December 1, 2014
In the past few years it’s not been unusual for Don Bacon to walk into his classroom on day one and find that half his students are from China. “I realized I’m going to have to change how I do some things,” said Bacon, a professor of marketing at the University of Denver.
“If you do some things that don’t work great for 10 percent of your students but work for the other 90 percent you can probably keep doing that and be successful as a teacher,” he said (though he noted that wouldn’t be optimal either). “When it gets to be half the class and you’re realizing you’re not meeting the needs of half the class, that’s a problem.”
As U.S. campuses have dramatically increased their international student populations in recent years, more and more faculty members are encountering a different demographic of student than they are used to – or at least they’re encountering that demographic more frequently. They’re seeing more non-native speakers of English who in many cases are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with American classroom norms: participating in classroom discussions, asking the professor a question, engaging in group work. Plagiarism can be a problem, in part due to different citation practices in different countries.
New data from the Institute of International Education show that the number of international students at U.S. campuses has increased by 72 percent since 2000, fueled in large part by a fivefold increase in the number of students from the dominant sending country, China. A total of 231 U.S. universities now host 1,000 or more international students, compared to 135 in 2000.
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