This chapter presents the findings from the analysis of the data collected from questionnaires and interviews. Findings are compared and contrasted with the established literature in order to explore the strength and weakness of this 2+2 programme.
4.2 Backgrounds of Participants
Fifty eight students finished the valid online questionnaires, and from which 12 students were interviewed. In order to keep the gender balance and various data, similar gender numbers from different UK partner universities and subjects were collected. The participants' details have been shown in the following tables.
The Table 1 showed the top 3 reasons participants chose among 8 reasons in the questionnaire, occupying 60%, 58%, 55% respectively. It showed that more participants valued these three factors. Following is the in-depth exposure of the reasons why these factors impact them more.
At first, in the questionnaire, 60% students gave the main reason for the value of foreign academic certificate. There were two main factors in it. One was for competing in the job market. As Student D said:
Accounting and Finance is very popular in China, especially in Shanghai. I and my parents hope I could work at an international corporation in Shanghai after graduation. Moreover, the domain of Accounting and Finance is very strong in Britain. Therefore, I have more competitiveness in the talent market with a British Accounting and Finance certificate.
Student D's expectation is accordant to those of Malaysian students which have been mentioned in the literature review. As Shanghai is a metropolitan city, owning a foreign certificate is a good beginning entering the international company. In addition, those Singaporean and Hong Kong earner-learners were especially eager to expand work-related knowledge and be promoted through gaining an international certificate (Chapman & Pyvis, 2005; Evans & Tragenza, 2003). This finding proves further the importance of holding a foreign certificate to job seeking and promotion.
The other factor was for the reputation of foreign university. As Student I recounted:
Comparing with 3+1 Accounting and Finance programme in SBC, I prefer 2+2. Because it has more and better UK partner universities I could choose, such as University of Leeds, whose Accounting and Finance subject is very famous and academics are very strong. Instead, the partner university of 3+1 programme is not good and I have no choice to attend other universities except the only one university.
It indicated that participants took care of the reputation of foreign university was for its academic guarantee. However, in the study of Evans & Tragenza (2003), most Hong Kong students barely care the reputation of status of Australian universities or other transnational education institutions. They even did not hear about the university's name which offer transnational programme, let alone its reputation (Evans & Tragenza, 2003).Interestingly, although some Hong Kong students valued the reputation of some universities, they regarded 'famous university' as those had a long history of running school in Hong Kong which were not necessary renowned (Evans & Tragenza, 2003). Instead, the most significant factor influenced Hong Kong students' choice is the cost.
Comparing to the participants in my study, there were only 10% of them regarded cost as the main choosing reason, and all of them were satisfied with the tuition fee (RMB 6,5000/year) in the questionnaire. The phenomenon is easy to explain. Firstly, the participants in Evans and Tragenza's (2003) study were earner-learners. They made their own tuition and inclined more to professional development. Instead, participants in my study were just undergraduates. Their tuition fee was paid by their wealthy parents and considered more superficial like 'face' or 'gaining prestige'. Aspland & O'Donoghue (1994) had found that the concept of face was an significant incentive for Chinese students to study hard.
From above, it suggests that participants care the value of foreign certificate not only for increasing competition in the job market, but also for the reputation of foreign universities and relative subjects in order to get the high quality of academics. Cost, however, is less important for them.
Secondly, as mentioned in previous literature, English competency as one of soft skills is also considered by offshore students. In this case, 58% students chose pure English teaching environment as the second main reason in choosing this programme. All participants were satisfied with the original English textbooks, and nearly half of participants strongly felt benefit from the pure English environment. It is a common reason for those transnational students, especially for those whose mother language is not English. For example, Chanpman and Pyvis (2005, 2006a, b, 2007) in their three researches of transnational programme in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong have found that students chose this study mode for foreign degree of Australian universities mainly for enhancing English language competence. Their expectations were proved by those who had studied in UK partner universities in my study. All of them agreed that this programme reduced English language barrier, and 84% participants felt confident as communication with foreign lecturers and students. Among them, Student F's opinion represents their perspectives and also confirms former researchers' views:
Most of us are unable to enter Chinese universities. Therefore the English ability is not good enough comparing with my peer; let alone living in a totally English country directly. In the 2+2 programme, I had to listen, speak, and writing with English. It offered me a good opportunity to improve my English both in academic English and oral English with foreign teachers. From it, I get more confidence when studying abroad.
Actually, those cases mentioned above are under the theory of immersion education, in which students' second language is the medium of classroom instruction. They study academic courses through second language. Immersion language aims to develop students' communication competency and second language proficiency. However, the duration of immersion education is different between Chanpman and Pyvis's researches and my study. In studies of Chanpman and Pyvis, the type of immersion education is provided by intensive teaching within 1-2 weeks, while it lasts the whole academic years in this programme of my study. It means that students in my study are delivered in a pure English environment with a longer period. Moreover, Evans and Tragenza (2003) pointed out that Chinese students prefer real face-to-face interaction with foreign teachers, from which, they could get used to an unfamiliar learning environment successfully. It implies the longer students engage in pure English environment, the better they study. Therefore, it is wise for those students choosing this study's programme.
Last but not least, in the previous studies, students focus on individual development as an important factor of undertaking transnational programme (Waters, 2005). Considering this case's specificity (the next 2-year study in UK), reducing culture shock is also an important element of individual development for them.
Culture shock is not a new term which has been widely acknowledged in the international education researches. As defined by Oberg (1960) who is the person employed it, culture shock, is a culture foreign to an individual in his/her country. According to Oberg's explanation (1960, cited from Pyvis & Chapman, 2004, p.7), 6 characteristics of culture shock have been presented:
Strain or stress relating to psychological adaptation;
A sense of loss or deprivation resulting from the removal of friends, status, role, and personal possessions;
Fear of rejection by, or rejection of, the new culture;
Confusion in role definition;
Unexpected anxiety, disgust or indignation regarding cultural differences; and
Feelings of helplessness, including confusion, frustration and depression.
Among above 6 characteristics, the second and the third features have also been found in this transnational educational study. Over half of students (55%) chose appropriate period of transition for reducing culture shock. Besides, 7 out of 12 students in interviews presented that the first 2-year study in SBC was an appropriate transitional period for them. As Student I who was in SBC stated:
I have been studying in Hangzhou, China. And I have not been in other places, let alone go abroad. If I study abroad as graduating from high school, I am afraid I could not adapt to the foreign life. However, the first two-year study and the pure English environment in SBC could offer me a bridge to the foreign culture and language.
The situation that Student I concerned is not unusual. His demand of appropriate transitional duration in SBC reflects the expectation of reducing the negative effect of culture shock. At the same time, his statement implied the common concern of international students when studying in the foreign environments: feeling excluded or marginalised. For example, Ryan and Hellmundt (2003) found that most Chinese students studying in Australia universities had such negative feelings. Moreover, they linked the feeling of being excluded or marginalised with the feeling of rejection (Ryan and Hellmundt, 2003), which is in line with Oberg's third characteristics of culture shock.
Nonetheless, all participants (19) in UK appreciated this programme helped them reduce the culture shock. Specifically, Student D, who has been studying in UK for two years, reflected Student I's concern (i.e. the third characteristics of Oberg's culture shock) and the second of Oberg's might be overcome with the help of friends:
When spending 2 years in SBC, I have been getting mature and having stronger adaptability. However, the 1-year overseas life of 3+1 programme is too short to accommodate the UK life and study. Moreover, many schoolmates go abroad with me. I have friends studying the same major in the same UK university, and don't feel alone. When meeting with difficulties no matter in study or life, my friends help me to conquer them. Thus, I do not fear facing new things in UK and my parents are not worried much about my study abroad. Without friends, it is hard to imagine my life in UK.
It is clear that friendship in the foreign environment becomes extremely significant. With friends, students have the courage to face new culture with positive attitude. Singaporean students hope have someone discuss with in class at least, no matter how long those Singaporean students have studied abroad, and if there is a friend who joins the course with them, they will feel very lucky (Pyvis & Chapman, 2004). Both my participants and Singaporean students in the study of Pyvis & Chapman (2004) presented the drive for having friends when being abroad in order to reduce a sense of rejection by new culture and removal of friends.
On the whole, culture shock is a significant factor impacts international students and this is why students in SBC incline to choose 2-year study in SBC for a smooth transition of studying abroad. Although very few students felt they could fully getting rid of the 'fitting in' problem, even those in the last semester of the international programme (Pyvis & Chapman, 2004), transnational education could relieve this issue for students who plan to continue studying abroad to some extent. Just as Student D said, at least, studying abroad with first 2-year schoolmates could avoid loneliness. More or less, transnational education could reduce anxiety of culture shock, especially regarding to Oberg's second and third characteristics of culture shock---a sense of deprivation resulting from the removal of friends and fear of rejection by new culture.
4.5 Proportions of Foreign local teaching staff
Regarding the portion of teaching on my program, I was particular interested in the ratio of foreign and local teaching staff in the transnational programme. According to the classification of diverse transnational education modes as a continuum by Wallace & Dunn (2008), the proportion of foreign academics and local tutors/academics is also various. No matter what mode of transnational education, as mentioned earlier, students (usually postgraduates) prefer spending more real-and virtual-time with their foreign academics who are from the university awarding the degree than local tutors (Bennington & Xu, 2001). With regard to undergraduates, students in my study expressed similar views. When being asked 'It would benefit me if we could have lecturers who are Chinese in the program', nearly all students did not agree with it, of which 46% participants strongly disagree to add local academics. In terms of interviews, 7 out of 12 students stated their in-depth perceptions. Following is two examples of students:
I want foreigners as our academics. If Chinese academics take some lessons, I might grasp knowledge faster. However, it is far from improving English proficiency. Further, it will impede my own adaptability in UK. (Student C)
We do not need Chinese academics at all. Because there are more disadvantages. It goes against the original intention of choosing this programme, which is for a pure English teaching environment and successful connection to the later 2-year study in UK. (Student E)
From above, undergraduates in my study do not want to add Chinese academics because disadvantages largely overweight advantages, including less opportunity in English improvement and the block in smooth connection to Western education style. Like postgraduates, undergraduates in my study are also fond of more communication with foreign academics. Similarly, Milszewska (2006) also pointed out Hong Kong undergraduates in three transnational IT-related programmes expected more contact with foreign lecturers assisting their learning.
Although foreign academics had rights in curriculum design and assessment decision in this programme, participants in my study did not present strong tendency of authority and credibility in this respect, which has been reported in Dunn & Wallace's (2003) study. Instead, from participants' reasons of dislike of Chinese academics, we could see that they have the similar expectation as those in Dunn & Wallace's study (2008)--- exposure to English proficiency and familiarity to Western teaching style. Furthermore, Student D stated that they would take the lesson more seriously when foreign teachers have class. It also confirms the Bennington & Xu's (2001) interesting finding from Chinese MBA students that they would spontaneously regard Western academics are better in the academic area without any reason.
In contrast to no adding Chinese academics, students displayed the acceptance of Chinese tutors. As Student I said that local tutors helped her understand knowledge better regarding to details and difficult points:
I, with my classmates could understand the content in general, but cannot catch details in class. With some Chinese tutors, I could master knowledge better. In tutorial, they (Chinese tutors) mainly speak English except something difficult to explain or we do not understand in English.
In addition, Student K and Student C deemed that local tutors had the same thinking model as them and Chinese have obvious advantages in numbers and accounting:
It is better to have tutorials with Chinese tutors. Their thinking styles are similar to us and they have stronger logic than foreigners. The effect is obvious in accounting and maths tutorials.
Local tutors of this 2+2 Accounting of Finance programme are all related-subject masters with UK postgraduate certificates. They have enough capital to interpret Western knowledge to transnational students. Evans & Tragenza (2003) have found that this kind of local tutors are very effective in assisting postgraduates' transnational learning. Because they know about foreign culture and understand the transnational curriculum well. In addition, Hong Kong undergraduates welcome local tutors using Cantonese when explaining difficult points (Evans & Tragenza, 2003). These two findings have also been reflected in my study in terms of mainland Chinese undergraduates. Also, the 'cultural translator and mediator' as Chinese tutors (Leask, 2004) has been confirmed in my study as well.
In short, students in my study require foreign academics rather than Chinese academics teaching main courses in order to realize their goals involving enhancing English proficiency and successful transition of the 2+2 programme. They highly value the capability of foreign academics, though local tutors bring certain benefits to them including interpreting knowledge. As for enhancing communication with those two parts mentioned by Pannan & Gribble (2005) and Dunn & Wallace (2008), participants in my study do not have clear demand on it. Furthermore, the previous suggestion proposed by Leask (2004) about reconstruction of the local academics' proportion as full member might not change a lot under this case's circumstance.
A curriculum includes a series of courses, which students must complete it in order to pass a certain level of education. Usually, the transnational curriculum is delivered directly to local students. Most participants felt satisfied with the 4 terms of course organization and management (Table 2).
Table 3 (N=58)
About course organization and management
The timetable is arranged appropriately
Any changes in the program or teaching have been communicated effectively
The program is well organized and is running smoothly
I could well concentrate on the all sessions
Nevertheless, in the interview, participants evaluated the curriculum further in terms of the content they learnt.
On the one hand, 4 out of 6 students who were studying in UK partner universities mentioned the successful connection to British curriculum. For example:
What I have learnt offers me a very good foundation when studying in UK university. Some modules such as Management Accounting, Financial Accounting, Statistics and Economics have been studied in first 2-year study in SBC. (Student B)
Some content have been learnt in SBC. The courses in UK are just slightly deeper. It is not very difficult for me to learn. (Student F)
On the other hand, some students expressed that certain knowledge could not integrate local situation well, though teaching was not bad. For example, Student K complained the mismatch between British and Chinese accounting rules:
I did internship as accountant assistant in my father's company in one summer holiday and found that I could not do the basic things of accounting. Because the accounting rules in UK and China are completely different. In the end, I had to learn from the beginning in the work, despite my lecturer's good teaching.
Although students agreed the course management and the good connection to the British curriculum, some students criticized that part of courses lacks practical meaning due to less reflecting local situation. This finding also confirms the study of Evans & Tragenza (2003). When foreign universities spread curriculum to other countries or districts, the mismatch issue between delivered knowledge and skills, and required knowledge and skills by local societies appear (Evans & Tragenza, 2003). That is, the learning content does not meet the real social demand well. For example, in Macro-economics courses, Student L reflected that foreign academics often illustrated British topics reflecting British rules, regulations and practices with no relevance to China, which impeded her mastering knowledge.
4.7 Learning and teaching in transnational education
Learning and teaching is the core part of the education. Student-centered learning and teaching approach was adopted in this 2+2 Accounting and Finance programme. Meeting with unfamiliar learning and teaching style, students hold different views. Some students enjoyed it, while others disliked it.
4.7.1 Western learning style
To those who appreciated student-centered learning, an important factor was interaction activities. In the questionnaire, 69% participants expressed there was a good interaction in class. Similarly, in the interview, 11 participants expressed the appreciation of interaction with teachers and classmates in class. It is same as earlier finding in Wileswaska's (2006) study. Following are the two participants comments on it:
I like western teaching because of more interaction with lecturers. In macro-economics, my lecturer always asked us questions by name with kind smile. If your answer was right, he would praise you. If not, he would encourage you as well. I felt stimulation from him. Many students liked his lessons and no one chatted in his class. (Student A)
I like teaching method of foreign academics. There are many interactions in class. For instance, we often had presentations in Organisation Behavior module. I had a deeper and clearer understanding of knowledge through this kind of interaction. (Student G)
From above, students were both keen on interaction with foreign academics and students in class. This finding is in line with those of Pyvis and Chapman (2004) and Biggs (1996). They pointed out that Asian students liked interactive methods and teamwork in class.
However, from Student A's statement, participants' interactions in my study seem not to be initiative enough, instead, be more 'pushed'. On the one hand, Chinese student respect teachers highly (Watkins & Biggs, 2001) and are only ready to reply correct answers, they are willing to keep silence in class. On the other hand, they like communicating with teachers and classmates. Therefore, the Chinese-style interaction forms--- student being pushed to answer questions by name (Pyvis & Chapman, 2004) with encouragement. In Williams & Williams' (2012) study, they found that positive verbal statements such as encouragement and praise strongly impact students' motivation and enhance students' study. In the questionnaire, 64% students also appreciated encouragement from lecturers motivated them to do best. However, there were 32% students did not feel enough encouragement to motivate their study, and even several students denied they were motivated by teachers. Therefore, it is quite necessary to let more students feel seen and 'gotten' (Williams & Williams, 2012, p.13).
Besides, from Student G's experience, it suggested that the teamwork strengthened students' understanding of knowledge. It is in line with the study of Williams & Williams (2012), in which activities with common objectives in educational teaching, such as teamwork promotes continuous enhancement of learning.
Interestingly, half students held reservation opinion on the role of teamwork in the questionnaire. It seemed that they less appreciated the teamwork, which was largely opposite to the previous statement of Student G's preference to teamwork. In the interview, the inner reason revealed that after class, students did not like cooperating with each other:
I prefer individual coursework. It is troublesome for teamwork. I need to check and modify for my team members. But I could not say much to impose my thoughts on others' work. (Student K)
Teamwork is fresh to me which rarely did before. But I think it is relatively useless for me because there is no result when we discuss together after class. (Student I)
These two students argued that teamwork after class was stressful and helpless for them. It confirms Pyvis and Chapman's (2004) finding that Hong Kong students hoped to maintain intellectual independent in terms of assignments and highly professional projects after class. Therefore, interacting with students with proper approaches and timing are necessary to consider.
In the Western learning, students are required to do their coursework initially.
Table 4 (N=58)
About the workload
The workload, including math questions is appropriate
The difficulty of coursework of this program is high
There is a lot of pressure on me when doing coursework
As Table 3 has shown items about the workload, we could see that in general, most participants (97%) were satisfied with the course workload, including the math questions. But many of them (71%) thought the programme's coursework was demanding and more participants (81%) felt much pressure in doing this. Therefore, it is likely to indicate that the difficult coursework was one of elements pressuring students.
In addition, regarding academic support, 67% participants did not think they received sufficient advice and support from lecturers. The interview further revealed that 9 out of 12 students had much pressure in doing self-study, because there were no guidance on how to do it. For example, Student B was not satisfied with many self-directed learning and thought lectures were not responsible for him. Specifically, the learning they struggled most in the first two-year study was writing essays, doing oral work and reading original textbooks. When participants turned to study in UK, they found the quick adaption of Western learning style was the most effective way preventing fail. Following are representative recounts of some students in different aspects of self-study.
Student L and F expressed large pressure on writing essays regarding intensive essay workload, unfamiliarity to English writing and no direction to essays:
I needed to write an essay (2,000-3,000 words) per week. The words requirement was high and I did not know what to write. What I hope is more directions of essays, because I am not skilled in English writing. (Student L)
The economics lecturer was very demanding. He did not tell us how to write. Until approaching deadline that no one knew how to write, he gave a few guides. (Student F)
The essay writing is the representative learning style of Western education. It highly requires independent learning, encouraging exploring new materials, while Western academics are just the guiders. Therefore, just as Student F met, lecturers usually would not tell students information about essays. Otherwise, the core of critical thinking is meaningless. At the same time, the deep-rooted habit of repeating verbatim from texts for key words and sentences in essay writing in Chinese students' behaviour can occur because 'they have not developed the depth of English language skills that allow them to demonstrate and present a self that reflects a depth of learning and analysis' (Dunn & Wallace, 2004, p. 301). It causes the big pressure in writing essays to students.
In terms of oral work, Student H and Student F said no one was willing to do it and teachers could not get any feedback. In the end, lecturers turned to not ask students do the oral work.
You could do coursework whenever you want. Generally, these are expanded questions and do not need to write down. Lecturers would not check them. But in the next lesson, they would ask the previous questions. Usually, we are 'dumb' without responses. (Student H)
All work depends on self-consciousness. All modules required oral work, excepting a little paperwork in maths module. We regarded oral work as no work. Lecturers had to answer by themselves. (Student F)
The participants' indifference to the oral work is closely related to the traditional Chinese learning style. As what has been mentioned in the literature review, Chinese students adopt teacher-centered learning. All the coursework is in the form of paper work. They just need to reproduce what teachers have taught (Robinson, 1998). This kind of learning restrains their creative thinking, while oral work requires it. Facing it, participants neither know how to handle nor dare to reply, because they have been taught to give the perceived correct answers when replying lecturers' questions (Miliszewska, et al., 2003). Therefore, the dumb question is normal in this situation.
With regard to reading original textbooks, the good student, Student I, expressed reading English textbooks by herself was quite tough:
I had some difficulties in reading original English textbooks, though my all scores were high. The lessons foreign academics taught were simple, but I had to read many by myself after class, distinguishing what was important. Moreover, some professional terms, syntax, and sentence structure were strange to me. Sometimes, I needed to check dictionary cover to cover. (Student I)
Many students, like Student I, got high marks in this programme, but 63% participants felt that the textbooks were overall difficult for their understanding. In the early studies, Goby (1999) and Kuiper & Lin (1989) have found that cultural coding of English technical language are the obstacles for transnational students understanding information, even including Singaporean students whose both Chinese and English are their mother language. Although they use English, they often speak Hokkien Chinese with English-like words or syntax. The Singlish (Goby, 1999) has its own meaning in their contexts which might not accord to the meaning of pure English. Moreover, in the current research of Dunn & Wallace (2004), Singaporean students also complained their difficulties in understanding textbooks' English code. Dunn & Wallace (2004) argued that students' imperfect linguistic and cultural understanding mismatch their expectations and performance. As for those whose English is second language, Chinese students would meet more difficulties in cultural coding of English technical language.
Furthermore, the gap becomes more seriously to those who are studying in UK. Student D said he had to change learning style for preventing failing in UK study:
Although the workload is not heavy, essays are difficult. In the first 2-year study in SBC, I did not discuss with foreign academics much about my essay. But in UK, I found my essay was likely to fail if I only immersed myself in writing. Therefore, I turned to supervisors, consulting with them for each essay. It enhanced my writing greatly.
On the whole, meeting with different educational approaches, students struggled accommodating to them. In UK, they had to try their best to adjust themselves for not failing. These students displayed unaccustomedness to self-directed learning. No matter reading English original textbooks, writing essays or doing oral work, the new learning style were fresh to them. Students, even including distinguished students, felt much pressure and were at a loss.
In China, most Chinese students are still taught with teacher-centered approach. Teachers in class play the lead role (Turner & Acker, 2002), who cram knowledge to students. Gradually, Chinese students become rote learners (Phillips, 1990). In other words, this mode of education produces students without critical thinking and creativity. Most students in my study greatly depend on teachers, regarding them as authorities in educational process.
Therefore, students take it for granted that foreign academics should take responsibility for imparting all the knowledge to them. Comparing with teacher-centered approach, student-centered approach puts students at the core of whole education. Students play a leading role in their own study and are responsible for themselves. Academics, on the other hand, just guide them on the side. Therefore, the subjects of these two teaching approaches are opposite. Just as Student I added that foreign academics only provided general guidelines of essays, while Chinese teachers taught you how to do in detail. Meeting with student-centered learning style, the high proportion (81%) of feeling much pressure in doing coursework and 67% disagreement opinion of receiving sufficient advice and support from lecturers are not surprised.
4.7.2 Intercultural teaching
Although students understand what Western education demands them and know the benefits of Western education, the 2-year study in SBC is obviously not enough for them to change traditional Chinese learning style thoroughly. As Student L said:
I like lecturers stimulate students' initiatives to involve more students participating activities in class. However, it is impossible for us to be independent learner as Western students. It would be better to combine our real situationâ€¦Otherwise, no one would learn by himself/herself. (Student L)
The statement of Student L suggested the combination of Western and Chinese teaching methods would be more suitable to transnational students. For instance, 100% participants highly marked the flexibility of contacting staff after class, which is rarely accessible in UK. It confirms previous Leask's (2005) suggestion of using intercultural teaching in transnational education. In the interview, students illustrated more intercultural teaching methods participants preferred:
Some teachers' teaching style suits me well because they (foreign academics) have previous experience of teaching Chinese students. Take a lecturer for example, he taught maths in my class, giving instructions in detail and slowing speaking speed which was seldom met in UK. And another lecturer asked us take note when he was imparting knowledge. (Student D)
If you listened carefully in class, at least you could pass exams. Some teachers would tell you the examination ranges, which would not happen in UK. (Student F)
Comparing to academics in UK, foreign academics in the first 2-year programme in SBC 'watch us closely'. Several foreign academics would ask you whether having finished essays or needing any directions. (Student C)
The above shows that a portion of Western academics in this Accounting and Finance programme knew Chinese students' learning style and weakness, such as learning passively, concerning with content and exams, and English deficiency. They did not have cultural bias. Instead, they took account of participants' local learning style and using western teaching method properly to motivate their learning. As learning and teaching are mutual, from participants' perceptions of preferred Western learning and intercultural teaching style, foreign academics adopted certain intercultural skills to meet the needs of students, including Chinese style interaction, encouraging students enough, asking them taking notes, watching them closely, giving appropriate exam range, and open door policy. Foreign academics with cultural context awareness and intercultural teaching skills were highly appreciated by participants, and those have been regarded as the necessary quality by Gribble & Ziguras (2003) and Leask (2005). Nevertheless, from 55% reservation opinion to teachers' appropriate knowledge and expertise in teaching, and only several examples of preferred teaching style, we can see the number of academics with intercultural teaching approach is not high.
Just as what has been mentioned above and in the literature review, intercultural teaching is an important element in transnational teaching. How to foster more academics mastering intercultural teaching method is significant. However, the extensive immersion of local teaching would result in side effects. For example, Student L complained her Organization Behavior's lecturer only read PPT in lesson, of which there were many professional terms without combining examples. It was so boring that many students slept in his class.
Different methods and standards of assessment adopted depend on various teaching and learning aims. Being different to only exams as final assessments in Chinese undergraduates' education system, assessments of this transnational programme are mainly assessed by exams (50%), essays (44%) (See Table 4).
Table 5 (N=58)
Please tick the most two assessments used in this programme
The combination of these two kinds of assessments was welcome to participants. From Table 5, the majority of students (86%) considered it as a good combination with exams and helpfulness to them (100%), in terms of good relevance to what they have learnt.
Table 6 (N=58)
About assessment and feedback
The proportion of assessment is appropriate
The assessment is of good relevance to what I have been taught
As Student H said in the interview:
Most of my modules have both tests and essays. If I do not get high marks in tests, I could pay more attention to my essay. It is another opportunity to increase my score and more rational to test my leaning ability.
Comparing to the short-memory of exams, essays take longer period (usually 2-3 weeks per essay in this study) to finish. It focuses more on presenting students' critical thinking and study ability, which is a better method to exam student knowledge application capability.
Table 7 (N=58)
About assessment and feedback
Return of feedback on my assignment is quick
I have received useful feedback on my essay
Assessment on my work has helped me clarify things I did not understand
However, there were two big concerns participants pointed out. One was about the long return period of essay. In Table 6, 90% participants denied that the return of feedback was quick. Generally, it needed at least one month. Students reflected that they nearly forgot what they wrote and did not know why the mark was that. Evans & Tragenza (2003) also pointed out that one of the main complaining factors of transnational students was the late return of assessment, which impeded their references to the next coursework and tests.
More seriously, the other concern was that few written feedback of essays probably resulted in student confusion about what they did. In Table 6, the high percentage (70%) of students thought that the useful feedback was not applicable, and nearly 60% students were not sure whether the assessment clarified things they did not understand. Further, 10 out of 12 participants stated clearly that they did not have any written feedback of essays in 10 main courses during sophomore period. The complaint of Student A was a representative example:
In the fresh year, we had feedback of EAP writing. But in sophomore, we did not have any feedback of essays. The score on the essay could not tell us why it was incorrect and how to modify. (Student A)
The foregoing information revealed lacking feedback of essays impeded students' study greatly, because they did not know what they mastered was right or not. It is widely acknowledged that the role of feedback in the development of teaching and learning plays significantly (Hattie & Timperly, 2007). Effective written feedback provides teachers and students with an excellent opportunity of interaction. On the one hand, teachers adjust their pedagogies to meet student needs. On the other hand, students improve their weakness to gain learning goals. Therefore, utility feedback is a significant element in enhancing learning and teaching.
In the form of feedback, standardised written form is very significant and effective (Bailey & Garner, 2010). Many British institutions are making use of structured feedback forms, especially in undergraduate courses, to systemize and improve the quality of teaching and learning (Bailey & Garner, 2010). With regard to this study, offering standardised written might be the most effective way in establishing feedback system quickly.
It is clear that lacking feedback in this programme was a very serious problem and should not have happened. The effective feedback system, in this programme, is needed urgently. Feedback reveals how students' work has been judged, graded and provides feed-forward suggestion on how to improve it (Bailey & Garner, 2010). It should be formative, evaluative, and be 'timely'. An example of the structured feedback form is useful in this respect, which facilitates marking and commenting for teachers according to each part of requirement and thus enables the timely return of work (Bailey & Garner, 2010). More importantly, structured feedback forms motivate assessing students transparently and equally; formal articulating of criteria and learning outcomes for quality assurance (Hounsell, 2003).
From students' perspectives, students were overall satisfied with this programme, enhancing their generic skills, intellectual motivation and being beneficial to study abroad. In detail, the advantages of this programme are providing high value of foreign academic certificate, enhancing students' success in job seeking, reducing culture shock with appropriate period of transition, providing pure English teaching environment delivered by foreign academics, good connection to the curriculum in UK, offering suitable Chinese-style interactions with foreign academics and students in class, motivating students in several classes, increasing students' English proficiency, intercultural teaching adopted well by some lecturers with rich transnational teaching experience, and assessment combining well with exams and essays.
But there are also some weaknesses explored: lacking practical applications with local cases taught in this programme, not many foreign academics mastering intercultural teaching and motivating students in class, feeling pressure due to unaccustomed to the self-study without no guidance, and no feedback to assessment.