Staying the Course: The importance of social and structural networks for NESB students achieving positive outcomes at a regional campus

  • Laura Fildes
  • Clare Cunnington
  • Marita Quaglio
Keywords: NESB students, learning, barriers to participation, support strategies, teacher practice

Abstract

This paper is set within the context of an Australian regional university. The study investigates the experiences of students with non-English-speaking backgrounds (NESB), focusing on problems encountered at university. There remains an assumption among some academic and support staff that NESB students have one main problem that sets them apart from native speakers: their standard of English. There is a general lack of understanding of the effects of culture, separation from family and feelings of isolation on the physical and emotional adjustment of this cohort and on their success at university (Bartlett & Chanock, 2003). This study identifies challenges experienced by students: linguistic, financial, cultural, academic, social and technological. There is a perception that NESB students are a homogeneous group. However, in our sample there were significant differences within the NESB respondents as recognised by Wang and Le (2006). The data highlight potential strategies for overcoming the barriers students face. Major’s (2005) concept of three dimensions of adjustment assists in identifying appropriate times for intervention with both social and structural support to enhance student success. The findings and recommendations point to the conclusion that social and structural scaffolding for NESB students should be embedded in curricula where appropriate and systematically included in university processes starting before the university experience, continuing through it, and extending from it.

Author Biographies

Laura Fildes
Associate Lecturer Centre for Regional Education La Trobe University
Clare Cunnington
ESL Tutor/International Student Coordinator Albury Wodonga Campus La Trobe University
Marita Quaglio
Disability Liaison/Equity Officer Equality and Diversity Centre Albury-Wodonga Campus La Trobe University
Published
2010-11-12
How to Cite
Fildes, L., Cunnington, C., & Quaglio, M. (2010). Staying the Course: The importance of social and structural networks for NESB students achieving positive outcomes at a regional campus. Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 4(1), A24-A40. Retrieved from https://journal.aall.org.au/index.php/jall/article/view/100
Section
Research Articles