering the challenges that diversity presents in the college classroom, there are many documented cases of faculty and students continuing to experience conflict and tension related to the different views and backgrounds represented in the classroom. Examples of these types of conflict include a heterosexual student exclaiming in class that gays and lesbians do not have a right to exist and refers to the bible to support her argument. Or a faculty member asking the only Chicano in the classroom to educate the rest of the class on the topic of Mexican immigration patterns, a topic with which the student is not very familiar.  Similarly, three male students continuously disrupting the class by directing sexist comments at a teaching assistant and a White student threatening an African American female over her views on affirmative action are also examples of the challenges that diversity poses in the college classroom. Add to these incidents of cultural and personal misunderstandings, institutional discrimination, inadequate or no training for faculty on issues of diversity in the classroom, and lack of preparation of students for engaging in productive classroom discussions and what emerges is a picture of tense college campuses and classrooms waiting to be disrupted as a result of these and other incidents.

Create a Welcoming Environment

On the positive side, there are instances where faculty have used and are using diversity in the classroom as an opportunity or asset to enhance teaching and learning.  Examples of this include an instructor who organizes a fishbowl discussion of male students to discuss their attitudes toward women after a student makes a controversial remark in class. Or a faculty member teaching students about the difference between a debate and a dialogue in order to have productive expressions of free speech and thereby enhancing the learning process. And finally, students receiving and learning about ground rules for classroom discussions related to respect, free speech, and personalizing the issues are also examples of using diversity as a tool for achieving educational outcomes.  In sum, the prospects of diversity involve using the multiple perspectives, cultures, languages, and other characteristics that different social identities bring to the class as an asset or a tool to create greater understanding and knowledge about these issues. We acknowledge that this task is not easy and requires special skills and techniques.

A safe and welcoming classroom is defined as an environment in which all students feel comfortable in expressing themselves and participating fully in the educational process

One of the critical components of a successful classroom that maximizes the educational benefits to all students is safe space and a welcoming environment. A hostile and tense classroom can be very unproductive for the educational growth and development of all students.

Both students and faculty have a role and responsibility in creating a safe and welcoming classroom environment. The following are suggested guidelines specifically for faculty and teaching assistants who wish to 1) insure that the broadest range of opinions and ideas on topics are expressed in the classroom in a manner that generates constructive dialogue (rather than destructive discussions) and 2) maintain and protect the dignity of all students and the groups to which they belong.   Instructors are not required to adopt the suggested rules.  However, those wishing to do so can make them explicit by placing them in the course syllabus and/or reviewing them during the first day of class.

Establish Ground Rules

Establishing strong expectations with students at the beginning (i.e., the first day of class) about the type of conduct and climate that the faculty member expects is crucial for creating a welcoming classroom environment.  As part of the process of creating norms, ground rules for conduct and dialogue can be helpful in honoring both free speech and the dignity, respect, and worth of everyone in the classroom.

Establishing ground rules for conduct and dialogue in the classroom can be extremely helpful in both. This can be accomplished by establishing strong expectations from the very beginning about how class discussions will proceed, particularly those involving controversial and difficult topics.  Explicitly stating the norms for dialogue will establish a climate of understanding about how to engage in difficult discussions. These guidelines are suggestions only and by no means required or comprehensive.

The point is that strong expectations about how dialogue in the classroom will take place should be established by an instructor prior to involving the students in difficult or controversial discussions.

  • In order to create a climate for open and honest dialogue and to encourage the broadest range of viewpoints, it is important for class participants to treat each other with respect.  Name calling, accusations, verbal attacks, sarcasm, and other negative exchanges are counter productive to successful teaching and learning about topics.
  • The purpose of class discussions is to generate greater understanding about different topics. The expression of the broadest range of ideas, including dissenting views, accomplishes this goal. However, in expressing viewpoints, students should try to raise questions and comments in way that will promote learning, rather than defensiveness and conflict in other students. Thus, questions and comments should be asked or stated in such a way that will promote greater insight into and awareness of topics as opposed to anger and conflict.

Example of a question that may put students on the defensive: Why do you insist on calling yourself Hispanic? That’s wrong. It seems to me that Latino is the correct term? Can you explain to me why you insist on using the term Hispanic?

Example of a non-defensive question: I don’t understand. What is the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino?

  • Learning is both about sharing different views and actively listening to those with different views.  Students in this class are expected to do both.  Learning is maximized when many different viewpoints are expressed in the classroom.
  • Keep the discussion and comments on the topic, not on the individual.  Don’t personalize the dialogue. Rather than personalizing the dialogue, please direct challenging comments or questions to the instructor or the entire class.
  • Remember that it is OK to disagree with each other.  Let’s agree to disagree. The purpose of dialogue and discussion is not to reach a consensus, nor to convince each other of different viewpoints. Rather, the purpose of dialogue in the classroom is to reach higher levels of learning by examining different viewpoints and opinions.
  • Everyone is expected to share.  Keep in mind that the role of the instructor is to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard in class.

Recommended Language for your Syllabus

Instructors are not required to adopt this suggested language.  However, those wishing to do so can make ground rules explicit by placing them in the course syllabus and/or reviewing them during the first day of class.

Suggested Ground rules for Dialogue

  1. Respect Each Other. In order to create a climate for open and honest dialogue and to encourage the broadest range of viewpoints, it is important for class participants to treat each other with respect.  Name calling, accusations, verbal attacks, sarcasm, and other negative exchanges are counter productive to successful teaching and learning about topics.
  2. Discuss with the Purpose of Generating Greater Understanding. The purpose of class discussions is to generate greater understanding about different topics. The expression of the broadest range of ideas, including dissenting views, accomplishes this goal. However, in expressing viewpoints, students should try to raise questions and comments in way that will promote learning, rather than defensiveness and conflict in other students. Thus, questions and comments should be asked or stated in such a way that will promote greater insight into and awareness of topics as opposed to anger and conflict.
  3. Don’t Personalize the Dialogue. Keep the discussion and comments on the topic, not on the individual.  Don’t personalize the dialogue. Rather than personalizing the dialogue, please direct challenging comments or questions to the instructor or the entire class.
  4. Agree to Disagree. Remember that it is OK to disagree with each other.  Let’s agree to disagree. The purpose of dialogue and discussion is not to reach a consensus, nor to convince each other of different viewpoints. Rather, the purpose of dialogue in the classroom is to reach higher levels of learning by examining different viewpoints and opinions.
  5. Participate and Share. Everyone is expected to share.  Keep in mind that the role of the instructor is to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard in class.

Tips for Creating an Inclusive Classroom

  • Create opportunities to get to know your students.
  • Engage with your students in respectful and collaborative ways.
  • Be accessible and encourage students to meet with you during office hours.
  • Ask students to indicate their preferred name and ask them privately for help with pronounciation.
  • Ask students to notify you of any accommodation needs by the end of the first week of class (and keep accommodation needs private).
  • Be aware of, and briefly explain, cultural references you use in class.
  • Identify the purpose of assignments beforehand and allow time for reflection and closure afterwards.
  • Mix up groups so that multiple perspectives are heard and students are not left out.
  • Speak clearly and use a reasonable rate of speed.
  • Develop classroom materials that explore multiple perspectives on the topic.
  • Incorporate multicultural examples, materials, and visual aids when possible.
  • When making up examples use diverse names and cultural references.
  • Encourage students to make personal connections with the content and share those when appropriate.
  • Be explicit about assumed norms such as plagiarism, citation style, and exactly what kind of help students are permitted to use in their assignments.
  • Require drafts of assignments and provide feedback along the way.
  • Consider alternative ways for students to fulfill participation requirements when appropriate.
  • Be aware of your own identity and how you portray yourself in class.
  • Be aware of your own assumptions about students based on surnames or skin tone.
  • Keep expectations high – hold students accountable while allowing them to be successful!

Additional Resources

About 11% of the DU student population consists of international students. International students are by no means a homogenous group, and nearly 90 different nations are represented at DU. Each student is unique, however there are some strategies that can help international students be more successful in their time here at DU.

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Chinese Students

More than half of the international students at DU are Chinese. Chinese students are more diverse today than a decade ago, but still tend to bring with them a worldview that includes respect for authority and avoidance of conflict. This worldview often clashes with U.S. classrooms that expect participation in discussions and active learning activities. In addition, although DU has recently taken steps to alleviate this issue, some Chinese students have lower English language skills than preferred.

International Student Experience in the Classroom

Strategies for Teaching International Students

There are some steps that instructors can take to better engage and support international students (as well as domestic students):

Classroom content/understanding

  • American college students have a vocabulary of approximately 20,000 words that took them 18 years to acquire. It can be very challenging for international students to bridge this gap. Trying to understand content while taking notes can be very difficult.
  • Talk slowly and clearly, give additional explanations for foundational concepts, clarify meanings of slang and cultural references (some students might not speak up, ask them to  write down their questions and talk with them after class).
  • Use consistent patterns for presenting information (explain learning outcomes, what do you know about it, how does it fit with rest of material).
  • Allow time for brainstorming (some cultures stress reflection before speaking). Give them time to provide a considered opinion.
  • Be careful and aware if your content relies on precision, one mistaken definition may disrupt learning an entire concept.
  • Consider sending class notes/outlines ahead of time and/or allowing international students to record lectures.
  • Hold individual conferences/meetings with students, send follow-up emails to provide information in writing, or encourage them to use office hours.

Group projects/participating in discussions

  • Promote smaller conversations among students in the classroom, for example, talk to your neighbor for a few minutes, or use writing prompts to give all students time to compose their thoughts.
  • Assign diverse groups rather than letting student select groups (but also be careful of isolating international students too much). Keep the groups stable over the quarter to allow relationships to develop.
  • Encourage domestic students to help create a space for sharing of multiple voices and to support international students. Appeal to their future careers – they will benefit by having experience working with people from all over the world. Explicitly ask domestic students to list the benefits of having international students and brainstorm what they could do to support and welcome them.
  • Provide examples from international student contributions and remind everyone the value of these contributions.
  • Create group projects with a fair division of labor. Group projects with a written deliverable often results in unequal division of labor, especially when there are very different language skills. Focus group projects on the concepts and discussion/process, with the deliverable/outcome being something everyone can share (choose a position to defend, recommend a course of action, choose option A/B/C as a group, etc.)
  • Provide groups with some basic information about communication and decision making differences. Create guidelines and ground rules for group projects.
  • Look into the many resources about effective group practices (for example: best practice in effective group work).

Language/grammar/writing

  • Don’t lower standards. However, certain English language mechanics are very difficult for non-native speakers. In addition, language skills often get worse when concepts discussed are more difficult.
  • In your grading, distinguish between global writing issues (more important) and common errors (less important or harder to correct).
  • Also, distinguish between assignments where the thinking/process issues are most important (and grammar is less important), and those assignments that need to be polished/summative/final where grammar issues are important.
  • When grading papers, select just one paragraph or page to grade for grammatical issues and ask student to revise rest of paper, don’t edit it all for them.
  • Visit these resources from The Writing Program: Working With International Student Writers and Guidelines for Responding to the Writing of International Students

Expectations for Learning

  • Get to know your international students – how to pronounce their name, what brought them here, what are their interests and strengths.
  • Be explicit about rules and expectations, especially unwritten rules (who to go to for help, guidelines for plagiarism, expectations for active learning/participation) show examples, model and walk through the rules.
  • When using active learning methods, explain why and the expectations for students.
  • Provide ongoing feedback on student progress, on how well they are meeting learning goals.
  • Ask them to reflect on their learning process – which learning and study strategies are working and which are not? What do they struggle with and how could they adjust their strategies to be successful?

Academic integrity

  • Academic integrity norms are different in some cultures. International students don’t necessarily understand how to paraphrase, or the mechanics of how to translate things into their own words.
  • Communicate standards about academic integrity and walk through examples with students.
  • This plagiarism test from Indiana University might be helpful to use with students.
  • View additional resources about promoting academic integrity.

Additional Resources

Strategies for Teaching Intl Students – Handout created by 2016-17 faculty learning community

Teaching International Students: Strategies to Enhance Learning

Teaching International Students: Pedagogical Issues and Strategies

Thursday April 4, 2013 – Thursday April 4, 2013

2200 S. Josephine St.

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

Building upon last quarter’s Teaching International Students workshop, join us to watch a NASFA webinar, the third in a series about Chinese students, which promises to provide “best practices to support faculty in integrating international students in their classrooms.” Join us at the International House to watch the live webinar together from 1:00 – 2:30 pm, followed by an open discussion about teaching international students.
Hosted by International Student and Scholar Services and the Office of Teaching and Learning.

Register


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