About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 3946-3952
Publication year: 2017
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1849

Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain

BLENDED LEARNING CHALLENGES FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN THE US

G. Tusch

Grand Valley State University (UNITED STATES)
Background:
During the last decade international students have become an important asset to many U.S. universities, both through the income they provide and the diversity they bring to student populations. Furthermore, they might play a critical role in sustaining quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs. However, studying in a foreign country can be challenging and may require students to adapt to unfamiliar educational cultures. Additional challenges are raised with the integration of online technologies into higher education.
Our online hybrid courses are based on teaching strategies that require learners to collaborate, communicate, explore, and reflect. Learning is viewed as an active, constructive process through which the learner creates new knowledge based on available resources.
This paper presents research that explored international students' experiences of studying in hybrid online courses, how these students from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds encounter those environments. It examines teaching, learning and cultural aspects of student engagement with the components of hybrid online learning.

Methodology:
We report on a study performed in our university’s two-year Medical and Bioinformatics graduate program. Technology in the computer lab is an essential and integral part of the curriculum.
The assessment of students was done partially through online discussion, by midterm and final exams, a group project resulting in a research paper, a face-face paper presentation, a reflection paper on project management, weekly online discussions and a discussion leadership requirement with graded participation or lab tests. All tests were face-to-face. To measure cultural differences, student had to assess their peers and themselves and how may hours they worked on projects (self reported). In some classes we allowed the students to choose the project partners, in others the instructor determined the team members to enforce cross cultural collaborative learning. We also determined the participation in extracurricular activities.
In the hybrid online classes, we used as an additional evaluation tool the Quality MattersTM Rubric Standards questionnaire. We added six additional questions including major, gender, and if international student.
The goal of our study was to monitor the quality of the course delivery with a focus on cultural differences to see if any particular group (gender, major, first year/second year, domestic/international) responded differently to the offering, so that we could adjust the presentation of the material. A statistical analysis of the respective parameters has been performed.

Results:
From fall 2014 until winter 2016 147 students were enrolled into the study. We use as outcome the performance of the students in the respective assignments and look at differences regarding country of origin, performance level and gender. While the results are mixed, they in general are similar to results of other studies with online students.

Impact:
We are cautious in interpreting the results. It seems that changes we made to the delivery, e.g., the composition of project teams, had some effect, but the difference is not conclusive yet. The findings suggest that the quality of learning for all students might be improved by constructing a culturally inclusive online learning environment. Details will be presented in the talk.
@InProceedings{TUSCH2017BLE,
author = {Tusch, G.},
title = {BLENDED LEARNING CHALLENGES FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN THE US},
series = {9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN17 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-697-3777-4},
issn = {2340-1117},
doi = {10.21125/edulearn.2017.1849},
url = {http://dx.doi.org/10.21125/edulearn.2017.1849},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {3-5 July, 2017},
year = {2017},
pages = {3946-3952}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Tusch
TI - BLENDED LEARNING CHALLENGES FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN THE US
SN - 978-84-697-3777-4/2340-1117
DO - 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1849
PY - 2017
Y1 - 3-5 July, 2017
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN17 Proceedings
SP - 3946
EP - 3952
ER -
G. Tusch (2017) BLENDED LEARNING CHALLENGES FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN THE US, EDULEARN17 Proceedings, pp. 3946-3952.
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