Advertisement

Higher Education

, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 333–350 | Cite as

Learning diversity in higher education: A comparative study of Asian international and Australian students

  • Prem Ramburuth
  • John McCormick
Article

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the learning style preferences and approaches to learning of international students from Asian backgrounds, and make comparisons with the learning styles of Australian students. The sample consisted of 78 newly arrived international students from Asian countries, and 110 Australian students, studying at the same university.

Two survey instruments, the Study Process Questionnaire (Biggs 1987c) and Perceptual Learning Style Preference Questionnaire (Reid 1987) were used to investigate cognitive and environmental dimensions to student learning. Descriptive statistics and multiple discriminant analyses were employed for data analysis.

No statistically significant differences were found between Asian international and Australian students in their overall `Approaches to Learning'. However, Asian international students demonstrated significantly higher use of deep motivation, surface strategies, and achieving strategies, whilst Australian students demonstrated higher use of deep strategies and surface motivation. The groups also differed significantly in their `Learning Style Preferences' in group, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic modes of learning, with the strongest difference being in group learning, supporting the notion of Asian students being more `collaborative' in their learning styles.

The findings draw attention to dimensions of learning diversity that may be present in Australian tertiary classrooms, and could have implications for teaching and management of this diversity. The findings may also have relevance to countries with similar `western' traditions to Australia and cross cultural student populations.

higher education learning learning diversity learning style preferences motivation 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Australian International Education Foundation (1998). Survey of International Students in Australia. Canberra: Australian Government Printing Service.Google Scholar
  2. Ballard, B. and Clanchy, J. (1984). Study Abroad: A Manual for Asian Students. Malaysia: Longman.Google Scholar
  3. Ballard, B. and Clanchy, J. (1991). Teaching Students from Overseas: A Brief Guide for Lecturers and Supervisors. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire.Google Scholar
  4. Bauder, T. and Milman, J. (1990). ‘ESL teaching and learning styles at the University of the Americas, Puebla, Mexico’, Paper presented at the 24th Annual Meeting of the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. San Francisco.Google Scholar
  5. Biggs, J. (1990). ‘Individual differences in study processes and the quality of learning outcomes’, Higher Education 8, 381–394.Google Scholar
  6. Biggs, J.B. (1987a). Study Process Questionnaire Manual. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  7. Biggs, J.B. (1987b). Student Approaches to Learning and Studying. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  8. Biggs, J.B. (1987c). Study Process Questionnaire. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.Google Scholar
  9. Biggs, J. (1990). ‘Asian students’ approaches to learning: Implications for teaching and learning’, Paper presented at the 8th Australasian Tertiary Learning Skills and Language Conference. Queensland University of Technology, Australia.Google Scholar
  10. Biggs, J.B. (1995). ‘Student approaches to learning, constructivism, and student-centred learning’, Paper presented at the Twentieth International Conference on Improving University Teaching. University of Maryland, University College and City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong.Google Scholar
  11. Biggs J.B. (1996). ‘Western misconceptions of the confucian-heritage learning culture’, in Watkins, D.A. and Biggs, J.B. (eds.), The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences. Hong Kong: CERC and ACER, pp. 45–67.Google Scholar
  12. Biggs J.B. and Watkins, D. (1996). ‘The Chinese learner in retrospect’, in Watkins, D.A. and Biggs, J.B. (eds.), The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences. Hong Kong: CERC and ACER, pp. 269–285.Google Scholar
  13. Brislin, R.W., Lonner, W.J. and Thorndike (1973). Cross Cultural Research Methods. NewYork: John Wiley and Sons.Google Scholar
  14. Burns, R.B. (1991). ‘Study and stress among first year overseas students in an Australian university’, Higher Education Research and Development 10(1), 61–77.Google Scholar
  15. Chappel, S., Gray, J., Head, M., O'Regan, K. (1993). The Educational Expectations and Experiences of Indonesian and Malaysian Students Studying in South Australia. Report submitted to the Tertiary Multicultural Education Committee, University of South Australia, Australia.Google Scholar
  16. Cohen, J. (1977). Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  17. Curry, L. (1983). ‘An organization of learning styles theories and constructs’, Paper presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of The American Educational Research Association. Montreal.Google Scholar
  18. Curry, L. (1990). ‘A critique of the research on learning styles,’ Educational Leadership October, pp. 50–54.Google Scholar
  19. Davidman, L. (1981). ‘Learning style: the myth, the panacea, the wisdom’, Phi Delta Kappan 62, 641–645.Google Scholar
  20. Department of Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (1998), Overseas Students Statistics. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service.Google Scholar
  21. Dunn, R. (1988). ‘Teaching students through their perceptual strength or preferences’, Journal of Reading 31(4), 304–309.Google Scholar
  22. Dunn, R. and Dunn, K. (1978). Teaching Students Through Their Individual Learning Styles: A Practical Approach. Virginia: Reston Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  23. Dunn, R., Dunn, K. and Price, G.E. (1981). ‘Learning styles: Research vs. opinion’, Phi Delta Kappan 62, 645–646.Google Scholar
  24. Dunn, R., Dunn, K. and Price, G.E. (1989). Learning Style Inventory (LSI). Kansas: Price Systems Inc.Google Scholar
  25. Dunn, R. and Griggs, S.A. (1995). Multiculturalism and Learning Style – Teaching and Counseling Adolescents. Connecticut: Praeger.Google Scholar
  26. Dunn, R., Griggs, S.A. and Price, G.E. (1993). ‘Learning styles of Mexican American and Anglo-American elementary school students’, Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development 21(4), 237–247.Google Scholar
  27. Entwistle, N. and Ramsden, P. (1983). Understanding Student Learning. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar
  28. Gatfield, T. and Gatfield, R. (1994). ‘The Asian and the Australian student higher education learning process: Is there a need to modify the Australian teaching methodologies to draw on the Asian learning processes? An exploratory investigation’, Paper presented at the HERDSA Annual Conference, Higher Education in Transition. Australian National University, Canberra.Google Scholar
  29. Gow, L., Balla, J., Kember, D. and Hau, K.T. (1996). ‘Learning approaches of Chinese people: A function of socialisation processes and the learning’, in Bond, M.H. (ed.), The Handbook of Chinese Psychology. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Gow, L., Kember, D., Biggs, J., Chow, R. and Balla, J. (1989). ‘Student approaches to learning in tertiary institutions: Report on a multi-institutional and longitudinal study’, in Bickley, V. (ed.), Language Teaching and Learning Styles Within and Across Cultures. Hong Kong: Institute of Language in Education, pp. 183–189.Google Scholar
  31. Hattie, J. and Watkins, D. (1981). ‘Australian and Filipino investigations of the internal structure of Biggs’ new study process questionnaire’, British Journal of Educational Psychology 51, 241–244.Google Scholar
  32. Hickcox, L.K. (1995). ‘Learning styles: A survey of adult learning style inventory models’, in Sims, R.S. and Sims, S.J. (ed.), The Importance of Learning Styles: Understanding the Implications for Learning, Course Design, and Education. Connecticut: Greenwood Press, pp. 29–47.Google Scholar
  33. Hyland, K. (1994). ‘The learning styles of Japanese learners’, JALT Journal 16(1), 55–74.Google Scholar
  34. Jalali, F. (1988). A cross cultural comparative analysis of the learning styles and field depend-ence/ field independence characteristics of selected fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students of Afro, Chinese, Greek and Mexican Heritage. Doctoral Dissertation, St. John's University.Google Scholar
  35. Kaputin, C. (1988). Report investigating teaching and learning styles in Singapore and Malaysia. Report on the Overseas Student Programme, Curtin University of Technology, Australia.Google Scholar
  36. Kember, D., Gow, L., Chow, R., Slaw, I., Barnes, P. and Hunt, J. (1989). ‘Approaches to study of students whose first language is not English’, in Bickley, V. (ed.), Language Teaching and Learning Styles Within and Across Cultures. Hong Kong: Institute of Language in Education, pp. 198–206.Google Scholar
  37. Kember, D. and Gow, L. (1990). ‘Cultural specificity of approaches to study’, British Journal of Educational Psychology 60, 356–363.Google Scholar
  38. Kember, D. and Gow, L. (1991). ‘A challenge to the anecdotal stereotype of the Asian student’, Studies in Higher Education 16(2), 117–128.Google Scholar
  39. Marton, F. (1988). ‘Describing and improving learning’, in Schmeck, R.R. (ed.), Learning Strategies and Learning Styles. New York: Plenum Press, pp. 53–81.Google Scholar
  40. Marton, F., Dall'Alba, G. and Tse, K.L. (1996).’ Memorizing and understanding: The keys to the paradox?’, in Watkins, D.A. and Biggs, J.B. (eds.), The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences. Hong Kong: CERC and ACER, pp. 69–83.Google Scholar
  41. Marton, F., Dall'Alba, G. and Tse, K.L. (1993). The Paradox of the Chinese Learner (Occasional Paper No. 93.1). Victoria, Australia: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Educational Research and Development Unit.Google Scholar
  42. Mezger, J. (1992). Bridging the Intercultural Communication Gap: A Guide for TAFE Teachers of International Students. Tasmania, Australia: National TAFE Overseas Network.Google Scholar
  43. Niles, S. (1995). ‘Cultural differences in learning motivation and learning strategies: A comparison of overseas and Australian students at an Australian university’, International Journal of Intercultural Relations 19(3), 369–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Noesjirwan, J. (1970). ‘Attitudes to learning of the Asian students in the West’, Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 1(4), 393–397.Google Scholar
  45. On, L.W. (1996). ‘The cultural context for Chinese learners: Conceptions of learning in the Confucian tradition’, in Watkins, D.A. and Biggs, J.B. (eds.), The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences Hong Kong: CERC and ACER, pp. 29–41.Google Scholar
  46. O'Neil, M.J. and Child, D. (1984). Biggs’ SPQ: ‘A British study of its internal structure’, British Journal of Educational Psychology 54, 228–234.Google Scholar
  47. Phillips, D.J. (1990). ‘Overseas students and their impact on the changing face of professional education in universities’, Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education Annual Conference. Sydney University, Australia.Google Scholar
  48. Price, G.E. and Griggs, S.A. (1985). Counseling College Students Through Their Individual Learning Styles. MI: Ann Arbour.Google Scholar
  49. Ramsden, P. (1988). ‘Context and strategy: Situational influences on learning’, in Schmeck, R.R. (ed.), Learning Strategies and Learning Styles. New York: Plenum Press, pp. 159–181.Google Scholar
  50. Reid, J.M. (1987). ‘The learning style preferences of ESL students’, TESOL Quarterly 21(1), 87–111.Google Scholar
  51. Reid, S.A. (1989). Learning and Teaching: Hong Kong Polytechnic 1989 (Mimeograph). Hong Kong: Hong Kong Polytechnic.Google Scholar
  52. Samuelowicz, K. (1987a). ‘Learning problems of overseas students: Two sides of a story’, Higher Education Research and Development 6(2), 121–133.Google Scholar
  53. Samuelowicz, K. (1987b). ‘Learning problems of overseas students as seen by academic staff: What can be done?’, Paper presented at the 13th Annual Conference of the Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia, Perth, Australia.Google Scholar
  54. Sims, R.S. and Sims, S.J. (eds.) (1995). The Importance of Learning Styles: Understanding the Implications for Learning, Course Design and Education. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar
  55. SPSS Inc. (1986). SPSS-X Users Guide. Chicago: SPSS Inc.Google Scholar
  56. Swisher, K. and Deyhle, D. (1987). ‘Styles of learning and learning styles: Educational conflicts for American Indian/Alaskan Native youth’, Journal of Multilingual and Multi-cultural Development 8(4), 345–360.Google Scholar
  57. Tang, C. (1996). ‘Collaborative learning: The latent dimension in Chinese students’ learning’, in Watkins, D.A. and Biggs, J.B. (eds.), The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences. Hong Kong: CERC and ACER, pp. 183–204.Google Scholar
  58. Tang, K.C.C. (1993). ‘Spontaneous collaborative learning: A new dimension in student learning experience?’, Higher Education Research and Development 12(2), 117–123.Google Scholar
  59. Tang, C. and Biggs, J. (1996). ‘How Hong Kong students cope with assessment’, in Watkins, D.A. and Biggs, J.B. (eds.), The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences. Hong Kong: CERC and ACER, pp. 159–182.Google Scholar
  60. Todd, L. (1996). ‘Supervising overseas post-graduate students: Problem or opportunity’, in McNamara, D. and Harris, R. (eds.), Quality in Higher Education for Overseas Students. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  61. Volet, S. and Renshaw, P. (1996). ‘Chinese students at an Australian university: Adaptab-ility and continuity’, in Watkins, D.A. and J.B. (eds.), The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences. Hong Kong: CERC and ACER, pp. 205–220.Google Scholar
  62. Volet, S.E., Renshaw, P.D. and Tietzel, K. (1994). ‘A short term longitudinal investigation of cross cultural differences in study approaches using Biggs’ SPQ Questionnaire’, British Journal of Educational Psychology 64, 301–318.Google Scholar
  63. Wang, H. (1992). A descriptive study of the learning styles of Chinese and American graduate students and Professors. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Mississippi State University, Mississippi.Google Scholar
  64. Watkins, D.A. and Biggs, J.B. (1996). The Chinese Learner: Cultural, Psychological and Contextual Influences. Hong Kong: CERC and ACER.Google Scholar
  65. Watkins, D., Biggs, J. and Regmi, M. (1991). ‘Does confidence in the language of instruction influence a student's approach to learning?’, Instructional Science 20, 331–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Watkins, D. and Hattie, J. (1981). ‘The learning process of Australian university students: Investigations of contextual and personological factors’, British Journal of Educational Psychology 51, 384–393.Google Scholar
  67. Watkins, D., Regmi, M. and Astilla, A. (1991). ‘The Asian-learner-as-rote-learner stereotype: Myth or reality?’, Educational Psychology 2(1), 21–34.Google Scholar
  68. Zheng, L. (1990). ‘Chinese Students’ Performance in Australian ESL Courses’, Paper presented at the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference. Sydney, Australia.Google Scholar
  69. Zubir, R. (1988). ‘Descriptions of teaching and learning: A Malaysian perspective’, Studies in Higher Education 13(2), 139–149.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of International Business, Faculty of Commerce and EconomicsUniversity of New South WalesAustralia
  2. 2.School of EducationUniversity of New South WalesAustralia

Personalised recommendations