Best Practices for Working with International Students

by Anil Waghe, Associate Professor, Atmospheric Science and Chemistry Department

Many students and even some faculty and staff members at Plymouth State University do not find the time or opportunity to visit foreign countries. International students bring this opportunity to our door with their diverse views and vibrant culture.  A diverse and inclusive image of Plymouth State University will only be upheld by our contributions and dedication.

International students leave their friends, family, and loved ones behind to come here for excellent educational and social experiences. Our best advocates and recruiters are all of our students who get a positive impression of us.

There are some barriers that keep a free flow of ideas from international students. Language and cultures usually keep them from mixing with other students in the class. Giving group assignments to students with diverse backgrounds is one way to break this barrier. This will help our domestic and international students learn to respect and appreciate each other’s culture and point of views. They may not necessarily agree with each other’s ideas, but they understand each other more this way. This will benefit all students.

Many international students are used to working on problems in a different way that sometimes makes it hard for them to answer, even if they know the answers. One of the ways to tackle this issue is by rephrasing the questions or asking students to re-word the problem.

Understanding problems of international students is not a difficult or laborious job. In fact, there are many services available right here at PSU that can help our international students to thrive. PSU’s Center for Global Engagement offers an excellent service for international students to take exams in their office. Professional and helpful staff can proctor exams and rephrase questions if students need help in that regard. Of course, students and faculty members must work out an arrangement with the Center for Global Engagement to do this before exam time.

As a part of being global inclusive community, you may do the following things

  • Revisit examples in your lectures and make them more globally oriented.
  • Rephrase important concepts and repeat it if you see puzzled faces. Missing a single word or phrase, or using American idioms often makes it hard for a non-native speaker to understand the idea.
  • Post PowerPoint presentations on Moodle so students can take notes on printed slides. This is also useful for slow-note-taking domestic and international students.
  • Talk to experts or friends to get ideas and suggestions. The Center for Global Engagement has splendid resources.
  • Communicate regularly with international students, as some of them may be shy.

Anil Waghe was born in Mumbai, the largest city and financial capital of India. He studied at University of Mumbai and Indian Institute of Technology for his BSc and MSc degrees. Professor Waghe earned his PhD from University of Maine and did postdoctoral work at the University of Oklahoma before coming to Plymouth State University.