Cross-cultural comparison in studying approaches of Australian and Chinese University students

Swee Noi Smith

Deakin University, Australia

This paper reports research into the differences between the studying approaches of Australian and Chinese university students. Participants in the study were 202 first year Australian students and 248 first year overseas Chinese students drawn from two Australian universities. Students were tested using Ramsden and Entwistle's (1983) Approaches to Studying Inventory (ASI). Factor analysis showed a four factor structure in studying approaches (consisting of factors: Meaning Orientation, Non-Academic Orientation, Anxious-Rigid Orientation and Goal Orientation) for Australian students. A different four-factor structure (consisting of factors: Anxious-Surface Orientation, Self-Motivated Reflective Orientation, Efficiency Orientation, and Comprehension Orientation) was obtained for Chinese students. Analyses of variance showed significant differences between the two groups on a number of the ASI subscales. Results are discussed in a context of the stereotypes commonly held by Western academics and the apparent paradox between a perception of Asian students as rote learners and the high academic excellence achieved by some Asian students. Significant differences between the specific study strategies of the two groups are also discussed in relation to effective design of curriculum and course delivery.

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