B. The1, M. Mavrikis2

1UCL Institute of Education (UNITED KINGDOM)
2London Knowledge Lab (UNITED KINGDOM)
Polytechnic education is a type of higher education in Singapore that focuses on technical and industrial-oriented education. It has been observed in the recent student enrolment that there is a significant increase in the number of overseas students enrolling into the polytechnic. A rising concern among educators is the potential differences in their approach to learning. These differences lead to difficulties in student engagement, academic material design and student performance assessment, to name a few.

The difference in schooling and cultural traditions can lead to a difference in the understanding of what learning actually is. This differences lead to students having different strategies and behaviours as they regulate their own learning. For example, in general Asian students with a traditional educational concept with an emphasis of rote memorization as a way of learning, tend to contrast strongly with the acceptance of independence of thought, verbal assertiveness and learning through the development of meaning which are generally promoted as desirable behaviours among European students.

In recent years, the rapid development of information and communication technology (ICT) has played an increasingly important role in education. The adoption of technology in teaching and learning has become the next step towards enhancing learning experience for polytechnic students. The introduction of technology to enhance the learning experience invariably leads to an explosion of new ideas for creative ways of engaging students. In Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Information Technology, the teaching community has already started to introduce online tools for material repository and dissemination, online learning and assessments, and project group collaboration and discussion work. This means that students from the different cultural and educational background will have to adopt this technology-based online learning environment in their polytechnic education.

This research, therefore, aims to study the interaction of international polytechnic students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds, as they solve a range of problems in the form of computer programming tasks, within an online learning environment. It does so by using eye tracking technology. Preliminary findings have led to suggest that students with different educational foundations from different countries have shown significant differences in their learning progress while performing tasks within the online learning environment. These findings thus help educators to promote learning among these diverse group of students, through personalised and differential learning models.