International student transition: Focusing on researching international pedagogy for educational sustainability

Meeri Hellsten


The internationalisation of higher education has brought new
dimensions of inquiry into cross-cultural aspects of pedagogy and
practice. From the student learning perspective, a smooth transition into new and foreign learning environments is believed to determine academic success. However, the international academic transition period can be challenging for many students. Problems have been reported in the areas of poor decoding of English language and critical thinking skills; failure to participate in collaborative learning modes (e.g. group discussions); and difficulties communicating effectively in social settings. Refuting arguments have been provided by those seeking to break down ill-formed correlations between cultural anomalies and
cognitive deficit. This paper takes the premise that sustainable forms of pedagogy in international contexts hinge on researching the language, culture and discourse intersection in academic learning communities during student transition. It will examine international students’ cross-cultural learning experiences as attributed to internal and external factors. The paper discusses international students’ interpretations of those intercultural
communicative subtleties that are manifest in academic discourse and that may be overlooked by the academic community. The paper concludes by providing some implications for sustaining teaching and learning in international contexts.

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