Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Teaching Strategies for Enhancing Peer Interaction among Diverse Learners

Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Teaching Strategies for Enhancing Peer Interaction among Diverse Learners

Article excerpt

Abstract

Hong Kong's universities have been attracting non-local students to diversify the overall student mix and enhance internationalism in higher education. Mainland Chinese students have become the largest non-local student source in this Western-style higher education sector. The diversity of student body together with the promotion of multicultural experience has created major concerns about provision of high quality learning and teaching. Studies show there have been potential peer interaction obstacles between local and mainland students due to different social, cultural and educational backgrounds. However, research on the role of teachers in facilitating peer interaction is limited. This paper reports an investigation on how teaching strategies used in the English Department had an impact on enhancing peer interactions in the university classroom context. Classroom observation containing textual descriptions and numeric interpretations was used. Solutions were recommended to improve the multicultural learning environment in Hong Kong and other universities with diverse student cohorts.

Keywords: higher education, pedagogy and curriculum, teaching strategies, English studies, cultural diversity, classroom interaction

1. Introduction

The increasing growth of economic globalization has been fastening pace of internationalisation of higher education in Hong Kong that aims to become a regional education hub with the international reputation. In the decade since the handover, Hong Kong's universities have increasingly been attracting non-local students to diversify the overall student mix and enhance internationalism of higher education. As a result of growth of internationalisation and localisation, Mainland Chinese students, attracted by the strengths of the Hong Kong higher education sector such as good worldwide academic rakings, a place where the East meets the West, multicultural and multilingual environment and geographic proximity, have become the majority of non-local component in Hong Kong higher education (University Grants Committee-UGC, 2010). In spite of a rapid social change and close connections to Chinese education system, Hong Kong still more or less maintains a British-style higher education which is reflected by the fact that English is used as the medium of instruction and Western-oriented pedagogy is widely adopted. The diversity of student body together with the promotion of multicultural experience for students for both local and non-local students has created one of the major concerns about provision of high quality teaching and learning in Hong Kong's universities. Therefore these students are of interests to many academics who are facing new challenges of learning and teaching in Hong Kong.

In Western educational settings, Chinese background students' overseas study experiences are examined by many studies (e.g., Hsieh, 2012; Su, 2006; Zhang, 2005). However, seldom do studies identify the differences in learning between Chinese-background students of various nationalities and ethnicities (Smith, 2001; Thao & Li, 2006). For example, Snider (2005) viewed Chinese-backgrounds students from Mainland China, Kong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia as a big homogenous group without considering their different social, cultural and educational backgrounds. Literature supports students' cultural assumptions and prior educational experience can impact their conceptions of learning and expectations of their lectures in the host academic institutional context (Sit & Chen, 2010). It is essential for teachers to understand their learner behaviors, attitudes to learning and interaction pattern so as to facilitate classroom interactions.

In Hong Kong's Western-Style higher education, research of learning and teaching are concerned with either Hong Kong Chinese background students or Mainland Chinese background students, but not a comparison of the two sub-cultural groups. …

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