HOW ASSESSMENT PRACTICES INFLUENCE THE ACADEMIC ACCULTURATION PROCESS OF INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE STUDENTS
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Previous research studies have demonstrated that international graduate students experience various challenges adapting to academic situations within a new university community. This thesis reports on an interview study with six international graduate students who use English as a second language studying Master’s degree at one Canadian university. This study addresses the academic assessment and evaluation experience of international graduate students in the following four aspects: (1) their enjoyable and challenging assessment practices; (2) understanding of assessment expectations; (3) reflections on previous educational experience; and (4) psychological and physical factors in relation to assessment and evaluation. The findings indicate that these students’ experiences of assessment and evaluation procedures are varied and the academic acculturation process towards assessment depends on different yet interrelated factors: English language competence, cultural and educational awareness, and assessment literacy. All six research participants adapted to the host academic assessment practices and procedures fairly well despite the fact that they were not familiar with the expectations and requirements regarding assessment and evaluation at the beginning of their studies. These students learned about the host academic culture regarding assessment and evaluation through their own examination failure, instructors’ feedback, and peers’ observation. The findings also indicate that international graduate students need more coordinated support from university supportive services and easier access to information about assessment and evaluation expectations and requirements. Implications of the findings for effective learning and positive academic experience for L2 international graduate students, faculty and supportive staff, and for future research are discussed. It is suggested to organize workshops and seminars devoted to assessment literacy for international and domestic graduate students, instructors and supporting staff in order to enhance learning experience and outcomes.