Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mari Tinney


Chinese students represent the largest cohort of international students studying at Canadian university business programs. These Chinese students often experience cross-cultural barriers that inhibit their full participation in the business schools' learning culture. The purpose of this case study was to identify the acculturation strategies applied by Chinese students who had successfully adapted to the learning culture in business programs. Mezirow's transformative learning theory and Bennett's intercultural adaptation theory provided the conceptual framework to inform the study. The research questions examined the cultural adaptation experiences of Chinese students and on the barriers and effective strategies for academic success from the perspectives of both faculty and students at the study site. Six graduating Chinese business students who had adapted well to the local learning culture and achieved academic success and 5 current faculty members with experience teaching Chinese students were purposefully identified and interviewed. Data were open coded and analyzed for themes. Themes related to key barriers and associated adaptive strategies were identified. Major barriers included differences between Chinese and Canadian educational expectations and cultures and the need for faculty understanding of students' adaptation process. Adaptive strategies for students included accessing local resources and support and recognizing the combination of academic, social, and psychological factors involved in successful acculturation. A blended learning professional development project was created for faculty members to improve their skills in developing culturally sensitive pedagogy. With increased cultural competence faculty may better support these Chinese students, improve their classroom experience, and enable them to succeed in their academic pursuits.