Exploring The Complex And Non-Linear Evolution Of Chinese International Students’ Experiences In US Colleges

Stereotypes and Prejudices against Chinese International Students in Foreign Universities

Tang T. Heng in his article “Exploring the complex and non-linear evolution of Chinese international students’ experiences in US colleges” has mentioned that the Chinese students who enroll themselves in the foreign universities often faced discrimination. It is seen that these students are often subjected to stereotypical taboos of being unsocial and lacking communication skills. However, the author argues that the Chinese students taking enrolment in the international universities are not always judged correctly. More often, they have to face difficulties because of the stereotypes and the prejudices of the native students. In this regard, a qualitative research has been done amongst the eighteen Chinese international students to understand the difficulties they are facing in this context. Not only that, the author has also mentioned that in many cases these student have experiences that are fluid and helped them in having a rich trans-cultural osmosis with the host communities.

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The research points out several aspects in the matter of Chinese international students and the difficulty they are facing along with the fluent experiences. The primary findings of the research is that the Chinese students are willing to have communication with their surrounding environment. They have shown urge of taking participation in the activities inside and outside the classroom. On contrary to the popular notions, the students have pointed out their multi-dimensionality. Moreover, the study has also been helpful in the process of understanding the socio-cultural structure, that has been resulted due to the amalgamation of multiple cultures. In addition to this, the findings of the research also point out that the process of student development is non-linear and complex.

As it is witnessed that in higher studies, the US, UK, Canada and Australian universities are seeing upraise in the number of Chinese student being enrolled.  However, Heng has argued that the post-graduate students being more matured and focus face lesser problems in adjusting with the new environment and culture, rather than the undergraduate students. Many a times it has been observed that language plays an important role in the process of their understanding and communicating. As a result, they lack awareness regarding the classroom activities.

This article is noteworthy addition to the field into how the Chinese students in the US, UK and Canada are experiencing the complexity and fluidity as problems, and can be considered much related to those researching in the area. This critique demonstrate why this is the case.

Qualitative Research among Eighteen Chinese International Students

The study has been done based on the experiences of nine undergraduate students of first year and nine undergraduate students who are in second years. Finding that have been derived from the study make scopes of counter argue to the popular notion regarding the Chinese students being passive and uncommunicative. In opposition to these notions, the Chinese students have rich experiences and they have mostly proved to be multi-dimensional. Although the participants of the study have complained of having initial problems in communicating and understanding the language and culture, they overcame these issues by their second years in the universities. The finding of the study hence implies that the shyness on the part of these Chinese students can be found on the initial stages. Moreover, it can be said that these problems are very common and universal. They are not only relevant to Chinese students but also can occur to any student enrolling in a foreign university. In addition to this, the author has also pointed out the fact that the increasing numbers of Chinese as well as other foreign students in the US, UK universities are heightening the chances of achieving international experiences under a hybrid framework in the sociocultural context. Heng has investigated the impacts of these situations on the international students. The outcome of the interviews with nine first-year and nine second-year students in US colleges for a year, and he involved in them in semi-structural interviews and journal prompts. All participants were in these three rounds of interviews that have been taken at the beginning of an academic year, then in the middle of the year and at last at the end of the academic year. The interviews were implemented with their preferred language to improve their level of comfort and tolerate the embedded options.

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As argued by the author the primary motif of the research is to find out the overall and generic experiences of the Chinese students reading in the US universities. Moreover, the study also points out the experiences of the students that have helped the students in having rich learning experiences. The author has pointed out that by examining the international students through a framework that is hybrid and influences the inter-cultural communication is helpful in recognizing the influences that the socio-cultural aspects have on the overall academic development of the students. As an evaluation of the study is being done, multiple strengths as well as weaknesses can eventually be noticed. As the research has been done with first year as well as second year students coming from a different background altogether, the author has taken up a personal approach to deal with the students. This can be counted as a strength of the research as the students will be able to open up and communicate more freely (Mertens, 2014). In addition to this, to strengthen the process of interview, the author has used the method of interviewing the students after regular intervals. Three different rounds of interview sessions have been conducted for the better understanding of their development. This approach has strengthen the process of reaching to the findings largely. To support and strengthen the process more, the author has interviewed the participants in their preferred language. This has helped them largely in conveying their thoughts and feelings regarding the subject. They were able to open up freely (Seidman, 2013). Moreover, the author has used the multiple methods of obtaining data. While interviewing the participants the author has used natural setting, so that the participants feel comfortable and can open up easily.

Fluent Experiences and Multi-Dimensionality of Chinese Students

In this context, it is also understandable that the research also has some limitations. The author has  considered the responses of a very small number of respondents (Marshall et al., 2013). The sample for the study amounted to eighteen individuals. Thus, the findings of the article might not be applicable to the generalize cases. Another issue regarding the research and interviewing method is that the author had considered the responses over a very short duration of time (Silverman, 2013). In order to understand the process of development and building communication, a detailed study is necessary. The students that have been questioned in their first years reported of difficulties that they are facing in communicating and understanding. Moreover, they have reported of initial shyness on their parts. Interviewing them in their second years would have been more helpful in the process of understanding their development. In addition to this, this might have helped in the better understanding of the patterns of the revelation of the complexity and the fluidity of the innumerable experiences of the several international students of China. Moreover, the study took into consideration majorly the students who have been studying at the private colleges. This can be taken as a disadvantage of the research. Involving students from both public and private institution would have been helpful in understanding the discrimination or the fluency of experiences in different environments (Seidman, 2013). The study that was conducted needed to involve the participation of the Chinese students who had been following the private and the public educational institutions. A qualitative research can be referred as being flawless, if it incorporates holistic approach while concluding. In this regard, it can be said that the author might fail in developing a complex picture of the issue and use multiple perspectives of identifying the various factors affecting the situation. The reason behind this possible failure is the selection of a small sample size.

Heng has also attempted a study on the passive nature of the problems in the matters that pertain to the revelation of the complexity and the fluidity of the innumerable experiences of the several international students of China. The study attempts to discuss the matters that are related to the dynamic developments on these matters that are related to the perceptions of the concerned Chinese international students. The views that were put forth by the various participants during the interviews might have helped the author to develop better insights on the research topic. In addition to this, it can be said that the author has used a technique of fluid and structure writing. The clear and concise manner of writing helps the readers to understand the key findings of the research. Moreover, all the arguments that have been presented by the author have been well supported by the primary and secondary evidences. The article would have been more beneficial to the future researchers if it had incorporated a larger number of respondents and had been conducted over a larger period. However, the limitations of the study cannot be ignored while analyzing and evaluating the process. The primary limitation of the study is that it has taken a very small sample size in order to reach to the findings. It can easily be understood that small sample size can cause bias on the results as well as the key findings. However, this can be solved by using larger sample size. Another problem regarding the interview process is that it has questioned the students for a shorter span of time. Besides, the author has majorly interviewed the students reading in the private institutions. This can create problems of the responses being biased. Hence, the problem can be solved by using a larger and mixed sample size.


In conclusion, it can be said that the study have investigated one of the major issues that have been troubling the various universities and other educational institutions in the UK, USA and Canada. Moreover, the findings of the research point out the importance institutional support to these students so that they are able to cope up with the new environment and culture. The author has done a semantic study in order to understand the language barriers that the Chinese student are facing. Hence, the study has been a successful one in providing a detailed insight in the present scenario of the universities where Chinese international students are enrolling to have higher educations.


Marshall, B., Cardon, P., Poddar, A., & Fontenot, R. (2013). Does sample size matter in qualitative research?: A review of qualitative interviews in IS research. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 54(1), 11-22.

Mertens, D. M. (2014). Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Sage publications.

Seidman, I. (2013). Interviewing as qualitative research: A guide for researchers in education and the social sciences. Teachers college press.

Silverman, D. (2013). Doing qualitative research: A practical handbook. SAGE Publications Limited.