Navigating the Graduate Seminar Discussion: A Qualitative Analysis of International Students’ Experiences

Fanni Liu Coward, Paul Chamness Miller


The study explores the experiences of international graduate students from China, Korea, and Taiwan as they participated in seminar discussions. Data were collected from three graduate classes over a two–month period at an American university in the southwest. Besides linguistic ability, other factors, such as goal orientation and sense of self in classroom discussion, were also identified as emergent themes in international students’ experiences. The results indicate the mediating power of classroom instructors and classmates as the participants negotiated their way through the learning experience. Additionally, the instructors and classmates served as mirrors, reflecting an image to the international students regarding their roles and who they are as participants in the seminar classroom.

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