Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication, Department of


First Advisor

Barbara Y. LaCost

Date of this Version

Summer 8-2011

Document Type



A thesis presented to the faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree of Master of Arts

Major: Educational Administration

Under the supervision of Professor Barbara Y. LaCost

Lincoln, Nebraska, August 2011


Copyright 2011, Hui Chen


The purpose of this study was to investigate the difficulties and opportunities that Chinese transfer students encounter in learning in one American university. The researcher also explored the strategies that transfer students used to deal with the difficulties and opportunities.

The study employed qualitative survey and interview methods. Ninety-seven students who transferred from Zhejiang University City College and Xi’an Jiaotong University City College to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln were invited to participate. These students came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln through the Partner Degree Program (PDP). Forty-one individuals completed the online survey and two students participated in interviews. The participants were asked about their learning experiences in UNL, including the learning abilities in class and after class. The content involved reading, listening, writing and speaking and students’ attitudes towards American teaching methods. Seven questions directed the research: (a) what is the student’s basic information? (b) how do students evaluate their English abilities in general? (c) how do students evaluate their English abilities in listening, speaking, reading and writing? (d) how do students evaluate their performances in class? (e) what are students’ attitudes towards American teaching methods? (f) what are students’ attitudes towards assignments after classes? and (g) regarding the difficulties encountered as transfer students, what are the attitudes towards credit transfer, class selection, having classes, doing homework, and communicating with English-speaking students?

The results demonstrated that the transfer students from PDP have difficulties in adjusting to American learning environment. The professional words, instructors’ accents, and speaking speeds were the three factors that hindered most the students’ learning on the American campus. Moreover, students’ English abilities were an important factor. Their personal characteristics and the learning habits formed in Chinese learning environments made them need more time to adjust to the new learning environment. Helping students better adjust to the American campus and encouraging instructors to raise their own awareness of students’ difficulties is essential for students success on the complex American campus.

Advisor: Barbara Y. LaCost