INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE Impacts of Globalization on Quality in Higher Education SEAMEO RETRAC, HCMC, June 20-21/2013 Academic Problems Faced by Vietnamese Tertiary Students in Australia: Insiders' perceptions Dr. Le thi Anh Phuong Nha trang Education College Outline 1. Rationale 2. The study 3. Recommendations Rationale Increasing number of Vietnamese sts. in Western countries. Numerous difficulties (Yan & Berliner, 2009) academic stress (Kamler & Thomson, 2008; Kwan & Tang, 1999;Warwick, 2006) a hinderance to their studies (Kwon, 1999). To explore academic problems of Vietnamese sts and their strategies in coping with these challenges. The study 1 Population 2 Instruments 3 Results 4 Discussion Population + 24 postgraduates: 14 F (58%) & 10 M(42%) + 24 to 48 yrs old (a mean of 33 yrs old) + 3 mths to 5 years (a mean of # 2 yrs) + 19 PhD (79%) & 5 Masters (21%) + natural & social sciences (Computer Science, Chemical engineering, Business Administration, Accounting, Environmental Science, Aquaculture, Agriculture & Environment, Agriculture & Agriculture business // Education, TESOL, Applied Linguistics, and Management) + Seven universities Instruments + A questionnaire (9 questions) + Six Qs. about 5 regular activities lectures/seminars readings essays dissertations working with lecturers. + Seriousness ('extremely', 'very', 'moderately', 'slightly & 'not at all') + Three Qs. about solutions. Data collection + 1st batch: participants at a conference in Australia (2012) + 2nd batch: via emails (2013) Results + 22/24 respondents (92%) experienced challenges. + Most common problems Problems Rates Dissertations 86% Readings 86% Lectures/seminars 82% Working with lecturers 73% Essays 73% Note: obtaining research support (collaboration for experiments) Dissertations (86%) Problems Rates Critical thinking skills 58% Research methods 32% Reading materials 21% Text organization 21% Writing dissertations 11% Research topic >5% Assignment deadlines >5% Organizing & synthesizing information/data >5% Readings (86%) Problems Rates Volume of reading 63% Background knowledge 37% Time 32% Difficulty of readings 21% Finding readings 16% Reading skills 11% Lectures/seminars (82%) Problems Rates Note taking skills 44% Class contributions 44% Negotiation skills 22% Understanding readings 22% Oral presentation s 22% Poor lecturers >5% Australian English, esp. accent >5% Essays (73%) Problems Rates Writing skills 50% Arguments 31% Text organization 25% Synthesis & analysis of readings 19% Lack of adequate readings 6% Working with lecturers (73%) Problems Rates Academic knowledge 44% Effective questions 44% Infrequent communication 44% Lack of face to face meetings 38% English competence 31% Initiatives 31% Unhelpful lecturers 6% Seriousness Problems Lectures/seminars Rank Rates 1 61% 2 53% 3 50% 4 47% 5 44% 22% (very) + 39% (moderately) Readings 21% (very) + 32% (moderately) Working with lecturers 25% (very) + 25% (moderately) Dissertations 21% (very) + 26% (moderately) Essays 6% (very) + 38% (moderately) Chosen solutions Solutions Rates Help from lecturers (in uni: 82%; other uni: 9%) 95% Self reliance 86% Help from friends 59% Help from colleagues 14% Help from study groups & research community 5% Best solution: Self reliance (40%) Reasons -I do more reading as it helps me to understand the problem related to my research topic and to improve relevant knowledge and English. -I spend more time talking and discussing in class and to get more face to face instructions from lecturers. -Asking questions every time I don’t understand is useful. “Better stupid questions than stupid mistakes”. - I adjust my method of learning to get better achievements. Notes: Response rate (15/22, 62%) No response rate (7/22, 32%) Best solution: Asking for help (33%) Reasons + We are friendly enough to share experiences and difficulties. + We have similar experience. + Help from friends/colleagues often comes in time and saves my time and effort. + Help from senior postgraduate students from my country is the best solution. First, they speak my language. econd, they have studied similar or related courses so they understand what to do to overcome problems. + My lecturer understands my problems and he is an expert on the field so he knows what is necessary for me. + My lecturers can tell me what to do and how to do it well. + Active lecturers have helpful responses. + Advice from the supervisors is very useful. Findings Three main types English proficiency Cultural differences in academic settings Research-related skills English proficiency Comments Evidence Well reflected in previous studies (Alazzi & Chiodo, 2006; Araujo, 2011; Halic, Greenberg & Paulus, 2009; Kwan & Tnag, 1999; Kwon, 1999; Mittal & Wieling, 2006; Sherry, Thomas & Chui, 2010; Warwick, 2006;Yan & Berliner, 2009). Manifested in various skills writing, reading, note taking, oral presentation & negotiation Limitations of English exams failure to respond to specific requirements for academic purposes Cultural differences Comments Unfamiliarity with Western interactive classroom communication (Yan & Berliner, 2009) Unfamiliarity with conventions in written academic English (Wang & Li, 2008; Zhou, Frey & Bang, 2011) Evidence lectures/seminars & lecturers lack of questions, initiatives, autonomy (Yan & Berliner, 2009), understanding of expectations (Wang & Li,2008) dissertations & essays Research related skills Comments Evidence Vietnamese culture of accepting ideas from teachers and books. Weak in critical thinking skills This deserves proper attention because they are necessary for research Weakness in critical thinking skills (50%) More theoretical, rather than research based. Weaknesses in research methods & relevant materials Seriousness of problems Data Lectures/seminars Working with supervisors more More frequent Face to face Immediate thinking & response serious Essays or dissertations less Reasons serious Less often Extended period of time More preparation Recommendations 1. Individual preparation for overseas studies 1.1 Strong English competence for studies and research purposes. 1.2 Comprehensive understanding of social and cultural values 1.3 Research skills and passion for one’s own research. 1.4 Establishment of networks for academic and social purposes. 2.Vietnamese educators and authorities’ involvement 2.1 Adequate adjustments in education system for development of high order thinking skills . 2.2. Higher education oriented towards research work. Recommendations 3. Overseas universities’ responsibilites 3.1 Survey of international students’ academic needs (Wang & Li, 2008; Zhou, Frey & Bang, 2011). 3.2 Establishment of learning communities 3.3 Seminars on cultural and academic differences (Yan & Berliner, 2009; Zhou, Frey & Bang, 2011). 3.4 Tutoring services & lecturers’ availability for consultations (Burke & Wyatt-Smith, 1996). Conclusions + Vietnamese postgraduates' academic challenges. + Awareness of possible problems and solutions for studies overseas. + Responsibilities of Western educators & institutions in helping international students in their studies. + Policies and measures for capacity building, especially at higher levels in Vietnam. Further investigations need to explore lecturers' perceptions about their students' academic challenges and what they do to help. References Abdullah, S. S. B. 2011. Help seeking behavior among Malaysian international students in Australia. 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