[LINK] "Group Assessment"

Stephen Loosley stephenloosley at outlook.com
Mon Sep 2 18:16:34 AEST 2019

> Sunday, 1 September 2019 5:29 PM
> Subject: Re: [LINK] "Group Assessment"
> How to effectively teach multicultural classes within a limited budget
> and in a way that’s fair to everyone? Maybe your digital initiatives can
> be one answer.   Whatever, it must involve much more than a current
> inadequate ANU policy? For eg, only in their first year they get a third
> extra-time, and, are allowed to use a language dictionary! This seems
> a hopeless, inadequate and pathetic solution to this problem  (snip)
> Ref: https://policies.anu.edu.au/ppl/document/ANUP_004603

Opinion: Australian universities

“Take the money and run: how Australian universities let down their Chinese students”

“Our institutions are quick to accept Chinese students’ money, but far too slow to invest in the tools to ensure their inclusion”

By  Yang Tian  (Yang Tian works for the digital community team at Guardian Australia)  Mon 2nd Sep 2019

.. Chinese students are not oblivious to their perceived limitations; in fact, they are continually reminded of them as they navigate an education system that operates without them in mind. Concepts that local students struggle with become inscrutable, assigned readings take twice or triple the time to complete, and written assessments become Sisyphean tasks to overcome.

A degree should be challenging, but not insurmountable.

Whether it’s reevaluating entry requirements, implementing supplementary language training tailored to course content, investing in bilingual teachers or translators in tutorials, the bureaucracies that willingly take Chinese students’ money need to invest in resources to facilitate their inclusion.

Measures should be taken to ensure that students, both local and international, can focus on the experiences and ideas they have to offer each other.

Among the Chinese students I shared classrooms with were experienced journalists who worked at their hometown news stations, staff writers for metropolitan papers, visual artists with featured exhibitions, and aspiring documentary makers ... This is a community bursting at the seams with untapped potential, but without the support structures to empower their learning and help articulate their needs, the championing of diversity will continue to ring hollow.

Until we humanise Chinese students in the public discourse, academic institutions will continue to use dollar signs as placeholders for their hopes and dreams. It is our collective loss if these organisations can’t muster the interest to try and understand their perspectives, especially when so many stretch themselves to understand us.

Also: https://www.smh.com.au/national/sydney-universities-hiding-from-the-facts-about-chinese-students-20190820-p52ivl.html

Roughly 24 per cent of all students at the University of Sydney come from China. The figures are nearly as high at UNSW (23 per cent) and UTS (17 per cent). There are more Chinese students at these three inner-Sydney universities than in all 33 public universities in the US state of California. This extraordinary concentration makes it all too easy for Chinese students to live in a Chinese bubble.

Every semester I have Chinese students in my classes who struggle to have even basic conversations with me about their homework. Forget about class discussion. And I teach in the social sciences, which attract a culturally curious student body. I hear stories of business students who complete entire semester-long team projects in Chinese, then let the best English speaker in the group write up the results.

Australian universities are simply admitting too many Chinese students, and too many of them can't comfortably express themselves in English. Minimum language requirements for direct admission are generally adequate, but many Chinese students enter with lower scores through back-door university "foundation" programs. Exactly how many is a mystery, because these privately operated preparatory programs do not report student numbers.

International students who come in with good language skills and immediately immerse themselves in local social life are likely to be ready for success by the time they get down to serious academic work in their second and third years. Chinese students who spend their first year living in Sydney's China bubble never get better. Some have even told me that their English language skills deteriorated at university.

With so many students struggling with the language, academic standards inevitably suffer. I can teach simple factual material to students with limited English, but I can't engage them in sophisticated team projects. In my quantitative methods class, I can teach them statistical techniques, but I can't teach them when and how to use them. Worst of all, I can't teach them how to write meaningful term papers, because I don't have the time or the training to teach them how to write English in the first place.

For example, most Australians know that in China, family names come first and personal names second: Xi Jinping is President Xi, not President Jinping. Yet I have taught Chinese students in their second or third year at the University of Sydney who still can't alphabetise Western authors by family name in a reference list. Some can't even distinguish between the name of a journal and the title of an article in that journal. It really is that bad.

Unfortunately, all of this is anecdotal. Every colleague I talk to has the same stories to tell, but we don't have any data to offer. Universities could easily collect the data, but they refuse to admit that they have a problem. Instead, they hide behind the pro forma stance that any student who passes the minimum English requirements for admission is ready to study in English.

Well, my Chinese students speak and write pro forma English. That's not good enough. We owe it to them to help them improve their English language skills, and that means admitting fewer Chinese students, then giving them more support when they arrive. Anyone who spends four years and six figures on an Australian university degree should at least graduate fluent in English. It's our responsibility to make sure that they do.

Salvatore Babones is an adjunct scholar at the Centre for Independent Studies, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, and author of the paper The China Student Boom and the Risks It Poses to Australian Universities.

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