In order to make the units as evidenced based as possible the development of the Live and Learn in Ireland series had three distinct though interrelated elements.
The first step was a literature review that sought to look at the various issues faced by international students when coming to a new country; in this case the project team primarily looked at the experiences of international students coming to English speaking countries. The issues highlighted in the review were used to help inform the design of the next two stages, the semi-structured interviews and the online survey. Following receipt of ethical approval in each of the five partner colleges, the primary data collection phase commenced in March 2015 and was completed by the end of May 2015.
The project team were very keen that the student’s voice should be heard loud and clear in the development of these units and therefore the online survey of existing international students provided such an opportunity. Using SurveyMonkey© the five partner colleges emailed a link to the survey to the international students in their respective colleges. We received a total of 573 responses which represents a significant response rate and certainly added to the validity of the findings; a summary of which is presented in the form of three areas of interest: Academic; Practical and Social.
However, the other side of the learning coin is the college staff that teach and support incoming international schools. Therefore, the third element of the research involved doing semi-structured interviews with international officers and lecturing staff who have extensive experience of teaching incoming international students with the view to gaining insight from their know-how and understanding.