It's more than a piece of paper
: Chinese students' experience of learning in Australia

  • Jane Qinjuan Zhang

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    This study is an investigation on overseas Chinese students’ experience of learning in Australia. It is a search for an understanding of the processes and actions that some Chinese students underwent in a foreign environment where their first language and culture became subordinate.

    The research involves a group of nine Chinese students from mainland China who undertook post graduate studies at a university in Northern Australia. By using naturalistic and ethnographic approach, the study explores the informants’ experience of learning to cope, survive and develop within a new cultural environment with a focus on their academic processes by examining their approaches to study and learning. It also examines the inner world of the informants in how they reacted to conflict caused by cultural difference and how they made sense of their new experience in Australia.

    The informants’ learning is examined from different perspectives, specifically:
    learning to learn in the foreign environment, learning a new culture through
    interaction with local people and studying a new academic discipline in a second
    language within the culture of the second language.

    The research identifies the important characteristics and issues related to adult
    learning in cross-cultural contexts. Moreover, it reveals the significant role of
    informal learning of the informants which is largely overlooked by other research on Chinese students, and the importance of critical reflection in situated learning and self-directed learning processes which has had little discussion in the literature. This study provides unique information that has a personal touch and that is not available in other research reports on Chinese students in Australia.
    Date of AwardMar 2005
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorAllan Arnott (Supervisor) & Greg Shaw (Supervisor)

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