Migrant Indian Students Down Under: Students and Lecturers Align Learning Expectations

Ms Maureen Lewis,
Ms Susan Duraisamy
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Increasing numbers of Indian students enrolling on our nursing programme over the last three years, have presented specific differences in learning experience and expectation. Migrants ourselves, we set out in our roles as staff developer and support person for Indian students, to identify the learning needs of Indian students and seek strategies to smooth their transition.

In focus group discussions Indian students said that they 'felt like strangers' and identified poor interaction with local students and issues around assignment writing as impacting negatively on their ability to succeed. While anxious to enter the learning culture of the department and institute they had little success in getting the extramural support they needed through the Student Learning Centre, their lecturers or local students, and felt that being able to approach Indian students in the next level of the course would be preferable and more constructive. Their main objective was to find out what style and level or depth of academic writing is required to do well in the course, or if they were 'on the right track'. In response to the issues raised, we designed two interventions.

The first was to establish a student mentoring system where Indian students mentored other Indian students and could exchange experiences and expectations. The second was to present an information sharing session for staff outlining students' experiences and requests for exemplars and clearer assignment briefs. Induction for entry-level students and assessment issues were discussed and strategies identified for further development. Students were pleased with the efforts to align learning expectations of students and staff. A start had been made in negotiating the conflict between students' desire to be 'on track' in the new culture of learning and lecturers' desire to be facilitators of learning in its broadest sense and not to prescribe the learning too tightly.

Keywords: Indian Students, Culture of Learning, Experiences and Expectations
Stream: Community, Culture, Globalisation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Migrant Indian Students Down Under

Ms Maureen Lewis

Programme Leader, Centre for Educational Development, Manukau Institute of Technology
New Zealand

My teaching career has been divided between South Africa and New Zealand. My first twelve years of teaching art was spent in South African white secondary schools, after which I moved into the tertiary sector to teach art and history of art methodology at a university designated for Indian students. The following nine years were rich with learning about creativity, difference, culture, politics and how these intersected with teaching and learning. In 1994 I moved to New Zealand and taught secondary school art until I was able to find work at a polytechnic. For the last eight years I have worked in a staff development unit as programme leader for a teacher training programme. Induction of new staff has been another of my roles and it is in these two areas particularly that I have made contact with numerous migrant staff and students and enjoyed the opportunity to offer mentoring and support. It was in this capacity that I met my co-researcher Susan Duraisamy, who also participated in a research project I undertook on migrant women staff. Our experiences as migrants and teachers and a shared passion for supporting other migrants led us to work together on the project, 'Migrant Indian Students Down Under: students and lecturers align expectations'.

Ms Susan Duraisamy

Lecturer,, Manukau Institute of Technology
New Zealand

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