An auto/ethnography of overseas students’ identity movements

Hsieh, Jasper Kun-Ting (2016) An auto/ethnography of overseas students’ identity movements. PhD thesis, The University of New South Wales.

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Chinese-speaking students are the biggest cohort of international students in Australian higher education. In this research field, a strong emphasis is placed on ‘orienting’ and supporting students to effectively navigate and benefit within the formal education system. A limitation of this emphasis is its focus on identifying and solving ‘problems’, such as the mismatch of curriculum and pedagogical practices. This project is different from other work in this space as it seeks to better understand the subjective experiences of students. It focuses on identity-work undertaken, and the internalisation, use, and performance of international-education experiences. Adopting a post-structural perspective, I explore tensions and instabilities of nine Taiwanese Masters students as they rework their sense of self in response to experiences and encounters, both in and out of higher education settings. As an English language teacher and fellow Taiwanese, my interest in this project is more than professional: there is a personal dimension that has made a substantial contribution to the study. Autoethnographic reflexivity is extensively drawn on in support of, and with a view to extending, a Bourdieuian framework that presents nuanced insights into the students’ identity movements. The study worked with the students before, during and after one-year postgraduate coursework programmes. Data came from interviews, field notes and my diary across this period. An important outcome of the study came as a result of reflecting on my own experiences, and then observing the participants as they responded to a range of feelings. I came to appreciate that, as I had done myself, they negotiated dilemmas when confronted by mismatches between expectations and realities. This study draws attention to internal instabilities as participants strategically reworked their identities in response to the external, ‘foreign’ environment in Australia. The thesis offers depth and complexity in terms of the identity work that may be undertaken across time and space, in and out of the classroom, and often resulting from unexpected everyday encounters.

Item ID: 63221
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: international students; identity movements; Australian higher education
Copyright Information: Unless otherwise stated, materials deposited in UNSWorks are protected by the Copyright Act 1968 and are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives Licence (CC BY-NC-ND).
Date Deposited: 29 Jun 2020 10:54
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130202 Curriculum and Pedagogy Theory and Development @ 50%
13 EDUCATION > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130204 English and Literacy Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl LOTE, ESL and TESOL) @ 50%
SEO Codes: 93 EDUCATION AND TRAINING > 9301 Learner and Learning > 930102 Learner and Learning Processes @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education @ 50%
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