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INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND ORAL PRESENTATIONS.
Academic staff who teach international students can contribute significantly to the students’ individual learning and provide a bridge into Australian academic culture
Oral Presentations Daunting for many students Hold particular challenges for international students, both in terms of language and culture Research - 54 ACU students
Discussion What problems have you observed with your own students?
The challenges identified by students I Confusion with regard to criteria used by academics to assess their work Lack of confidence in putting their own ideas forward Fear of making errors or any grammatical inaccuracies Concerns related to negative judgement by peers Donna Cook 2008
The challenges identified by students II Unwillingness to “show off” or push themselves forward in front of both peers and teachers Fear that their accents will not be readily understood Perceived inability to structure their work appropriately Donna Cook 2008
International students, especially those from Asian backgrounds, come to us with a number of embedded cultural assumptions that influence the way they view and perform in our classes
The cultural assumptions underpinning these obstacles “ The nail that sticks up must be hammered down” Many students found it challenging to stand out in front of their peers, and found that confidence may be confused with “boasting” Conformity and humility are highly valued in Confucian based cultures
The cultural assumptions underpinning these obstacles I “Who am I to change what is already perfect? ” The concept of plagiarism is quite a western concept
The cultural assumptions underpinning these obstacles II “An open book with blank pages” Their role as a student is to be directed by their respected teacher and be shown the way to the truth
The cultural assumptions underpinning these obstacles III “Culture is vulture” Many students form Confucian based cultures believe that it is the student’s role to absorb information and show quiet respect for the teacher – not push forward their own ideas, this would equate to daring to challenge a respected teacher or scholar
The cultural assumptions underpinning these obstacles IV “Get to the point, what point? ” Donna Cook 2009
So a mental check list may look like this: I must not stand out too much and appear proud I must look down to show my respect I must not put forward any of my own ideas as my teacher has already given me the knowledge I need I must give detailed background information so that everyone can understand my points I will use verbatim the words of great scholars
Content and Organisation Is the information cohesive? Is there an introduction, body and conclusion? Does the introduction succeed in highlighting the central points? Does the conclusion adequately summarise the main points?
Presentation Skills Is the pace of delivery suitable for audience? Is the speaker audible and expressive? Does the speaker maintain eye contact and engage with the audience? Does the speaker interact with the slides?
Slide Design & Content Is there an overall design? Are the slides clear? Are the main points presented, without too much detail? Are the images relevant to the topic?
Language and Format How accurate is the sentence structure, grammar and spelling? Is paraphrasing used appropriately? Is the presentation within the time limit? Is referencing correct and appropriate? Are images referenced?
A challenge – but not an impossibility Students from Asian backgrounds are often very eager to learn new cultural norms – and these differences in cultural background do not mean that they lack to ability to adapt and excel in a western academic environment
How can we help? What do you think academics can do to ease the transition for some of these students?
How can we help? As academics we need to make our rules and expectations explicit and clear from the beginning Nothing can be taken for granted as we are not always aware of the students perspective or understanding Model for the students what you consider “best practice”
How can we help? Provide a number of “non threatening” opportunities for oral interaction in class prior to the task “Reframe” the task It may be culturally impossible for a recently arrived international student to ask for help – so we need to empower them to do this or offer help when there is a need is suspected
A mentor or “buddy” can be invaluable. Use video camera on mobile phone to practice and self critique We can be more forgiving when what is expected is not always what is delivered e. g. “cut and pasted” slides – but we need to ensure that it is understood so that it becomes a learning opportunity
How can we help? Provide detailed feedback on tasks – but be careful to acknowledge the positive Do what you can to build the students’ confidence so they come to believe that they can deliver what is expected of them Recognise what they bring to class, affirming their own past experience
How can we help? We can direct students to the range of services the university provides - students may not do this on their own http: //dlibrary. acu. edu. au/research/orals/
References Ballard, B. & Clanchy, J. (1991). Teaching students from overseas. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire. Biggs, J (1997). 'Teaching across and within cultures: the issue of international students'. In Learning and teaching in higher education: advancing international perspectives. Proceedings of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia Conference, 8 -11 July 1997, pages 1 -22. Benn, R. (2000). Exploring Widening Participation in Higher Education: Targeting, Retention and ‘Really Useful Knowledge’, Seminar Presentation, University of Southern Queensland, 15 March.
Chandraratna, D. (1997). What’s in a name? In conversation with international students. Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia. Hasling, J. (1998). The audience, the message, the speaker. New York: Mc. Graw-Hill. Nunan, D (1991). Language teaching methodology. UK: Prentice-Hall.