Simpson, C. (2017). Language, relationships and skills in mixed-nationality Active Learning classrooms. Studies in Higher Education, 42(4), 611-622. doi:10.1080/03075079.2015.1049141
This qualitative study with 24 Chinese students at a business school in a UK university reminds teachers to be more careful when using the active learning strategies in the classes where there are international students. While most interviewees in the study spoke positively about their active learning experiences, language problem was still a frequently mentioned challenge. Some interviewees found it hard to participate fully in group work activities and felt excluded from significant active learning processes. One of the major findings in this study is that these students’ language difficulty seemed not a simple conversational problem but rather the nexus of language, meta-cognitive skills and the relationships with teachers and local students. The study therefore recommends that teachers need to look at these areas when facilitating active learning among international students. Based on interviewees’ descriptions of their previous learning experiences in China, this study also questions the validity of the reductive Confucian/Socratic dichotomy.
About the photo: Plants on the wall of an ancient house in Macau, filmed in 2012.