Exercise 11.2 “Gauging significance” (pg. 242)
In looking at what draws Chinese students to come study abroad at U.S. universities, such as Portland State University and the University of Oregon, my hope would be to build a theoretical understanding, from a cultural point of view, of why they decide to enroll in U.S. universities.
Perhaps researching this phenomenon more deeply will expand upon existing theories (if they do indeed exist) of the students’ motivations, advancing conceptual development. Perhaps conclusions put forth by previous research, for example, that U.S. schools are preferred simply due to the cache, or status they bring is only a small factor. Maybe it genuinely is due to a higher level of scholarship and instruction, or other factors such as cost/value. New revelations revealed by the research would build on possible existing research conclusions.
From a methodological perspective, new ways of obtaining the data could be found compared to previous studies. Perhaps deeper studies in China of universities there from both a quantitative and qualitative perspective; obtaining a data set about admissions, cost and public perception of Chinese universities might provide a context that previous studies have not. The methodology from previous studies may have, from an American point of view, only focused on interviews and focus groups, while ignoring perceptions based on the Chinese cultural point of view.
This study could provide a framework to effectively study other international foreign student groups in the future, such as the large number of students coming to study from the Middle East. While the reasons different groups may come to American universities may differ, a framework could be created that inspires and allows university researchers to more effectively discover the motivations of foreign students. It could also allow universities to better accommodate students from outside of the U.S. when they do come.
Practically, revelations from this research could help stakeholders, specifically, universities, create improved communication strategies that they could use to attract students from China to enroll. They could also use knowledge from the research to provide classes and a curriculum that are more geared towards the needs and desires of this growing group of students. Professors would be more aware of the cultural background of Chinese students, and if relevant, apply that knowledge in the creation and instruction of classes.
With the improved knowledge that this research could bring about, Chinese students might find U.S. institutions that are not only better able to accommodate them generally, but are better able to help them succeed in their studies.