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Academic Shock Dr Julie Crumbley Associate Dean Undergraduate Portfolio Newcastle Business School Northumbria University Academic Shock Dr Julie Crumbley Associate Dean Undergraduate Portfolio Newcastle Business School Northumbria University

Advertised title! • Understanding the experience of Academic Shock for Chinese educational sojourners and Advertised title! • Understanding the experience of Academic Shock for Chinese educational sojourners and the enablers that support academic transition and adaptation processes • Focus on definition of and the experience of academic shock • Key topics: – – Brief introduction to the research study What is academic shock What are the components of academic shock What are the enablers that support transition and adaptation 2

Brief introduction to the research study • Few studies have investigated the dimensions and Brief introduction to the research study • Few studies have investigated the dimensions and nature of the academic adaptive process • This study investigated the lived experience of academic shock and the transition and adaptive strategies adopted by educational sojourners to shock experienced within the learning environment • 24 qualitative interviews were conducted with Chinese UG students within one HE institution 3

What is academic shock? • Culture shock for educational sojourners is a multi part What is academic shock? • Culture shock for educational sojourners is a multi part concept: culture*, language and academic (Ryan 2005) • Academic shock can occur when different approaches in the practice of teaching and learning become evident to sojourners (Gu, 2009) *Culture shock was defined 50 years ago by Oberg as distress and anxiety experienced as a result of losing familiar signs and symbols of social interaction (Oberg 1960) 4

What is academic shock? • “Nearly everyone has heard of culture shock but few What is academic shock? • “Nearly everyone has heard of culture shock but few talk about the equally difficult ‘academic shock’ students experience when their confidence plummets, they question their precious self-evaluation as competent learners, and they may even lose their knowledge about how to learn and succeed” (Ryan and Carroll, 2005, pp. 6 -7) 5

Components of academic shock Based on Ryan (2005) Based on Gu (2009) Plummeting confidence Components of academic shock Based on Ryan (2005) Based on Gu (2009) Plummeting confidence Unpleasant feelings Questioning academic competency Difficult experiences Losing knowledge about how to learn Psychological and emotional strain Losing knowledge about how to be successful in an academic environment Unfamiliarity with different teaching and learning conditions Part of culture shock, along with language, for educational sojourners Lack of confidence in using English language to communicate in the new learning environment Question: what does it feel like to experience Academic Shock? 6

Components of academic shock Experiencing Academic Shock means: (Crumbley, 2010) Feeling uncertain about academic Components of academic shock Experiencing Academic Shock means: (Crumbley, 2010) Feeling uncertain about academic practice and how to adapt to hidden academic practices Being bound by language, academic practice and culture Losing confidence Coping with unmet expectations i. e. feeling academically disabled: • loss of academic competence • lack of language skills • difficulties in forming interpersonal relationships outside of conationals 7

Feeling uncertain • This is about difference and distance between Chinese and UK education Feeling uncertain • This is about difference and distance between Chinese and UK education practices – Academic practice is different to expectations – The ‘rules’ governing the hidden academic system only become clear when mistakes are made – This is a hard way to learn how to learn – Sojourners feel worried, scared, depressed, confused, afraid, stupid, frustrated, nervous and frightened • This is not a neutral concept or experience 8

Feeling uncertain Examples of experience of feeling uncertain: Delivery Teaching style; seminars; structure of Feeling uncertain Examples of experience of feeling uncertain: Delivery Teaching style; seminars; structure of teaching e. g. student-tutor interaction and need for active participation Using teaching and learning materials Language barriers; academic competency e. g. time it takes to read and understand academic sources Assessment practice Type of assessment; understanding criteria; choices and freedom e. g. understanding what is required, exam machines, not being told what to do Academic writing Use of sources and referencing; constructing and argument; plagiarism e. g. scared of plagiarising but unsure of how to construct arguments Independent learning Time; motivation e. g. prefer to be given ‘fixed knowledge’ rather than have to research it Guidance and feedback Homework and formative assessment e. g. not enough homework/feedback 9

Being bound • The response to encountering unfamiliar academic practice is bound by the Being bound • The response to encountering unfamiliar academic practice is bound by the sojourners’ previous academic experiences and competences – They can be resistant or feel unable to adapt – Resistance can be an act of bravado – For some, they lack the skills or academic competence to change • Recognition that transition needed to make the most of the sojourn 10

Being bound Constituents of being bound Being resistant to change Tutors don’t know how Being bound Constituents of being bound Being resistant to change Tutors don’t know how to teach Chinese students; classes lack structure; not enough support provided for assessment; interactive classes; difficulties connecting with local students e. g. questioning need to change, what we are used to is better; bravado (or regression as Oberg termed it) Being unable to change Communication skills; relationship with tutors; assessment e. g. lacking the required skills to make the transition Recognising the need Becoming independent; to change becoming confident e. g. gaining additional skills and competences 11

Losing confidence • Psychological aspect of academic shock: embarrassment, shame, fear of failure, fear Losing confidence • Psychological aspect of academic shock: embarrassment, shame, fear of failure, fear of being thought stupid or disrespectful to the tutor – Academic shock is experienced as a lack of competency and loss of confidence • Cause of distress and anxiety that impacts on academic performance 12

Losing confidence Constituents of losing confidence i. e. Loss of voice Communication skills; fear Losing confidence Constituents of losing confidence i. e. Loss of voice Communication skills; fear of failure; psychological reaction that leads to loss of confidence i. e. more than poor communication skills, it is the withdrawal from situations where interactions are needed e. g. isolating, a barrier to participation, very emotional language used (nervous, frightened, miserable, scared, ashamed); form of self protection Loss of skills Academic practice; feeling disadvantaged i. e. experiencing crisis or dissonance as poor marks/feedback received Not prepared for T & L, redundant skills, disadvantaged compared to locals Loss of self worth Results from the two above: Appearing stupid; under pressure; wanting to be challenged Don’t deserve to ask for or receive help, feeling invisible, need to find courage to try 13

Coping with unmet expectations • Psycho-social reactions to the experience and core to understanding Coping with unmet expectations • Psycho-social reactions to the experience and core to understanding academic shock • Pre-sojourn academic expectations exist: – Know how to learn and perform well academically – Tutors would be supportive in helping them to learn – They would make friends with local students and improve their English • Expectations largely unmet; feel disappointed by experience 14

Coping with unmet expectations Constituents of unmet expectations Academic practice Assessment; delivery approach; learning Coping with unmet expectations Constituents of unmet expectations Academic practice Assessment; delivery approach; learning processes; academic performance Approaches very different to what they were used to Academic support and guidance Relationship with tutor; access to Expectations of tutor; other guidance; induction support high, but tutors seen as unavailable Friendship and communication Integration Wanted to make friends and speak more English but social connections did not develop outside of conationals 15

Summary of lived experience of academic shock • Unavoidable due to differences in academic Summary of lived experience of academic shock • Unavoidable due to differences in academic practice • Painful to experience • Having to cope with unmet expectations • Feeling let down • Loss of confidence • Withdrawal from host nationals • Communication a barrier 16

Loss of competence and confidence Loss of self worth EXPERIENCE OF ACADEMIC SHOCK Withdrawal Loss of competence and confidence Loss of self worth EXPERIENCE OF ACADEMIC SHOCK Withdrawal and non participation Unmet expectations Exclusion by hosts 17

Enablers supporting academic transition and adaptation • Tutors and local students had relatively minor Enablers supporting academic transition and adaptation • Tutors and local students had relatively minor roles compared to conational students • Conationals were the most important interpersonal network in reducing the impact of academic shock and in enabling academic transition – collectively making sense of new academic practices • Collaborative working needs to be encouraged if academic shock is to be coped with 18

Thank you for listening Any questions? Julie Crumbley julie. crumbley@northumbria. ac. uk Thank you for listening Any questions? Julie Crumbley julie. [email protected] ac. uk

References • Crumbley, J. (2010) Academic shock and the role of interpersonal relationships on References • Crumbley, J. (2010) Academic shock and the role of interpersonal relationships on academic transition and adaptation processes for Chinese educational sojourners. Unpublished DBA thesis. University of Northumbria. • Gu, Q. (2009) ‘Maturity and Interculturality: Chinese students’ experiences in UK higher education’, European Journal of Education, 44 (1), pp. 37 -52. • Oberg, K. (1960) ‘Cultural Shock: Adjustment to New Cultural Environments’, Practical Anthropology, 7, pp. 177 -182. • Ryan, J. (2005) ‘The student experience: challenges and rewards, ’ in Carroll, J. and Ryan, J. (eds) (2005) Teaching International Students. Improving Learning for All. London: Routledge, pp. 147 -151. • Ryan, J. and Carroll, J. (2005) ‘‘Canaries in the coalmine’ International students in Western universities’, in Carroll, J. and Ryan, J. (eds) (2005) Teaching International Students. Improving Learning for All. London: Routledge, pp. 3 -10. 20