A cross-cultural study of academic help-seeking among postgraduate-taught students at a Scottish university

Shih, Hsin-Yi (2022) A cross-cultural study of academic help-seeking among postgraduate-taught students at a Scottish university. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Academic help-seeking behaviour is an important learning strategy that helps students succeed when they are unable to solve an academic problem on their own. Educational psychology research has strived to identify which factors predict academic help-seeking and has indicated that self-efficacy is significantly related to academic help-seeking. However, previous studies have neither considered international students nor provided an in-depth exploration of the help-seeking process in the Scottish postgraduate taught context. Thus, the overall purpose of this thesis is to examine and understand what and how PGT academic help-seeking process took place in a Scottish university. Consisting of a main study and a follow-on study, it helps to understand how academic and social self-efficacy and other influential factors influence academic help-seeking behaviour among postgraduate taught students (PGT) and to examine the similarities or differences between British and Chinese international PGT students — and provides insight into how the time-transition figures into PGT students’ help-seeking behaviour trajectories.

A sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach was used for this thesis, entailing a quantitative online survey (N = 104) followed by qualitative semi-structured interviews (N = 14) to elaborate on the quantitative findings. The online survey data were analysed using SPSS software and interview transcripts were analysed thematically using NVivo. The interpretation was drawn from both the quantitative and qualitative results. With the onset of the pandemic (2020-), in order to increase the thesis' scope and test the proposed model from the original sequential explanatory mixed-methods study, a follow-on study was conducted using the chosen qualitative visually-guided interview method (N = 8) to explore PGT academic help-seeking behaviour trajectories. The interview transcripts were analysed thematically using NVivo. The final interpretation and conclusions were drawn from both the original study and the follow-on study results.

The key findings from this thesis suggest that there is a complex dynamic interaction of demographic, psychological and contextual factors with participants’ personal beliefs and attitudes towards seeking academic help. Additionally, some cultural differences emerged, although academic and social self-efficacy were equally important for British and Chinese PGT students’ academic help-seeking. By using a combination of Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory and Urie Bronfenbrenner’s Bio-ecological Theory as theoretical frameworks, this thesis offers new insight into conceptualising the mechanisms involved in academic help-seeking. The findings of this thesis support and expand on recent work suggesting the inclusion of environmental influences in academic help-seeking, the importance of social interaction, the reflection of academic development, and the need for a comprehensive framework for understanding academic help-seeking in the Scottish PGT context. This thesis also demonstrates the value of mixed-method approaches to understanding PGT students’ academic help-seeking behaviour. The implications and limitations of the current research are discussed, highlighting that the academic help-seeking process is more complex than previous research suggests and that multiple environmental influences should be considered.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Makara Fuller, Dr. Kara and Elliot, Dr. Dely
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82995
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2022 15:04
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2022 15:05
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82995
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82995

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