Ellis, L and Cummings, EA and Turner, P, Engaging International Students through PBL, Proceedings of the 2nd International Research Symposium on PBL '09, 3-4 December 2009, Melbourne, Victoria EJ (2009) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Australian Universities have become more focussed on increasing their student numbers by marketing to, and recruiting students from, other countries. Many international students arrive in Australian Universities with minimal English language skills. Additionally, their previous educational experiences have embedded culturally based approaches to pedagogy adopted within their home countries. Universities, particularly those with large numbers of international students now face challenges in effectively delivering their programs.
At the University of Tasmania, international students predominately undertake postgraduate coursework programs. Staff delivering these programs continue to report difficulties in engaging these students in workshop or tutorial activities. These difficulties are resulting in less than desirable outcomes for both students and staff.
This paper reports the outcomes of adopting a Problem Based Learning (PBL) approach to a coursework Masters level unit (KXI753) within the Master of Information Systems degree. This unit was taught during semester 1 in 2009 to a cohort (n = 39) of international students. A PBL approach was chosen to address the difficulties of engaging the students with, not only the subject material, but also with their peers and the lecturer.
The paper provides a description of the approach adopted and compares the PBL approach to traditional teaching practices used in the degree. The results highlight that the objective of increasing student engagement was achieved with the unit having a 92% attendance record and all students actively engaging with the material and group work in the workshops. A comparison of final marks achieved by students in the same unit in 2008 is presented. Additionally, a second comparison with another unit delivered to the same cohort during semester one, 2009 is presented. The results provide evidence of significant improvements for both students and staff. More importantly the PBL approach overcame the recognised difficulties of engaging international students in new styles of learning.
Refereed Conference Paper
Problem-based Learning, International Students, Student Engagement, Student Learning