International students

Dr Pii-Tuulia Nikula is a senior lecturer at EIT’s School of Business and her research focus over the past few years has been international education. With about 100,000 students from all over the world enrolled in New Zealand institutions, Pii-Tuulia has looked at the ethical behaviour of participants in this booming industry.

One particular focus of her research is using business and management theories to better monitor and utilise offshore commercial third parties used by local education providers to recruit students.

Another focus is how best to support international students in their academic acculturation.

Pii-Tuulia’s approach involved innovating in her own classroom and then building research around that to establish positive consequences. For two years, Pii-Tuulia and her colleagues have been researching online simulations in a study called Transforming Learning Through Educational Simulations.

 “We have found that it helps the international students to really become much more self-directed because they are learning with the simulation. …They say they understand the course content better because they used the simulations,” says Pii-Tuulia.

The simulation approach has been in place for about two years and has involved up to two hundred students across EIT’s Hawke’s Bay and Auckland campuses.

A paper on the first trial was published last year and the final research will be published this year.

An earlier research project, undertaken in 2017, was innovation in the assessment of international students’ work.

Previously, students were required to submit all their assessment work in a written format.

For this research, students were offered three alternatives for submitting their assessment work: a written report, a video presentation and an in-class presentation.