Chinese students' later-year experiences in Canadian universities / by Shimei Zang.
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The mosaic of Canadian university campuses is changing to reflect the presence of more and more minority students, including both Chinese international and immigrant students. This qualitative study explored what Chinese students have experienced in their later-year Canadian university studies and how their Canadian educational experiences have made an impact on them. Four major themes emerged from the analysis of the data: (1) perspectives from a later-year point of view; (2) expectations and outcomes; (3) students' perceived contributions to Canadian higher education and society; and lastly, (4) their suggestions for Canadian professors, future Chinese students, and university staff. One significant finding of the students' accounts was that participants' later-year academic experience was even more stressful than the first year. The reasons included the pedagogical contrast between the Asian and Canadian educators; the demand for higher levels of independent thinking abilities and self-motivation to learn; and other career related worries upon graduation. Another original finding from this study was that the participants attributed their hardships in adjusting to Western university pedagogies to a lack of exposure to, and familiarity with Canadian university teaching and learning pedagogies rather than an inability to adjust their learning. It is worth noting that all twelve participants agreed that they began to know more about Canadian society and Canadians, and became more integrated into Canadian culture from the second year on. The finding from this study demonstrates that through more contact with the host culture in their later-year stage of studies, most participants forge a more integrated relationship with the host culture. Chinese student-participants in this study achieved more than they expected from their Canadian university education. They not only obtained their desired higher education degree, recognized by North American universities, the majority of the student-participants tended to view their Canadian university experience as a precious opportunity to enhance their independent thinking abilities, confidence, and self-awareness, which helped broaden their future outlooks and better guide their future decisions. All the participants stated that their experiences in the Canadian university transformed their life in a significant way. Given the participants’ accounts o f their Canadian university learning experiences, implications for Canadian universities, educators, and administrators are included in the study, in the hope that they will help inform universities’ future decisions about facilitating programs, teaching, and administrative services to provide more effective and competitive Canadian higher education.