Describing the past learning experiences of international students from India

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University of New Brunswick


Each academic year the number of international students enrolled at a college in Southern Ontario increases with the majority originating from India. Academic challenges experienced by international students travelling abroad to study at post-secondary institutions are well known. The prevalence of academic challenges may be attributed to factors such as the influence of prior learning strategies and cultural differences towards learning between the host institution and country of origin. As a possible pathway towards achieving the ultimate goal of permanent resident status in Canada, academic failure due to unidentified and unaddressed challenges may result in serious socio-cultural difficulties for students who come from collectivist societies. Currently, there is a lack of published peer-reviewed literature that qualitatively describes past learning experiences of international students from India enrolled in a Canadian college program from the students’ perspective. To address this gap through this project, a descriptive phenomenological approach was used to understand the past learning experiences of first semester international students from India, enrolled in a 2-year college program. Results from the demographic survey and descriptions provided by the participants show that key principles of adult learning may be used to help develop a deeper understanding about past learning experiences. This knowledge is important because it may help students and faculty aggregate different learning experiences by applying principles of adult learning, to pre-emptively mitigate predictable challenges and increase opportunities for academic success. Key words: phenomenology, adult learning, international student, India, prior learning, higher education, learning challenges