New Opportunities or difficult challenges? Self-regulation of learning in Chinese students in a western university setting.
Thesis DisciplineDoctor of Philosophy
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
International students often desire to study overseas and many countries, including New Zealand, welcome them into their schools and universities. Students from Mainland China, one of the most populous countries in the world and, until quite recently closed to the rest of the world, have, in the past few years, made up the large majority of those who come to New Zealand to study. Those wishing to enter university after completing high school in China must acquire a specified level of English and successfully complete a two semester long Foundation Studies course, before being eligible for undergraduate study. Research into independent or self-regulated learning has shown that Western (mainly American) students are much more successful academically and enjoy their studies more if they are willing and able to self-regulate their learning. This research has occurred mostly in Western settings with Western participants. The present research using a mixed methods approach aimed to examine the self-regulated learning, epistemological beliefs, demographic factors and personality traits of Mainland Chinese students studying in the Foundation Studies course and to determine whether any of these factors appeared to have any appreciable effect on their experiences in the course and on their final outcomes. The research found that while no one specific factor seemed to determine experiences and outcomes, it would appear that personality characteristics of face, optimism and other Dependability scores may mediate factors such as ability (measured by grades), length of time in the country, self-regulated learning and motivational strategies (such as organisation, time management, effort regulation and self-efficacy), and previous independent learning to influence these experiences and outcomes. While it appears that the North American theory of self-regulated learning is applicable to these students, it seems that cultural beliefs may affect which self-regulatory factor is most salient in their academic outcomes. Further research would be valuable to clarify these differences.