Tag Archives: international

International student integration: the students’ view (2014)

Krassimira Teneva

International students expect and value the opportunity to make friends with other students, but are rarely satisfied with their integration with UK peers.

Sheffield Hallam University, like many other universities in the UK, has put in considerable investment in developing and promoting extracurricular activities to encourage UK/international student integration. But while we notice steady improvement in the student satisfaction with their experience of integration, we are still lagging behind other institutions.

This prompted us to undertake an impact evaluation of our social integration work, and investigate further international students’ expectations and experiences of meeting and integrating with UK and other international students. The research involved an online survey sent to all international students and two focus groups run by an external moderator.

The findings from this study unsurprisingly showed that international students wanted to meet and make friends with other international and UK students, but had found integrating with UK students more difficult than expected for a number of reasons. The most interesting finding from the research however shows that international students are happy with the level of support they get to integrate socially, but are dissatisfied with the integration at course level – all students who took part in the research expected they would study alongside UK peers on their course. It is the mismatch from this expectation and the reality of studying in predominantly international (sometimes monocultural) courses that leads to their greatest dissatisfaction. Delivering to this expectation will mean we have to provide a multicultural learning experience to all students, not just international.


279 – Comparing ‘Home’ and International Students’ perceptions of Inspirational Teaching – Anna Bunyan, Manuel Madriaga

Strand: Supporting Students

Anticipated outcomes: to inform both the institution and the sector, and will be used to enhance to quality of teaching for the benefit of students.

Session outline (or abstract):

This presentation will share evidence from an analysis of student comments derived from the student-nominated Inspirational Teaching Awards scheme at Sheffield Hallam University; now in its third year. It is based on student nominations and student comments taken from the Student Barometer Survey. The student comments inform the selection of award winners. The ethos behind the introduction of the student-nominated inspirational teaching awards was to celebrate and recognise contribution by staff which may otherwise go unrecognised. This study builds upon research done last year by the QESS on evaluating student perceptions of what makes inspirational and transformative teachers. While there is some literature available on what makes an exceptional teacher in higher education (Carnell 2007, Skelton 2009, Devlin and Samarawickrema 2010) and on rewarding teaching excellence (Elton 1998, Carusetta 2001, Palmer and Collins 2006, Gibbs 2007, Chalmers 2011), this work is exceptional in that the student voice is required in nominating inspirational teachers. The findings agree largely with a similar study in another UK university, where being approachable, passionate and knowledgeable are traits which are valued by students (Su and Wood 2012)

In the Student Barometer Survey students responded to a question (200 words max.) on how their experience has been transformed by inspirational teaching and by exemplary learning support. 2690 comments were analysed, of which 2272 were Home students and 418 were international. All student comments were anonymised, collated and analysed with NVivo to identify common themes. The comments were coded at 18 different themes as follows: 1 Approachable; 2 Beyond the Classroom; 3 Challenges students to succeed; 4 Encouraging; 5 Entertaining; 6 Enthusiastic; 7 Friendly; 8 Good teaching style; 9 Influence on practice; 10 Knowledgable; 11 Motivational; 12 Organised; 13 Passion for subject area; 14 Professional; 15 Reliable; 16 Respect for students; 17 Supportive; 18 Up-to-date in research.

The evidence shows that this work is beneficial for all students, regardless of whether they are ‘international’ or ‘home’ students. The research is being carried out by a student researcher in collaboration with experienced research staff.  It is hoped these finding will inform both the institution and the sector and will be used to enhance the quality of teaching for the benefit of students.


Carnell, E. (20070. Conceptions of effective teaching in higher education: extending the boundaries. Teaching in Higher Education, 12 (1), 25-40.

Carusetta, E. (2001). Evaluating Teaching Through Teaching Awards. New Directions for Learning and Teaching, 88, 31-40.

Chalmers, D. (2011). Progress and challenges to the recognition and reward of the scholarship of teaching in higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 30 (1), 25-38.

Devlin, M. and Samarawickrema, G. (2010). The criteria of effective teaching in a changing higher education context. Higher Education Research and Development, 29 (2), 111-124.

Elton, L. (1998). Dimensions of excellence in university teaching. International Journal for Academic Development, 3 (1), 3-11.

Gibbs, G. (2007). Have we lost the plot with teaching awards? Academy Exchange, 7, 40-2.

Palmer, A. and Collins, R.  (2006). Perceptions of rewarding excellence in teaching: motivation and the scholarship of teaching. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 30 (2), 193-205.

Skelton, A. M. (2009). A ‘teaching excellence’ for the times we live in? Teaching in Higher Education, 14(1), 107-112.

Su, F., and Wood, M. (2012). What makes a good university lecturer? Students’ perceptions of teaching excellence. Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, 4(2), 144-155.


277 – Ethnographic research into interactions between home and international students in the classroom setting – Miyoung Oh

Strand: Short Conference paper

Anticipated outcomes: widening understanding of the subject area


Sheffield Hallam University as many other universities in the UK has been attracting a great number of students from around the world. International students bring with them different cultural heritage and traditions, enriching their own, as well as home students’, experience at the University. Furthermore, they motivate home students, along with themselves, to develop intercultural skills, which are becoming vital in today’s globalised world. In this sense, international students are valuable resources.

This potential, however, has been often underestimated while rather negative perceptions of them, especially non-EU students, popularly prevail, resulting at times in their segregation from home students in classroom, friendship groups and social life in general. International students have plenty to offer to home students, facilitating them to further develop essential skills and attributes. In this manner, international students’ welfare and their experiences at the University are directly relevant to home students’ learning experiences.

The aims of the research are to investigate interactions amongst students with an emphasis on interactions between home and international students in the classroom setting. In particular, it explores the way they approach, and relate to, one another, the way they form groups and friendship, and how they handle dilemmas and conflicts. The main purpose of this research is to improve integration and cooperation between home and international students and develop intercultural skills.

The postgraduate students enrolled in the Master’s on Sport Business Management programme in the Department of Sport at SHU were the participants of the research. Ethnographic research offered guiding principles for the research. The researchers have observed the students in a number of sessions from October 2012 throughout April 2013. In addition, we have also employed informal and formal interviews with the students to gather fuller and ‘thick’ data.

Click to view presentation:  277 LTA conference presentation 2013

261 – Successful TNE: Engagement or Positioning Theory? – Alison Macfarlane and Hazel Horobin

Anticipated outcomes: Participants will have an opportunity to consider what makes for meaningful and authentic learning in an international context

Session outline (or abstract): max 300 words

Much of the literature relating to teaching international students focuses on ‘managerialist’ issues associated with what is done to the learner and the efficiencies generated by activities such overseas teaching (Altbach, 2007).  Conversely, relatively little research exists in relation to the meanings generated for participants by that teaching (Edwards and Usher, 2008).  The current down turn in international student numbers into the Allied Health Department has prompted outreach work in the form of Transnational Education (TNE) in Asia that aims to continue to develop both recruitment and partnership working.  There are divided opinions on the issue of adaptability in transnational programmes.  Some suggest that pedagogic practice should be in line with the cultural context of the students (Kelly and Tak, 1998); others disagree and claim that the impact of cultural differences can be reduced by use of the principles of good teaching regardless of the course location (Biggs, 1997).

The authors have both successfully undertaken TNE this academic year and they discuss their approaches to TNE founded on theoretical constructs that align with opposite ends of the pedagogic discourse around adaptability.  Alison used an engagement approach aiming to generate a collaborative classroom, she and students pursued together worthwhile and meaningful answers to practice problems generated by the students.  The non-academic, ‘authentic’ activity and real skill development enabled the qualified physiotherapist participants to build on their previous knowledge as well as expand existing skills (Kearsley and Shneiderman, 1999).   Hazel used an appreciation of positioning theory to challenge notions of traditional roles (Langenhove and Harré 1999) and shape classroom encounters and generate a positive and welcoming academic environment, consistent with good pedagogic practice  (Ryan and Viete, 2009).  The discussion demonstrates that both approaches have strengths, but also issues that need to be taken into consideration in complex teaching arenas.

Session activities for engagement: Discussion of how practices relate or not to theoretical constructs and explores the meaning of teaching and learning effectiveness in different contexts.


ALTBACH, P.G. (2007) ‘The Internationalization of Higher Education: Motivations and Realities’ Journal of Studies in International Education, 11 (3-4): 290-305

BIGGS, J.B. (1997). Teaching across and within cultures: the issue of international students. In Murray-Harvey, R. & Silins, H.C. (Eds.) Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Advancing International Perspectives, Proceedings of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference (Adelaide), HERDSA, 1-22.

EDWARDS, R. and USHER, R. (1997) ‘27th Annual SCUTREA Conference Proceedings 1997.  Crossing Borders, Breaking Boundaries: Research in the Education of Adults.  Globalisation and a Pedagogy of (Dis)location’ [www] http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/000000225.htm

(Last accessed 20th December 2010)

KEARSLEY, G., & SHNEIDERMAN, B. (1999). Engagement Theory: A framework for technology-based teaching and learning. Retrieved March, 20013, from http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

KELLY, M.E., & TAK, S.H. (1998). Borderless education and teaching and learning cultures: the case of Hong Kong. Australian Universities’ Review, 41(1), 26-33.

RYAN, J and VIETE, R (2009).  Respectful Interactions:  Learning with International Students in the English Speaking Academy. Teaching in Higher Education. 14 (3), 303-314.

van LANGENHOVE, L. and HARRÉ, R. (1999) Introducing Positioning Theory.  In Harré, R. and van Langenhove, L. (Eds). Positioning Theory.  Oxford, Blackwell

Click to view presentation:  261 Successful TNE

255 – Understanding and tackling the barriers to adopting Portfolio-based dissertations at level 7 – Paul Crowther, Peter Lake

The computing department at Sheffield Hallam have been successfully trialling MSc dissertation by portfolio for over a year now (Crowther and Hill, 2011). The trials have been seen by all the participatory students as a success. Nonetheless a number of issues remain, not least of which is the relatively low numbers of students who select portfolio over traditional approaches. Whilst we there are some obvious hurdles which we can do something about, such as supervisors feeling unprepared for the change of approach, some hurdles are harder to recognise or understand.  From the supervisor’s perspective, some of these issues may well be to do with long standing pedagogic beliefs about what a dissertation should be. From the students perspective there may be cultural differences in the acceptance of what a dissertation should be. The courses involved in this proposal recruit >80% of students from overseas. Another reason may be that in attempting to be scrupulously fair to all students the marking scheme used is identical to those traditionally used. There is some concern that this may be helping to confuse both students and potential supervisors in that it does not allow the portfolio to have its own identity as a valid method. We need to identify, understand and then address these hurdles since the evidence so far points to the portfolio approach being a useful addition to the assessment toolkit. The focus for this project will be the identification and understanding of these hurdles.

233 – Sport Department International Student Experience Journey – Chris Cutforth

Strand: Supporting student learning

Anticipated outcomes

Delegate familiarity and learning from the Sport department’s approach to improving the international student experience

  1. Sharing of ideas and solutions on relevant opportunities and challenges associated with the international student experience leading to enhancements in professional practice

Session outline and activities

Over the past 2 years the Sport department has developed a strong commitment to its work with international students, with the aim of providing them with the most positive learning experience whilst living and studying in Sheffield.

The approach has been underpinned by a programme of research and consultation, the results of which have provided a springboard for a series of targeted interventions designed to improve the experiences of international students.

The session will outline the research methodology, the main research findings and how these have influenced the approach. Key successes will be highlighted as well as the opportunities and challenges encountered along the way. The Sport department’s future plans and approaches to its provision for international students will be explained, focusing on both the formal and informal learning environments.

The session will also give consideration to the wider context of international students across the University.

Feedback will be invited from delegates and there will be opportunities to share and discuss approaches adopted with international students in other parts of the University in order to stimulate future improvements in professional practice.

233 LTA conference presentation 2013

274 – The role of Classroom Assistants in supporting the needs of overseas students – Stephen Hughes & Lawand Qadir

Healthcare in Iraq has suffered over the last decade, and there has been a decline in the number of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. In the new Iraq, the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) focus is on developing capacity, capability and infrastructure. Consequently, they have been looking to the UK to help support the education and training of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals and to rebuild the health system so that it mirrors the multi-professional model of many western countries. At the end of 2011, the Iraqi MoH agreed a programme of courses with the Faculty of Health & Wellbeing to begin delivery in 2012 which integrates English language tuition with nursing and radiotherapy.   The Iraq Healthcare Project course delivery teams have collaborated with the English language delivery team to provide content that simultaneously develops language and skills in the healthcare specialty. The Classroom Assistant (CA) role has played a vital role in supporting the successful delivery of these courses.  Since SHU is striving to internationalise its provision, as highlighted by the SHU Internationalising the Learning Context Conference 2012, faculties may start to have large numbers of overseas students. However, there are concerns (1) whether  a Secure English language Test (SELT) such as IELTS can be used as a predictive score to measure a  students’ ability to cope with the academic demands of UKHE (Yen and Kuzma, 2009, Abasi and Akbari, 2008) and (2) with the retention of high academic standards (Hughes, 2010, QAA, 2009, Rust, 2003). This workshop will provide the opportunity to learn more about how this CA role has supported relatively low language proficiency students, and may prompt participants to explore ways of developing similar roles in their own faculty to enhance the learning experience for both students and staff.

274 2013 Conference – FINAL

271 – Transnational Collaboration: Mapping and tracking course experiences of Tutors and Thai teachers of English on a jointly delivered Masters – Alice Oxholm

Last year in my role as programme leader, I was in the privileged position of working with colleagues at SHU and a university in Thailand to map, approve and teach a Masters course to a first cohort of 25 Thai English language teachers working in schools around Bangkok. The process was initially led by the need to understand and apply terms such as “risk assessment”, “credit rating” and “articulation”. This took priority over developing a sense of the individuals who would either be stepping over from a Thai delivered phase to ours or, from a SHU perspective, who would be co-supervising students working and studying in an unfamiliar context.   This session will draw on some selected principles since identified from literature on shared  transnational pedagogy:  care of the participants , communicating expectations, valuing difference of what is already known,  (Dashwood et al 2008).  These will be discussed in relation to the feedback and reflections from the people involved , staff and students, and how this will inform future planning.

Click to view presentation:  271 Working Transnationally with Colleagues final version

2012 Enhancing international students engagement: visual approaches in interpreting business messages

Rui (Kitty) Su, Suzana Pavic and Michael Mathews

Visual approaches can interpret the meaning into imagery that international students may easier understand the business modules. Language problems may challenge international students in academic and oral communication in English. This research is based on one Master level module entitled ”Sector Industry Analysis”, and the pilot study is selecting one seminar group with 16 international students. The data has been collected from the results of seminar activities, students’ feedback, and tutor’s peer review. Four visual approaches, including comments feedback, imitation, drawing competition and video quiz, are used to training international students’ writing, speaking, reading and listening ability. Visual approaches do not only deal with the language problems, but they also can explore business understanding and employability for international students. It tries to enhance international student engagement into teaching and learning process.

Click here to view presentation:  B8 EN25 Enhancing international students’ engagement-Rui(Kitty) Su

B8 – (EN25, FU09) 11.50