Supervising International Students Requires Cultural Sensitivity

International students are major participants in the life sciences. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (Almanac, "Characteristics of Recipients of Doctorates," Aug. 28, 1991, page 27; Sept. 2, 1996, page 20), among all the recipients of doctoral degrees in the life sciences, the proportion of non-United States citizens increased steadily from 22.1 percent in 1989 to 35.2 percent in 1995. These students, with their rigorous research training and strong knowledge base, offer rich reso

Yu Ren Dong
Sep 28, 1997

International students are major participants in the life sciences. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education (Almanac, "Characteristics of Recipients of Doctorates," Aug. 28, 1991, page 27; Sept. 2, 1996, page 20), among all the recipients of doctoral degrees in the life sciences, the proportion of non-United States citizens increased steadily from 22.1 percent in 1989 to 35.2 percent in 1995. These students, with their rigorous research training and strong knowledge base, offer rich resources and present new challenges to our institutions. One of these challenges is supervising nonnative students' dissertation writing.

Although more than one-third of the graduate students in the life sciences are nonnative students, little attention is given to their cultural and language needs. Out of 137 graduate students in science whom I surveyed in 1994 (Y.R. Dong, doctoral dissertation, University of Georgia, 1995), approximately 70 percent of the nonnative students felt the need for improved supervision...

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