Some quick advice on how international students can prepare themselves for their academic start at Lincoln University.
Learning a few things about a new environment before starting your journey will help you adapt more quickly to your student life here at Lincoln University. You can find out more about the possible differences in the teaching and learning approaches, assessment methods, academic communication styles and the kind of support you will obtain here.
Learning and Teaching Approach
In New Zealand, you are expected to take an active role in your studies. This means, for example, actively participating in class or group discussions. Sharing your own ideas may not have been necessary in the educational environments you have studied in previously. However, these discussions are expected at Lincoln University and necessary for your success as a learner. In this academic culture, you are considered a partner with your teacher and expected to present your own thoughts. Taking an active role also means asking questions and seeking help right when you need it. Students who ask questions are demonstrating their engagement with their course content and show they are learning new things. It is expected that you share your thoughts and questions with your lecturers, tutors, classmates and different study groups on a regular basis. The librarians and learning advisors at Learning, Teaching and Library are here to support you academically as well.
As well as being an active learner, you should be an independent learner. This means reading and brainstorming ideas before lectures or tutorials, searching for extra resources on the subject matter, and analysing ideas or issues critically. Plus, you will need to manage your own time to work on assessments and prepare for exams, to name a few. Taking responsibility for your own studies will help you thrive in your academic journey here.
Ways of assessing and grading
At Lincoln University, your work might be assessed in a variety of ways including tests, quizzes, oral presentations, individual or group work essays, reports, case studies, projects, field/ lab work and exams. There might be more writing than you are used to in your home country. Also, be aware that the marking system might be different here. Please familiarise yourself with Lincoln University marking scale and assessment criteria, which will be clearly stated in your course outlines.
Writing and referencing style
The writing style expected at universities in New Zealand, just like in many other Western universities, might differ from the style you are familiar with. To produce a well-structured piece of writing, you first need to write in a direct manner. This means starting off with your main point and following up with strong reasoning and evidence, rather than the other way round.
The American Psychological Association (APA) referencing style is used at Lincoln University. Some of you might be more familiar with other referencing styles from your previous study programmes. Make sure you learn how to reference your resources in the correct APA format early on to save time when the due dates of assessments get close. You can find plenty of instructional resources on this website on how to do your research and reference the sources in your assessments.
Interactions with staff
Having great interactions with the teaching and administrative staff in a new educational context will make your academic journey more pleasant and minimise anxiety. Sometimes you might find a quick fix to a problem just by having a little chat.
Remember that you are always welcome to email your examiner, lecturer, tutor, course advisor or other staff with your inquiries. They will try to get back to you as soon as they can or refer you to someone who can provide you with appropriate support. Also, feel free to make appointments with your lecturers or other staff if you are more comfortable having face-to-face conversations.
Another thing that is worth mentioning is that in New Zealand, it is quite common that professors, lecturers and staff at universities are addressed by their first names. To some international students, this might be surprising at first, but you will soon see that this can create friendly relationships between students and teaching staff, making the staff more approachable to the students.
English language support
If English is not your first language, or even if it is, you may have some difficulties understanding the Kiwi accent at first. Kiwis are known for their fast speech rate too. Besides this, New Zealand is a multi-ethnic country, and here at Lincoln, you will soon be working with staff and students from many different countries. It takes a while to get used to all the different English accents, so if you’re talking to someone and you’re not sure what they’re saying, don’t be afraid to get them to repeat themselves slowly.
If you find it hard to follow lectures and tutorials at the early stages, it might help to carefully complete all the assigned readings before your sessions and learn the new content vocabulary in advance. You can also watch lectures again as they are recorded.
If you need to improve your written English, there are a range of resources and support services available that can help. You can book a workshop, book an appointment or ask a grammar question online (click on Ask Live on this website). Having a talk with a learning advisor can help you identify your priority language needs and approaches to address them. This is a free service for all Lincoln University students.