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Supporting international students' transitional coping strategies

Jeanne Dawson and Grace Conti-Bekkers
Curtin University of Technology
In their first months of Australian university education, international students experience a wide range of transitional difficulties associated with their change of physical, cultural, and educational environment. Such difficulties are not exclusive to international students - most students experience some sense of transitional dislocation - but for international students these shared problems of transition are usually compounded by difficulties not only of language but also of a lack of familiar points of reference.

In addressing such difficulties, it is not sufficient to offer international students a standard 'guide to success at an Australian university'; we must also offer them encouragement and practical support in developing their own strategies through which to negotiate learning in the new environment.

The paper argues that the key to supporting international students through their transition to study at Australian universities is not only to give them practical strategies to be successful learners in the Australian educational system, but also to give them ways of framing these strategies within their own personal and cultural experiential contexts. It points out the importance of affirming students' cultural identity and prior experience.

The accompanying vignette briefly describes the approach taken at Curtin's International Student Learning Support Centre through the StudyPlus (International) Program, and raises issues of intercultural communication and understanding among teachers, learners, and the institution.

Authors: Dr Jeanne Dawson, Learning Support Coordinator, Centre for Educational Advancement, Curtin University of Technology. j.s.dawson@curtin.edu.au
Ms Grace Conti-Bekkers, Lecturer, Centre for Educational Advancement, Curtin University of Technology

Presentation format: Roundtable

Please cite as: Dawson, J. and Conti-Bekkers, G. (2002). Supporting international students' transitional coping strategies. In Focusing on the Student. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 5-6 February 2002. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2002/abstracts/dawson-abs.html

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Created 2 Dec 2001. Last revision: 1 Feb 2002. HTML: Roger Atkinson [ rjatkinson@bigpond.com ]