EXPLORING LEARNING EXPERIENCES OF FIRST-GENERATION NIGERIAN GRADUATE STUDENTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN: EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND, TRANSITIONS, ADJUSTMENTS, AND ACCESS TO LEARNING SERVICES
This thesis suggested that success in a host institution’s work with international graduate students requires that university learning services intersect well with students’ peculiarities and needs. Numerous researchers have attempted to determine the weighty issues international students face (Andrade, 2006; Gu, Schweisfurth & Day, 2010; Hanassab, 2006; Leary, Hotchkiss & Robb, 2016; Sherry, Thomas & Chui, 2010). However, most have not considered the regional educational distinctions, particular institutional contexts, or students’ backgrounds from previous learning orientations or countries of origin. There has been limited work to solicit feedback and recommendations from students concerning how their most significant problems might have been solved in a manner to have adequately addressed the challenges they have faced. There is the assumption that institutional awareness of the needs of students enhances the design of befitting programs and services (Strange, 2010) and thus increase the universities’ capacities to retain international students through to the successful completion of their studies (Leary et al., 2016). Thus, this research investigated the learning experiences of first-generation Nigerian graduate students at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) and examined how learning services were perceived to match their needs. By qualitative methods, including interviews and focus groups with Nigerian students and student service personnel, the study established knowledge of the educational identity, transitions, and adjustment needs, and challenges of these students and those directly assigned to support them. The study affirmed the awareness of and access to the University’s learning services and assessed how these services matched the needs of these students. The researcher analyzed the findings of this study using theoretical frameworks in students’ success, students’ persistence, and principles and strategies of good practice in student services. Also, the researcher presented findings from this study along with implications for enhanced provision of student services, as well as to guide faculty in means to better know their students. The study presented implications for theory, practice, and policy, and concluded with the researcher’s suggestions for further research.
International Student, First Generation International Graduate Students, Academic Needs of International Graduate Students, University Support Programs or Services
Master of Education (M.Ed.)