This document was prepared by Marina Wang, a student in the Art Education program (ARE) at the AAU, with the intent of helping instructors work more effectively with Chinese students. She writes:
My personal experience as a Chinese student in the USA during the last year and a half allowed me to repeatedly observe some of the difficulties we are exposed to in this new environment:
Characteristics Exhibited by Most Chinese Students*
- Confucianism – humble, respect for what the teacher says
- Follow teachers’ instruction
- Lack of critical thinking skills
- Hard work
Strategies for Teachers
- Developing multicultural curricula
Teachers and students both should make the necessary efforts to open their minds, thinking “out of the box” by understanding the basic concept driving “cultural diversity,” taking to heart the idea that culture is not good or bad, and that every culture has its own value and treasure. Teachers should develop multicultural curricula, introducing not only American and Western Art, but also Mayan, Incan, African and Asian Art. Hence students will take notice of great artworks produced by different cultures and nationalities.
- Helping students to build their self-esteem
For student having diverse cultural backgrounds, a most important factor is to understand, recognize and appreciate the values of their own culture, hence feeling proud about it. Teachers may develop activities leading to embrace international students’ cultural differences, and in the process helping to enhance their own---for example, allow students to explain and share their experiences in the country of origin. What kind and methods of art education they experience? How did Chinese art teachers emphasize how to draw, relating that skill with the art of contemplation and imagination?
- Creating a mutual learning and fair environment
Teacher may encourage students to learn from and helping each other; teachers should recognize themselves that they also could learn from the students. Teachers should not exhibit biases affecting anyone. As I learned, some teachers did not like having international students attending their classes; some teachers did not believe that international students could do as well or even better than national students, hence creating in their classes an “invisible fence” resulting in unproductive and de-motivating boundaries between national and international students.
- Encouraging group collaboration
Teacher may create projects aiming at American and international students working together, cooperating with each other. Particularly giving Chinese students the opportunity to further observe, understand different aspects of the American culture.
- Providing more scaffolding
Teacher may provide diagrams, visual materials, videos and demonstrations. Even if the students could not fully understand the teacher’s presentation, they could learn by watching the demonstration, pictures or videos; this strategy is not only beneficial to international students but to native speakers as well. As I understood, most Chinese students face the difficulty of critique in their classes. Teachers may create “critique worksheets” for their classes, then distribute them to students in advance; hence students could prepare the content by following the questions contained on the worksheet before the critique.
- Being consistent
During classes, American teachers are used to praise students and to encourage them. In the case of Chinese students the effect of teacher’s words is significant, since they take teachers’ expressions of approval very seriously and as a “permanent” mark of good student; but at the end, when the final grades do not reflect the “goodness” of previous praises, they may be disappointed and believe teachers’ comments were deceptive, thus creating a “lack of credibility” affecting the relationship between teachers and students. I suggest that teachers should not over-praise students; instead it will be much more valuable for the student if the teacher suggest the ways to make progress and enhance their learning.