Chinese Student Experiences at New York University

Posted: November 7th, 2023

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November 7, 2023

Chinese Student Experiences at New York University

The enrollment of international students in American higher learning institutions has grown over the last few years. Universities are accepting more international students to keep their budgets up at a time when the coronavirus has impacted domestic funding. New York University (NYU) is the third most famous higher learning campus among international students in the United States. The campus maintains close ties to China, accounting for 25% of foreign learners in the institution. The university has over 2200 Chinese students, a number facilitated by NYU’s close link to its Shanghai campus. However, two student interviews indicate mastery of curriculum design, class engagement and student-professor relations that underline China’s preference for NYU. NYU should anticipate a further influx of Chinese students with its clear understanding of student-centred education.

NYU curriculum design shows a deep commitment to inclusion. One of the key insights from the student interviews was NYU’s adoption of flexible policies to allow learners to succeed. According to one of the interviewees, NYU’s teaching and assessment practices include interesting ways of focusing on content. The belief is that NYU’s curriculum provides content conveying diverse perspectives, including those of communities often marginalized. The approach makes international students feel more included in classroom design. Another key insight on the curriculum is its use of assessments that improve learner performance instead of validating their content mastery. Curriculum evaluations entail opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning in several ways.

There exists a slight gap concerning class engagement at NYU. The two interviewees agree that NYU has interesting and engaging classes. All courses have predetermined requirements for attending class, submitting assignments, participating in online discussions and initiating contact with the instructor. The gap exists in class discussions. According to one of the participants, she tends not to ask questions during conversations due to her limited English proficiency. Instead, she prefers engaging in out of classroom discussions with fellow Chinese students. The gap not only highlights a problem in lesson designs but also in the initial orientation program. The Office of Student Engagement (OSE) should inspire and enable learners to broaden their perspectives by changing their perception of classroom discussions. Language proficiency should not impede constructive classroom engagement.

NYU has been innovative in its facilitation of student-professor interactions. The interviews indicate a frequent reminder of the importance of peer and educator interactions in reinforcing professional development. NYU has put significant effort into keeping students on track with their degrees following the coronavirus pandemic. One of the approaches used is digital teaching, which entails a high level of student and educator collaboration and coordination. The students feel that the level of educator and administrative support at NYU has increased since the coronavirus pandemic. Interesting is how the institution focuses on informal faculty and student engagement. An example identified in the interview is the use of online professor-led small group discussions. Educator interactions help students create deeper emotional attachments, resulting in the development of a sense of belonging.

It is more likely that NYU will record an increased influx of Chinese students in the near future. China’s economy and top-flight universities are becoming dependent on each other for sustained growth. Despite NYU being a pioneer in curriculum design and faculty interactions, it still has to address its approach to classroom engagement. The campus can consider introducing back channels for informal classroom communication. Critics might argue that backchannels might distract students from learning, but the informal discussions are observable even to the educator. Chats permit instructors and foreign students to find subtle ways to contribute to discussions. Overall, NYU remains a good learning destination for Chinese students.

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