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Dissertation Theses

The adaptation of mainland Chinese research postgraduates to the University of Hong Kong

  • The adaptation of mainland Chinese research postgraduates to the University of Hong Kong
  • 2006
    • Hong Kong
    • 1997.7 onwards
    • Post-Secondary Education
  • The universities in Hong Kong have attracted large numbers of Mainland Research Postgraduates (MRPs) in the last ten years but little research has focused on their adaptation. Such a study is of value as MRPs have special features of being both graduate students and adapting to a sibling cultural environment, which are comparatively less investigated in previous research. Based on college impact theories, which propose that academic integration and social integration are the major predictors of student persistence and satisfaction, this study modified Tinto's (1993) model for the study of MRPs' adaptation to the universities of Hong Kong. Unlike most previous research that emphasized either institutional factors or cultural factors of student adaptation, this research enhanced Tinto's model with a new cultural element: interaction with Hong Kong culture and people. Persistence intention as well as satisfaction were utilised as indicators of MRPs' adaptation. Satisfaction, in particular, was also hypothesised as a mediating factor for persistence intention. Two quantitative and one qualitative studies were conducted. 103 MRPs from the University of Hong Kong participated in the first study, which aimed at validating instruments and exploring the pattern of correlations between the major variables involved. 222 MRPs from four universities of Hong Kong participated in the second study designed to test the model.
    Another 24 and 3 MRPs participated in the focus-group discussions and follow-up interviews respectively in the third study designed for triangulation and a further understanding of MRPs' adaptation. The results generally supported the fit of the model with the data. They showed that the sibling cultural setting and the presence of large numbers of Mainland fellow peers in the universities of Hong Kong provided a culturally grounded environment for the MRPs but difficulties relating to cultural differences such as problems with language and in interactions with supervisors, local people, and peers were still reported. Academic integration played a more important role than social integration in predicting their satisfaction in MRPs' adaptation. However, in the struggles with the pressures resulting from academic integration, social integration served as an important support to the MRPs in both academic issues and the fulfillment of their social and emotional needs. The interactions with supervisor, expected by most informants to be the major help for their academic integration, was reported by some students as a major problem in their adaptation. Background variables such as motivation, Cantonese proficiency and self-evaluated English language skills showed significant correlations with MRPs' academic integration, social integration, satisfaction, and persistence intention. Two significant program by gender group differences were identified, indicating significant higher levels of interaction with peers among the male MPhils than the male PhDs and among the male MPhils than the female MPhils. This study has contributed to both the literature of acculturation, college impact in a non-Western context, and postgraduate student in general: an area not known for its use of sophisticated research models and analytic methods. It also provides practical guide to MRPs for their adaptation and to the relevant administrators on what to do to help MRPs' adjustment.
  • PhD
  • University of Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong
    • English
  • Dissertation Theses
  • 2010-12-16

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