International postgraduate students’ experiences of independent learning within a UK higher education

PARKIN, Jacqueline (2021). International postgraduate students’ experiences of independent learning within a UK higher education. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This qualitative study employed an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis approach to explore nine international postgraduate students’ experiences of independent learning. Participants were studying at either Masters or PhD level, across a range of courses at one higher education institution. Lifeworld interviews were used to explore the lived, everyday world of the participants (Brinkman & Kvale, 2015). The participants described a wide range of experiences that impacted on their engagement with independent learning as they adjusted to a new country, unfamiliar language and teaching and learning approaches. This resulted in feelings of isolation, frustration, feeling lesser and othered. Findings indicated that engaging with independent learning demands adjustment and can feel emotional and overwhelming if not introduced with care and guidance. However, a small amount of change in practice between previous and current study forms appear to lead to fewer emotional issues. Independent learning can be experienced as unbounded and hard to grasp and has been likened to a journey. Feedback and guidance from tutors support students in arriving at their destination quicker, avoiding hazards along the way. Independent learning is also more manageable when working in proximity to student peers. Finally, there was an appreciation of liberation through independent learning, with participants recounting successes and achieving agency. Utilising Bronfenbrenner’s (2005) PPCT model the research demonstrates that higher education institutions cannot begin to understand how international students experience independent learning without first coming to know how relationships and interactions within contexts affects that experience. It was evident that there was a mismatch between educators’ understandings of independent learning and international students’ experiences of engaging with it.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Madriaga, Manuel [0000-0003-2725-1718]
Thesis advisor - Hodge, Nick [0000-0001-5706-1865]
Additional Information: Director of studies : Dr. Manny Madriaga / Supervisors: Prof. Nick Hodge
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2022 15:38
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2023 12:32

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