Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Chinese Doctoral Students' Perceptions of Their University Instructors in the United States

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Chinese Doctoral Students' Perceptions of Their University Instructors in the United States

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examines Chinese doctoral students' perceptions regarding their U.S. university instructors' academic and interactive behaviors. The author interviewed ten Chinese doctoral students from two universities in the Midwest. Participants discussed their instructors' academic behaviors, including pedagogical knowledge, instruction, and engagement, and their interactive behaviors, including openness, availability, and respect for students. Participants compared instruction and teaching between U.S. universities and universities in China. In general, all ten participants were quite satisfied with instructors in U.S. universities. This study addresses implications for research, Chinese students and their U.S. instructors, and university administrators.

Keywords: Chinese doctoral student; university instructor; academic behavior; interactive behavior

1. Introduction

There has been a significant increase during the past two decades in the number of international students entering the U.S. to pursue higher education. The Institute of International Education, which has conducted an annual statistical survey of international students in the United States since 1949, released its most recent report on November 12, 2012 (Open Doors, 2012). This report suggested that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by six percent to 764,495 during the 2011-12 academic year and that they contributed more than $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy through their tuition and living expenses.

According to Kelly and Moogan (2012), increases in global mobility and the subsequent increase in the diversity of learners with regard to cultural background, language, age, and experience, present challenges to students, educators, and higher education institutions. Ku et al. (2004) state that many professors in the U.S. know little about international students. They do not have in-depth knowledge about the countries from which their students come. Because of cultural and background differences between the U.S. and other foreign countries, and because international students differ with regard to their perceptions and needs, it is increasingly important for U.S. faculty to fully understand the specific needs and demands of these students. The Open Doors report (2012) indicates that the growth of international student enrollments is greatly driven by significant increases in the number of students from China, particularly at the undergraduate level. Chinese student enrollments at U.S. universities have increased by 23 percent in total and by 31 percent at the undergraduate level. Because of the large number of Chinese students who have been admitted to U.S. universities, it is important to study their experiences and their perspectives in more detail. It is only when we have this information, that we can determine how to provide for their needs most effectively.

Chinese students studying at U.S. universities represent a critical part of the international student population in the U.S. Chinese students are from a country that has a different culture, language, and political and educational system than those in the U.S. Trained in Chinese education concepts for almost 20 years, Chinese doctoral students come to graduate schools in the U.S. to acquire knowledge and advanced information. They are exposed to a completely different educational and social environment and have to get accustomed to unfamiliar instructional practices in the U.S. as well as an unfamiliar lifestyle. Instructors in the U.S. will greatly influence Chinese doctoral students who depend on them to facilitate their adjustment to life in the U.S. This study explores mainland Chinese doctoral students' perceptions of their university instructors in the U.S.

2. Purpose

The purpose of this study was to explore mainland Chinese doctoral students' perceptions of their university instructors in the U. …

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