Faculty Development Center hosts conference on teaching international students

Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer

The Faculty Development Center will hold an “Inspire to Educate” training conference on Nov. 18 at the Paducah campus to educate professors about how to more effectively teach international students.  

The conference is free to faculty members but will cost $25 for anyone who does not teach at Murray State.

The keynote speaker of the conference is Bridget Fletcher. Fletcher is the associate director of Academic and Student Services and course developer for the English communications program for Pratt Professional Master’s Program at Duke University, according to Murray State Digital Commons website.

Mike Kemp, professor of engineering, said Fletcher will speak about international education.

Kemp said he has a high number of international students in his engineering classes, and he has faced classroom management problems, including getting international students to visit his office hours.

“A lot of international students tend not to want to discuss things,” Kemp said. “They don’t want to bother the teacher because they feel like they are insulting a teacher if they ask a question.”

He said these issues occur because education is different in each country and international students do not understand the style of an American classroom.

“Our own teachers were starting to get frustrated because it was difficult,” Kemp said.

He said at the conference instructors will have a chance to discuss broad subjects like classroom management and more narrow topics such as student interactions, cheating, importance of homework and gender issues.

Kemp said he hopes the conference is educational and it reduces frustrations in the classroom.

“We might be able to modify our own techniques, our own behaviors, or how we run a class so that people who are not native English speakers can at least be successful in the classroom,” Kemp said.

Sid Martin, lecturer of engineering, said he was facing difficulties with international students in his classes so he asked Kemp and Elizabeth Price, the previous interim Faculty Development Center coordinator, for advice.

“I would be asking for his feedback because some of my international students had different understandings of plagiarism than what we have here in the United States,” Martin said.

Martin said he wants his international students to participate in class, but he said many do not.

“I want students to ask questions, particularly in the grad class, because that’s how I grow too,” Martin said. “If they won’t ask any questions then I can’t gage if they have understood what I tried to get across and I don’t get the opportunity to maybe learn something.”

Martin said he told faculty within engineering and contacts he has at Hopkinsville Community College, Madisonville Community College and West Kentucky Community and Technical College about the conference, but he said the committee sent it out over  listserv emails and websites.

Arthur Boston, site administrator of Murray State’s Digital Commons, said the event page for the Inspire Conference allows many people to see the prestigious events Murray State hosts.

Boston said the conference will be an engaging event with presentations to help instructors better the classroom for international students. He said those students make up the majority of classes.

“It seems there is the potential for all students, international or not, to benefit from teachers who get inspired this Nov. 18,” Boston said.