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Reducing learning barriers amongst international students: A longitudinal developmental study

Pearson, C.L. and Beasley, C.J. (1996) Reducing learning barriers amongst international students: A longitudinal developmental study. The Australian Educational Researcher, 23 (2). pp. 79-96.

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A substantial conclusion from this study is that an appropriate learning goal orientation program can help university students achieve better grades. The assumption that university students naturally possess competencies that will enable them to be successful in their tertiary studies is cast into doubt by the evidence of this study. The study also reveals that the potential for reducing failure because of cultural barriers, inappropriate study methods or language difficulties can be facilitated with developmental or transitional programs. By exposing students to distinct approaches for studying and learning in an environment where they did not feel humiliated, but were encouraged to take greater self responsibility, and where they were able to develop a range of learning strategies, the participants were able to enhance their personal competencies.

The evidence of this study should encourage Australian universities to focus on the concerns of their international students. Australian universities acquire considerable tangible and intangible benefits from these students. Yet it is widely recognised that these customers experience considerable difficulties with their studies. Although a part of the problem is embedded in cultural assumptions about learning, it is also acknowledged that many international students have ongoing problems at Australian universities because of inadequate or inappropriate oral, reading and writing communication skills. Although there is a great deal of information available to Australian university administrators and academics about these barriers to learning, it appears greater understanding and knowledge is required as in most cases the attempts to reduce the problem have been, at best, ad hoc. The intervention strategy outlined in this paper provides a more consistent approach to a significant growing challenge for all management levels in Australian tertiary institutions.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Commerce
Publisher: Springer Verlag
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