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Chinese students' adaptation to learning in an *American university: A multiple case study

Juan Xu, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Students from different cultures have experienced different teaching/learning systems in their home countries. The Chinese teaching/learning system is particularly different from the US system because of the great culture distinctions between the two nations. Despite the increasing number of Chinese international students in the US colleges and universities and the suggestion that these students have great difficulties in adjusting to the US system, few studies had been done to explore these students' experiences in adapting to the teaching and learning approaches in the US. ^ The purpose of this study was to describe the process eleven Chinese international graduate students enrolled in an American Midwest university went through in adapting to the US teaching and learning system and to identify the coping strategies they utilized in the adaptation. The participants were selected from the newly arrived Chinese international students who had obtained a graduate degree back in China during the previous 5 years. ^ The qualitative research paradigm was adopted for the multiple case study. Interview was the main data collection method. A total of four interviews were conducted with each of the eleven participants in different stages of the semester. Data were analyzed through direct interpretation, categorical aggregation, pattern seeking, and naturalistic generalization. ^ Although the participants were academically successful in their study for the first semester, they had experienced difficulties caused mainly by the language deficiency and the lack of awareness of the great differences in teaching and learning between their home institutions in China and the US institution, such as the differences in expectations and in student performance assessment for a course. ^ The data and report were verified through member check and peer review. Other measures were also taken to reduce research biases. ^ The results of the study were discussed in light of the existing literature. Recommendations were also provided to the major audience of the study. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Educational Psychology|Sociology, Ethnic and Racial Studies

Recommended Citation

Xu, Juan, "Chinese students' adaptation to learning in an *American university: A multiple case study" (2002). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3059973.