Academic cultural differences
- The relation between teachers and students: Cultural differences can affect the communication between students and teaching staff. Misunderstandings can emerge from contrasting ways of showing respect, expectations about the role of the teacher and the professional relation between teacher and student. Example: Asian and European students tend to have different expectations about teacher guidance in small group teaching sessions. Where Asian students view the teacher as authority or expert who should provide them with clear instructions and the right answers, the Dutch student expects the teacher to be a facilitator of their learning process, providing them with constructive feedback on an optional base.
- Methods of teaching: The delivery of content differs across educational systems, as well as the expectations about student participation. Some students are experienced in engaging in discussions and giving their own opinion where others may find this challenging. Example: Many international students participated in educational systems where lecturing is the main teaching method. It will be challenging to this group to adjust their working style to teaching methods they experience for the first time in their educational career. Teaching at the University of Groningen intends to activate students so they will engage in discussions and team based learning. It might appear odd or even inappropriate to some students to share a personal opinion and provide feedback on topics they are not entirely familiar with.
- Assessment: Criteria and grading practice vary between educational institutions. Study success may be hindered when students encounter new assessment methods where criteria are not clear to them or are not recognised as such. Example: Grading culture and distribution of marks differ between educational institutions. The traditional dutch grading scale is from 1 to 10 with commonly a pass mark of 6. A mark of 10 is rarely allocated in practice because it intends to reward outstanding excellent achievement. More normative systems, as it is practiced in the United States have different intentions i.e. reward and encourage rather than single out absolute perfection.
- Academic reading: Reading assignments to deepen knowledge and understanding are common practice at the University of Groningen. However, students enter the university at different levels of English language comprehension and at times still need to develop the appropriate critical reading skills to extract relevant information. Example: Some programmes at the UG present an additional reading list besides their compulsory reading materials. Students are expected practice additional reading to deepen their knowledge where necessary. Students, not used to guiding their own learning progress, however, may be overwhelmed by the – in their eyes – extensive reading tasks.
- Carroll, J. (2005). Teaching International Students. Improving Learning for all. Abingdon, England: Routledge.
- Carroll, J. (2015). Tools for Teaching in an Educationally Mobile World. Abingdon, England: Routledge.
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