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The academic and personal experiences of Mainland Chinese students enrolled in a Canadian Master of Education Program

Jane P. Preston (University of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Canada)
Anhui Wang (Sichuan Normal University, Chengdu, China)

International Journal of Comparative Education and Development

ISSN: 2396-7404

Article publication date: 13 November 2017




The purpose of this paper is to communicate the positive and challenging aspects of a Master of Education program, as perceived by Chinese students at an Atlantic Canadian university.


Assuming a qualitative methodology, 21 Mainland Chinese students participated in individual, paired, and focus group semi-structured interviews. Interviews were member checked. Data were analyzed through content analysis. The findings are discussed using Deardorff’s (2006, 2009) concept of intercultural competence.


Students perceived the best features of their educational experience to be personable instructors, their enhanced English skills, and practical course-based experiences embedded in the program. The main challenges were social isolation, English language requirements and related assignments, and theoretical expectations of the program.

Research limitations/implications

This study contains a somewhat small qualitative small sample size (i.e. 21 participants), therein, disabling any generalization of results. In other words, the data findings are unique and non-generalizable beyond the particular research case. However, transferability, which refers to the extent in which the results of an original study can be applied to similar people, contexts, or settings (Lincoln and Guba, 1985), may be applied to the findings if the reader deems the context of this study in alignment with his/her situation.

Practical implications

Approximately, 82 percent of Canadian universities rate internationalization as a top priority, supporting the need for research in this area. An implication of the study is that internationalization of higher education must be more than just the recruitment of international students. Universities have direct and fiduciaries responsibilities to support the academic needs, personal needs of their international students, as well as the intercultural competence of all students, instructors and staff.


There is a plethora of research documenting experiences of international students, in general, but such research is not directly transferrable to the Chinese student. The issues and problems encountered by Chinese international students are unique and should be addressed independently from international students. Moreover, a lot of the research that focuses on Chinese students enrolled in North American universities, predominantly, is conducted within the USA, and such research tends to spotlight the challenges only. In turn, the authors’ research addresses a specialized focus of the international Chinese student in Canada.



Preston, J.P. and Wang, A. (2017), "The academic and personal experiences of Mainland Chinese students enrolled in a Canadian Master of Education Program", International Journal of Comparative Education and Development, Vol. 19 No. 4, pp. 177-192.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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