September Provisions Session: Teaching and Learning with International Students

**To access the podcast from this session, click here**

Our first Provisions session of the year explored the theme of Teaching and Learning with International Students. Presenters shared previous experience with teaching international students, and effective strategies for improving learning for international students. An audience of approximately 60 faculty and staff members attended to hear presentations from Colleen Flynn Thapalia, Director of International Recruitment & Admissions, Dr. John F. Dion and Dr. Angela Gordon, Professors of Business, and Ian MacDonald, Professor of Computer Science.

Colleen Thapalia started off the session by providing information about St.Rose’s current internationalization efforts (click here for her presentation). The main purpose of internationalization efforts is to create a sense of “global connectedness” by providing support for international students, and supporting study abroad programs. On campus support includes orientation services, writing centers for ESL (English as a Second Language) and ELL (English Language Learner) students, and other services, such as help obtaining a driver’s license or teaching students how to understand the tax system. Colleen provided a few links for faculty to use as a resource for grading. These websites help faculty to understand the differences in grading systems, varied by country. Understanding how the American grading system is different than in other countries allows teachers to know what international students may be expecting.  Colleen shared a story about an experience where her professor (from another country) thought that a grade of “67” was equivalent to a “B”. This helps depict her message that grading systems and expectations vary by country. Colleen supplies another source for faculty to explore, UNESCO Profiles, which provides teaching standards and qualifications for different countries’ educational systems.

Next to present were Dr. John Dion and Dr. Angela Gordon (click here for their presentation). Angela started off by explaining her experience with teaching both French students from the Paris School Of Business, and American students. John then highlights three main goals they had for the students, cross-cultural management skills, internationalization of material, and for the French students, learning the American approach to education. Cross-cultural management skills taught the students about cultural differences in leadership, team dynamic, independence, expectations, and communication. John shares his success of creating and maintaining a comfortable learning atmosphere for the students. He discusses his method of teaching some material in only French, which forced the French students to take the lead, since the American students couldn’t understand French. Overall, John and Angela learned that the French students gained a greater appreciation for the American education system because it focused on critical thinking, rather than rote memorization of material.

Last to present was Ian MacDonald. Ian started off his presentation by discussing the increase in international students in the field of Computer Science. With an increase in the number of international students, several challenges become apparent. One of the challenges he faced dealt with course offerings. The increased number of students created the need for more sections of classes offered, as well as classes offered during different times in the day. He then spoke of delivery methods as another challenged faced by the increased number of students. His example of this was that in Saudi Arabia, you are not allowed to take courses online, which created the need to offer some courses that would typically be online, in person. As for challenges within the classroom, Ian reinforced what Colleen had mentioned during her presentation pertaining to the different grading expectations that international students may have. Ian then wrapped up his presentation by sharing some of his previous advisor experiences and offered several suggestions for teachers and or advisors of international students. Here is a list of some of those suggestions:

  • to always be welcoming
  • to always be sensitive-as these students are often very far from home
  • make yourself easily accessible
  • always be consistent with each student
  • share course offerings in advance so students can plan ahead
  • remind students of the differences in American education
  • offer places for students to go outside of campus or the school area
  • encourage American students to interact with international students

Following the presentations, the floor was opened up for discussion and questions from the audience.

**Our next Provisions session will be held on Tuesday, October 20th. The theme of the October session is Teaching First Generation Students**

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