June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
New Engineering Educators
13.1309.1 - 13.1309.10
Understanding and Relating to Your International Students
Edward F. Gehringer North Carolina State University firstname.lastname@example.org
In most engineering programs, international students constitute the majority of the graduate population, and a rising percentage of the undergraduate population. It is important for engineering faculty to understand these students’ expectations of their professors, and make it clear what is expected of them so they will not erroneously assume that educational practices are the same as in their home countries. The educational systems they come from are very diverse, although some are adopting elements of the American educational model. In other countries, there is less emphasis on project work and other homework, and more on exams. While it seems to be rare for final grades to be based entirely on the final exam, it is not unusual for them to be based entirely on finals plus midterm exams. Homework counts for less, perhaps because the few teaching assistants that do exist are responsible for lab sections, so there is no support for grading of homework. In many places, a variety of homework is assigned. It may be collected, but it counts for nothing, or almost nothing. Seemingly because of this, cheating on homework is often tolerated. But cheating on exams may be punished severely. Practices seem to vary widely among institutions, but the penalties are generally similar: zeros, failure in course, suspension from school.
International students now constitute a majority in most engineering programs. We as faculty are familiar with them as individuals. Although we discuss research and course material with them, we rarely ask them about their expectations of the educational system, and if we do, it is only after they have been here awhile and we have gotten to know them. Yet coming to America is culture shock for almost all internationals. What they find in our educational system is different from anything they have encountered in their school career. Surprisingly, there is very little literature on the differences between American engineering education and engineering education overseas. To be sure, there are many articles on the experiences of foreign graduate students in the U.S. [2, 3, 5] and comparing the experience of American and international students . There are also studies of how to relate to international students [1, 4]. These are very useful, but it is this author’s belief that we cannot understand their expectations unless we know something about the educational systems from which they come.
The author surveyed his own international students from 2005 to present. These were students in computer science and computer engineering. He also posted on e-mail lists read by international
Proceedings of the 2008 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition 1 Copyright 1 2008, American Society for Engineering Education
Gehringer, E. (2008, June), Understanding And Relating To Your International Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3889
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