IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUPERVISING INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC GRADUATE STUDENTS IN ENGINEERING AND IT?
Queensland University of Technology (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN15 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Conference name: 7th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-8 July, 2015
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This paper reports on the results of a series of workshops relating to ‘best practices in the supervision of international graduate students in Engineering and IT’ given at five different Australian universities. The workshops were an outcome of the original project A model for research supervision of international students in engineering and information technology disciplines (PP10-1771) which focused on identifying factors that influence successful supervision of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and international higher degree research (HDR) students in Engineering and IT disciplines in three Australian universities: QUT, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia (UWA). The larger project involved a total of 229 students and 69 supervisors from the three universities took part in the student and supervisor surveys. Findings challenged a number of myths about international HDR students, including the fact international HDR students may outperform domestic students in terms of completions; language problems were not seen as a major issue by many supervisors; most students were satisfied with their supervision; and most supervisors were satisfied with their students.
However, a number of key areas were identified for further exploration. For example, while 85 percent of students perceived their supervisors to be considerate of their non-English speaking background and/or culture(s), they felt less support was provided for developing their language or communication skills, indicating that increasing supervisor awareness of these kinds of resources could be beneficial. Recommendations included dissemination of these findings, including workshops to further identify key stakeholder concerns. Therefore, five workshops were given at key locations across the country, involving participants from a number of stakeholder groups, including students, supervisors, and support staff. Findings included differences between supervisors and students from some cultural groups in terms of access to support services, as well as identifying key cultural factors influencing the perceptions of both supervisors and students. One issue which arose frequently, however, was whether supervisors considered cultural differences to be significant factors in supervision, or whether key issues in supervision of gradaute students were in fact more 'generic' (e.g., having to do with discipline-specific preparation, thesis topic, etc).
Keywords: Crosscultural supervision, supervision in Engineering and IT, STEM in higher education.