Paradigm shift from student to researcher: An academic preparation program for international students

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Academic Language and Learning, 2009, 3 (2), pp. A61 - A69
Issue Date:
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Although there are many Academic Preparation Programs designed for international postgraduate students, the importance of establishing “the role of the researcher” is rarely the focus of these programs. This role is a fundamental “threshold concept” (Meyer & Land, 2006) for postgraduate success which has the potential to be transformational at both Masters and PhD levels. This paper reports on an intensive academic preparation program (IAPP) for international postgraduate students commencing study at UNSW in 2009. This pilot program consisted of 40 hours facilitation prior to commencement of Semester 1, 2009. The program aimed to explore the “role of the researcher” by engaging in academic literacies fundamental to postgraduate expectations and empowering each student by acknowledging they were budding specialists in their disciplinary field. The design of the program encouraged personal responsibility for research and learning. This gave learners confidence to explore their reflective and critical learning process and to fine tune their research interests. Learning activities were designed to foster and record reflective practice. The use of a learning journal, group discussions and debriefings were central to the program and increased learners’ confidence as researchers. Student feedback of this pilot program was very positive and demonstrated its transformational nature. Based on this experience, we suggest that developing the “role of the researcher” offers another direction to consider when designing international preparation programs.
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