Thursday, November 03, 2011

Chinese Undergraduate Students - Issues and Opportunities

In the Behavioral Econ course I taught last spring I confronted some of the issues discussed in this article.  There was a high turnover at the beginning of the semester, I believe because the course was writing intensive and some of the international students found that intimidating, so they dropped.  Another issue emerged regarding in class discussion.  I've always tried to promote a form of Socratic dialog.  I think it is the natural way to teach economics.  Sometimes it doesn't work because students won't participate and I don't like calling on students who do not raise their hands.  But last spring I had a different issue.  Some students were eager to participate but when I called on them I could not understand what they were saying.  It wasn't the economic content of what they were saying.  It was their spoken English.  I didn't resolve that issue well.

The snip below is from the end of this quite interesting article, a collaboration between The Chronicle of Higher Ed and The New York Times.  Of course, the money is a big part of this.  At Illinois out-of-state tuition is three times the in-state level. But even with those low-to-the-ground reasons for enrolling so many Chinese students, there are some more elevated reasons as well.  Higher Education is an export product and in this case should ultimately reduce the friction between China and the U.S. 

So I think we should be talking about the low to the ground issues more and developing coping strategies.  I've only heard this discussed in one context - the Writer's Workshop on campus has been overrun by international students.  The issue is broader than that and it deserves a broader set of responses. 

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