Murdoch researchers will investigate how Chinese communication students can better adapt to postgraduate study in Australian universities in a new project funded by the federal Office of Teaching and Learning.
A team of researchers led by Associate Professor Christine Daymon from the Asia Pacific Centre for Media Economics and Communications Management Research at Murdoch has received $200,000 to embark on the two year research project, which will see the Murdoch team collaborate with scholars from universities in Australia and China.
“If Australia is serious about becoming more a part of the Asian region, developing the cultural sensitivities of our teachers will be vital,” said Associate Professor Daymon.
“Chinese students are usually taught in a different way to Australian students and when they come over here for postgraduate study, they only have 12 to 18 months to get used to a system where the expectations and teaching practices of academics are often quite different.
“Australian postgraduate students are expected to engage in critical thinking and to voice their questions and opinions in seminars before they may necessarily be fully formed.
“The emphasis is on argumentation and debate through coursework and in small seminars, reading widely around topics, and learning independently. In China, the emphasis is on large lectures delivered by university academics and high stakes exams.”
Associate Professor Daymon said the team would work closely with Chinese academics to understand the differences in teaching and learning styles in China and Australia.
“We will develop teaching materials and practices which can be used in both China and Australia to help Chinese postgraduate students transition successfully to Australian universities,” she said.
“These resources could be used by Chinese lecturers and tutors to help students prepare before arrival and also by Australian academics to support the students during their studies.”
The researchers will also be developing materials for the students themselves and devising support systems which will help them to adjust to postgraduate study in Australia.
Associate Professor Daymon said there was very little existing research into what happened in Chinese classrooms and how Chinese students experienced postgraduate study in Australia.
“In the current climate where Australia is trying to develop its links with Asia in business, trade and education, it is very important to know how we can progress the educative experience for Chinese students,” she added.
“This is a potentially huge market for Australian universities, and Chinese postgraduate students will also benefit if they can adapt quickly and successfully to postgraduate study in Australia.”
Professor Daymon will be collaborating with colleagues from the University of Victoria, the University of Sydney, Deakin University and the University of Canberra. The Chinese partner in the research is the Communication University of China, which is based in Beijing. Fudan University in Shanghai is also participating in the project.