Higher Education

, Volume 70, Issue 4, pp 753–766 | Cite as

Re-examining the “Chinese learner”: a case study of mainland Chinese students’ learning experiences at British Universities



Although a great deal of literature contrasts the Chinese learner with Western learning conceptions and practice, a closer look at these studies reveals that many are explored through the lens of cultural knowledge and assumptions. The results of these studies generate a distorted understanding of Chinese students. Moreover, students’ learning is best explained in the context of local environments. This study therefore examines the “Chinese learner” through a case study of mainland Chinese postgraduate students’ intercultural learning experiences at British universities. The results show that learning beliefs and behaviors evolve as individuals participate in authentic situations. It is essential to break the stereotypes of Chinese students and constantly document the progress of their learning so as to generate effective intercultural pedagogy and practices in culturally diverse classrooms. Further, how Chinese students approach their learning is a complex phenomenon with multiple facets interacting including external factors, namely sociohistorical, cultural, and academic contexts, and internal factors, such as each student’s intellectual development. Academic staff in multicultural classrooms should recognize not just similarities but also diversity of students from the same culture and amend their teaching practices in response to students’ developing needs and interests.


Intercultural education Mainland Chinese students Intercultural pedagogy Learning approaches 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EducationUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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