Trine Villumsen Berling, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen

International students in the Department of Political Science: Teaching and Learning experiences and hopes for the future

The student body known as the ‘international students’ at the Department of Political Science has not received any systematic scrutiny as a distinct body of students with specific experiences and wishes when it comes to teaching and learning. This short report tries to shed light on this understudied group of students in order to gain knowledge about how the ‘international student’ should be received and taught at the University of Copenhagen, Department of Political Science. The report ends with a set of conclusions and recommendations for future teaching of international students.

Based on a survey amongst the International Students enrolled in the Deparment of Political Science in the academic year 2012-2013, the report asks three main questions: What are the students’ main reasons for studying (Political Science in Copenhagen?); What are their teaching and learning experiences ?; How do they value the learning potential of activities that involve students actively?

The project concludes that the international students like inclusionary formats, but that the practice in class does not always live up to these ideals. Interestingly, the students seem forced to prefer lectures where the primary activity is that the teacher talks because of external variables such as class size and ability to hear properly what people are saying.

A focus on learning between classes seems an ideal place to put emphasis in light of the fact that class sizes are not likely to diminish in the future at the University of Copenhagen. Organizing learning activities that encourage the students to work in smaller groups or to work on problem solving exercises between classes could help the learning outcome in a positive direction. And it would accommodate the wishes of the students as well as support the teachers in achieving a higher level of understanding amongst the students.

Full version of the THLE Project (pdf)