Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/61606
Type: Conference paper
Title: Cultural values of Chinese tertiary students and the implications for first-year engagement
Author: Smith, S.
Rao Hill, S.
Citation: The Education Research Group of Adelaide (ERGA) conference 2010: The Changing Face of Education, 24-25 September, 2010
Publisher: University of Adelaide
Publisher Place: Adelaide
Issue Date: 2010
Conference Name: ERGA Conference (5th : 2010 : Adelaide, Australia)
Department: Centre for Learning and Professional Development
Statement of
Responsibility: 
Simon Smith and Sally Rao Hill
Abstract: The theme of this year’s ERGA conference is titled ‘The Changing Face of Education’. A notable manifestation of the ‘changing face’ metaphor during the past decade is the students themselves, in particular the visible influx of international students among the university student population, consisting predominately of Chinese students (46% of all international students within the University of Adelaide in 2009 are from mainland China). This study uses the rigorously tested and globally applicable Schwartz Values Survey to identify the cultural values of Chinese tertiary education students and applies these findings in a discussion of the implications for first-year student engagement for this subgroup. The Australasian Survey of Student Engagement in 2008 found that within the international student cohort first year students are likely to feel less engaged than later year students. Additionally, international students who are first in their families to attend university have greater troubles with engagement than others. This is especially applicable to a large number of Chinese students due to recent rapid socio-economic changes in China. Responding to the needs, aspirations and motivations of a demographic subgroup is a powerful platform for achieving student engagement. Values have been described as core culture defining elements; they have also been shown to relate to personality types and emotional states. As such, values are a key motivational construct that reveals a comprehensive picture of the nature of people within a culture. Identifying the values of Chinese tertiary students provides a strong platform from which to develop first-year engagement strategies for this group. The results of the values survey revealed strong collectiveness and conservation needs and a marked rejection of self-enhancement. The results were compared with previous data over a 19-year period and it was found that the values held by Chinese tertiary students had not changed despite rapid socio-economic change within China during the same time frame. A collective nature indicates that the establishment and maintenance of in-group relations is a high priority motivator for this group, and that other task-specific processes and outcomes are regarded as subordinate to relationship needs. Conservation needs are related to placing a higher importance upon security and conformity rather than upon change and openness. A rejection of self-enhancement indicates that recognition for individual achievement outside of the group context is likely to have a de-motivating effect for Chinese tertiary students. The main implications for first-year Chinese student engagement are as follows: Engagement activities that facilitate ingroup relations and that recognise and reward the combined efforts of groups are likely to be more effective than those that focus upon the individual. Engagement activities that provide consistency, clear expectations and role clarity are more likely to achieve responsiveness rather than those that emphasise change or surprise. Engagement activities that promote self-enhancing potentials are likely to be met with resistance, whereas engagement activities that promote transformation beyond self interests are likely to be supported.
Rights: Copyright © 2010 The University of Adelaide
RMID: 0020103507
Description (link): http://www.adelaide.edu.au/erga/
Appears in Collections:Centre for Learning and Professional Development publications

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