Chinese students' perceptions of cooperative learning in Finland
International students from China continue to have a strong presence in European tertiary institutions, however, only a limited number of studies can be found about their learning experiences and their perceptions towards western educational practices. How Chinese students in Finland perceive cooperative learning is the focus of this study, while different education cultures between China and Finland is identified as the dominant element that may determine students’ beliefs and their choices of coping strategies when confronting challenges during cooperative learning practice. Qualitative data from 10 participants were collected through interviews conducted in Chinese. Based on participants’ responses, relevant themes were categorized in order to better answer the research questions. Findings demonstrated obvious differences between Chinese and Finnish education cultures in regard with teacher-student relationship, teaching model, classroom interaction, and emphasis on examinations. In general, nearly all students held positive beliefs towards the learning practices in Finland, in which students are given more freedom and respect. All 10 participants regarded cooperative learning as beneficial and invaluable in enlightening and expanding their minds, promoting motivation in learning, deepening their understanding, and promoting socialization despite several weaknesses including misunderstandings caused by cultural differences, low efficiency and time conflicts. When faced with conflicts or disagreements, they tended to be non-confrontational and compromised whereas for the academic or language barriers, almost all participants tried to be active and sought for help directly. ...
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