Listening to Voices: Understanding Chinese Students' Journey at a Canadian University
This research explored the motivations of Chinese students to study in Canada and analyzed their cultural adaptation process at a Canadian university. This served the Canadian educational administrators and prospective Chinese students who were interested in studying in Canada. The following three research questions provided the direction for this study: 1 What are Chinese students’ motivations to study in Canada? 2 What are Chinese students’ experiences at Canadian universities and how do their motivations shape their journey in Canada? 3 What challenges and opportunities do Chinese students face in their cultural adaptation, and what strategies do Chinese students think can be applied by Canadian educational administrators to assist Chinese students? A qualitative approach was the research method utilized in this study. Using semi-structured life-story interviews, data were collected from a purposeful sample of four Chinese graduate students studying at a Canadian university. Utilizing a narrative research method, from an emic perspective, I listened to Chinese students’ voices and their life stories and to explore deeply their experiences in Canada. Three theoretical frameworks were employed to analyze the data. The synthesis model was used to explore the decision making process of participants to come to Canada; the push-pull model was employed to identify the factors attracting people to move to another country; and Self- Determined Theory was used to analyze the connection between participants’ motivations to study abroad and their subsequent cultural adaptation. Data collected from semi-structured interviews with four participants indicated that Chinese students were easily attracted to study in Canada by its favorable and tolerant environment, positive reputation for diversity, high quality post-secondary institutions and the possibility of securing a visa relatively easily. In their decision making process, Chinese students were influenced by some important factors: student characteristics, parental factors, and other external important factors. Among those factors influencing Chinese students’ decisions to move to Canada, family was recognized a very important factor and participants’ narratives suggested that having family connections in Canada could be a helpful factor for Chinese students to adapt to a new culture, which was reported as a best case scenario in this research. However, family also acted as a barrier for Chinese students to acquire English proficiency and interact with local people. Findings from this study supported earlier research that suggested students who were more self-determined to study abroad were more likely to succeed academically and had fewer traumas in navigating cross-cultural adaptations.
DegreeMaster of Education (M.Ed.)
CommitteeCottrell, Michael; Prytula, Michelle; Carr-Stewart, Sheila; Burgess, David; Lemisko, Lynn
Copyright DateMarch 2012
Keywords: Chinese students, Canadian university, narrative research, motivations, cultural adaptation