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Informing Pedagogy: Understanding and Acting on International Students' Learning Strategies

About the Project

Although Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC) has been a focus of HE institutions (Leask 2015), according to Heffernan et al. (2019) there is a lack of information about students’ experience of internationalisation and how they feel it benefits them. There is also the inherent risk that power differentials between international students and academics, within HEI, marginalises students’ knowledge, interests, and experience, particularly those from minority cultural backgrounds" (Green, 2019: p. 29).

Five international undergraduate students who have come to study at Warwick in the last four years, from different disciplines and countries and speaking different languages, worked with their international peers to collect information on student experiences which demonstrated:

  • Examples of good pedagogical practice used by learners to deal with the difficulties they face with various aspects of academic study.
  • Examples of good pedagogical practice used by their lecturers to support their engagement in learning.
  • suggestions learners have of pedagogical practices teachers could use to support them in their study.

Project Aims

The project aimed to support teachers by raising-awareness of pedagogies, which our international students told us work for them, thus enabling us to build upon these strategies.

Our research project aligned with Warwick university internationalisation strategy statements. Both the process and product of this project gave students a voice to share their skills with fellow students and staff, and influence teaching and learning strategies. The research project supported the Warwick university inclusion strategy in a very direct way by drawing students’ existing study strategies, which they developed in their home countries. By placing these existing strategies at the heart of reflections on pedagogical strategies, we created new pathways for students to benefit from their lectures, seminars, tutorials and assessments. The strategies will benefit international and home students moving forward.

Project Impact

The student-researchers worked with their international peers to research and collect information in relation to students’ experience of lectures, seminars, tutorials and assessment feedback. The team collaboratively produced a collection of videos outlining challenges, strategies to deal with these challenges, and suggestions for lecturers and fellow students. It is the team's intention that their findings will form the basic of journal publications.

This project celebrated co-creation between international students and staff that encourages students to utilise their native language, history and culture. This co-creation not only advocated 'students as partners' (Bovill,, 2014), but also asked students to bring their cultural backgrounds into the institution. When entering HEI, international students are often expected to leave their 'culture at the door' in order to adopt a Western academic perspective (Jabbar et al, 2020, p.356). Such an expectation separates these students from a lifetime of potentially relevant knowledge and experience, automatically positioning them at a deficit compared with their home-domiciled peers. With this in mind, this project’s legacy is to expand the intercultural outlook of HEIs in the hope that it will take the sector one step closer to supporting international students in their academic study at university and help them to flourish throughout their academic careers.

Project Lead

Anna Tranter

Warwick Foundation Studies

Project Co-Lead

Miriam Schwiening

Applied Linguistics

Project Co-Lead

Amy Stickels

Warwick Foundation Studies

Student Project Co-ordinator

Izaskun Culebras-Porras, Engineering

Student researchers

Veronica Yutong Liu, Education Studies

Fyador Batchkala, Computer Science

Shuyu Liu, Chemistry