Supporting International Students in the Classroom

Like many other colleges and universities in the United States, Brandeis in recent years has experienced a dramatic growth in its international undergraduate student population.

At the graduate level, some master's and PhD programs are composed almost exclusively of international students, while others include both domestic and international students.

Within the field of international education, the emphasis has shifted from simply providing support for international students in their academic and cocurricular pursuits to supporting both domestic students and international students as they interact academically in college. Previous research has shown that the classroom is one of the most effective places to integrate domestic and international students. Perhaps this is because students are obliged to interact in class — however minimally — with a wide range of other students that they may not choose to spend out-of-class time with, with the convenient common ground that the class that they are taking together provides.

Other research has shown that approximately 40% of international students do not have close friends who are American in spite of wishing to have more interactions with domestic students. International students who do have friendships with domestic students are more likely to participate in the classroom, and to a greater extent in extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom.

The following summarizes ideas from the Committee for the Support of Teaching workshops about best practices Brandeis faculty use to support the academic success of international students. While these methods were designed specifically for international students, many of the techniques are also useful for other student populations including first-generation college students. Still other practices represent good teaching for all students regardless of their background.