I Have Studied, Why I still Fail? – Oct 13

By Grace Susatyo


In my role as a Student Advisor, I am curious in finding out what factor that makes a lot of Asian international students’ fail when studying in an Australian university. Based on numerous interviews with different students from different countries, I found that different learning style is what mainly contributes to their failures.


Like many Asian international students, I was brought up with a learning style famously called as a ‘spoon-feeding’ system. I could say that I was a passive recipient in education. Learning was merely accepting and absorbing everything what the teacher said. The teachers would give the exact information and knowledge for us to pass the test. And I was also taught not to question or challenge the teachers. Therefore I was likely to express my opinion, unless being asked. With this learning style, I came to study in Australia.


At first, I thought studying in Australia was very relaxing. I only need to go to three hours of lecture and one hour of tutorial for each unit. And I only studied four units in every semester. I thought “Easy peasy, lemon squeezy”; like what my daughter loves to say. But then, it was like a big slap on my face, when I saw a big letter F on my first essay and I got only a pass in all of my units. I was puzzled and started searching for answers.


I always thought, as long as I attended lectures, read lecture notes and did my tutorial work, I would be a perfect student. I never read the chapter reference from textbook, because I thought lecture notes had it all. Plus reading the textbook in English, was a time-consuming task. I did not realize that I never adjusted my learning style when I started studying in Australia, no wonder I failed. And this is the same mistake that many international students do now.


If you are on the same page like I did, you can overcome this by first having a willingness to change. Just like we adapted to the Australian’s weather when we first came here, we also need to adapt the Australian way of studying. Secondly, it is okay to ask questions to your lecturers and express your opinions in tutorial discussions. In fact, you are encouraged to do so. Lastly, be patient and do not give up! Old habits die hard. At first you are probably fraught with learning difficulties, but soon enough if you keep practicing the new learning style, you will get used to the new system and it will get easier for you.

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