Identification of issues faced by international students in first year project-based engineering classes

Chen, Shaun and Kavanagh, Lydia (2013). Identification of issues faced by international students in first year project-based engineering classes. In: Charles Lemckert, Graham Jenkins and Susan Lang-Lemckert, Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education: AAEE2013 Proceedings. AAEE 2013: 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia, (1-11). 8-11 December, 2013.

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Author Chen, Shaun
Kavanagh, Lydia
Title of paper Identification of issues faced by international students in first year project-based engineering classes
Conference name AAEE 2013: 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education
Conference location Gold Coast, QLD, Australia
Conference dates 8-11 December, 2013
Proceedings title Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education: AAEE2013 Proceedings
Place of Publication Nathan, QLD, Australia
Publisher Griffith School of Engineering, Griffith University
Publication Year 2013
Sub-type Fully published paper
Open Access Status
ISBN 9780992409906
Editor Charles Lemckert
Graham Jenkins
Susan Lang-Lemckert
Start page 1
End page 11
Total pages 11
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
BACKGROUND Project-based courses building on teamwork, communication and collaboration skills are compulsory for all students at The University of Queensland (UQ) where 13% of first-year students identify themselves as international. Many of these students find difficulty in adapting to western culture, in particular the learning culture (Chang & Chin, 1999). Students are often accustomed to the Confucian system which commonly focuses on transmission-based learning (lectures) and assessment through technical competence (exams) and there is little to no team work in this system (Gorry, 2011). Teamwork underpinning two compulsory first-year project-based courses is evaluated through Peer Assessment (PA). PA occurs 4 times in the first-year of study; PA results are returned to student teams via a mentor to aid team development, and are also used to scale assessment marks. However international students generally do not perform well in these courses project-based, attracting low PA and grades due to poor quality of work, lack of contribution and/ or poor engagement. In addition, domestic students have highlighted communication and lack of task understanding as problem areas for international students and domestic students often respond with discontent and resentment.

PURPOSE The research aims to identify the subgroups within international students which struggle in these authentic team-based project courses. Furthermore, possible key factors which play a role in their academic performance will also be investigated.

DESIGN/METHOD PA data was collected from 2010 to 2013. This was categorised using the country, language and age groups of the students; each category was analysed using analysis of variance to identify possible trends. Particular emphasis was placed on identifying cohorts with low PA and cohorts which showed similar distributions to domestic students.

RESULTS Overall the international cohort received lower PA than domestic students. Arabic and Chinese students exhibited the worst performance and were statistically different (p=0.00) from domestic students. Students from the south-east Asian region performed the best out of the international cohort although still lower in PA than the domestic average. In particular Malaysian students showed significant improvement in PA scores over the period of semester 1. English as a second language was found to be the most significant factor as students from English as a first language background showed statistical similarities to domestic students (p=0.45). Maturity measured by age was not shown to be statistically significant in determining PA.

CONCLUSIONS Whilst international students do show signs of struggle in achieving higher PA, not all students in the international cohort are academically disadvantaged to the same degree. Particular subgroups of students based on origin showed significantly lower PA whilst others achieved better. Further research is needed into how the factors of country and language affect students falling into these subgroups of interest.
Keyword Peer assessment
International students
First-year
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

 
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Created: Wed, 19 Mar 2014, 16:28:41 EST by Lydia J Kavanagh on behalf of Faculty Of Engineering, Architecture & Info Tech