Advances in Health Sciences Education

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 369–377 | Cite as

Are Asian international medical students just rote learners?

  • Mohsen TavakolEmail author
  • Reg Dennick


A wide variety of countries are seeking to attract international medical students. This could be due to the fact that their universities not only receive the economic benefit from these students, but also because they recognise the issues of cultural diversity and pedagogical practice. This review paper draws on literature to understand more fully the learning process of Asian international students. Whereas views on learning are different across cultures, medical school teachers must understand how Asian international students learn based on their culture. Two general themes emerged from the literature review: firstly culture’s influence on learning and secondly memorisation versus understanding, both of which relate to the learning process of Asian international students. This study shows that Asian international students have a different approach to learning, which is not just about rote learning. Changes in attitudes towards Asian international students may stimulate the internationalisation of a more culturally sensitive form of medical education. The paper suggests further work on the area of appreciative thinking in order to identify the epistemological and ontological dimensions for a flexible approach to learning.


Asian international students International students Rote learner 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Medical Education UnitThe University of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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