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How immigrant students from Pacific Rim countries perceive science education in Canadian classrooms Mitsis, Louis Andreas

Abstract

This study documented the opinions and ideas of twelve immigrant students from Pacific Rim countries in a Canadian high school setting. Data was obtained by in-person, individual interviews. It was not very surprising to discover that there are major differences between Pacific Rim and Canadian science classrooms, as perceived and experienced by the students. Many of the stereotypes that educators hold of the Pacific Rim system of education were confirmed by several of the students that were interviewed. What was surprising is that many of the teaching methods used in the Pacific Rim system have been embraced by the students, and have been proven to support student success in science. After the completion of this study, it was difficult to determine which system of science education the students prefer. Most of the students interviewed stated that they generally disliked most of the methods and strategies used in their home countries. However, many of the students contradicted themselves by stating that the Canadian methods did not pose much of a challenge in order facilitate learning. To allow Pacific Rim immigrant students to adapt smoothly to our system of education, a combination of western and Pacific Rim methods should be incorporated. This study has implications for teachers who teach Pacific Rim immigrant students in secondary schools. Canadian science teachers, and all teachers in general, must not be too quick to judge and criticize the strategies and methods used by teachers in Pacific Rim countries. We must accept that some of their methods, regardless of the difference in philosophy, do work for many students. Canadian teachers should continue to use the strategies that they use comfortably, and try to incorporate parts of the Pacific Rim system. Perhaps this will allow Pacific Rim immigrant students to adapt to education system and our culture in a smoother fashion.

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