New preparatory optional physical education model for foreign students: benefits analysis

PhD, Associate Professor O.E. Piskun1
PhD, Associate Professor N.N. Vengerova1
Dr.Sc.Tech., Professor D.G. Arsenyev1
PhD, Associate Professor V.V. Krasnoshchekov1
1Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, St. Petersburg

Corresponding author: piskun@imop.ru

Abstract

Objective of the study was to design and analyze benefits of an optional physical education model for the preparatory-course foreign students to facilitate their socio-cultural adaptation to the Russian academic environments.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled for the new optional physical education model testing experiment the Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University’s preparatory-course foreign students (n=68) of the following origins: Asian: China, Mongolia, Vietnam (76.5% of the sample); African: 13.2%, and European - 10.3%.

We designed our optional physical education model for foreign students with the health physical education technologies as required by the valid Federal State Higher Education Standards to include the following two modules: Team Sports (volleyball, basketball, football, table tennis and badminton); and Fitness Technologies (strength and fitness trainings in gyms). The sample was trained using the above modules for one academic year, with the progress tested by tests and the team sports competitions at the Small Olympic Games for the foreign students.

To rate and analyze practical benefits of the new optional physical education model for the preparatory-course foreign students’ adaptation to new living and learning conditions, in addition to their competitive fitness and socializing progress tests, we used the standard individual psychology rating Cattell 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire; and the Fiedler-Yasyukova tests of the communicative skills and priorities, understanding of other people, self-esteem etc.

Results and conclusion. The optional physical education model testing experiment found the model being beneficial for the psychological comfort and progress of the foreign students in the mass sports events (facilitated by the optional physical education off-class practices and team sports competitions), with special benefits for the foreign students’ adaptation to the Russian university environment. The pre- versus post-experimental tests found progress of the young foreigners on the interpersonal tolerance, optimism, psychological comfort, benevolence and other test scales. Based on the study data and analyses, we would recommend the academic physical education curriculum for the foreign students to be designed and managed with the highest sensitivity to the foreign students’ individual psychological and gender-specific personality factors and the regional ethnic and cultural specifics.

Keywords: physical activity program, personality factors, foreign students’ integration.

Background. Modern Russian higher professional education service facilitates international cooperation by the high quality education service for foreign students, with their inflows considered an indirect indicator of the service quality and competitiveness [2, 4]. The foreign students’ adaptation and integration upon entrance, however, may be problematic due to multiple factors being dependent not only on the assistance from the host establishments [1, 5] but also on the foreign students’ individual typological traits and the origin-specific ethnic and cultural traditions.

Some researchers underline in this context a set of factors of special influence on the foreign students’ adaptation including the socio-cultural, socio-communicative, everyday living standards [7], psycho-physiological, cognitive/ learning (adjusted for the language barriers), local traditions (national and regional), climatic conditions, individual mentalities, educational environments (institutional factors) etc. classifiable into the relevant groups.

Many studies of the foreign students’ integrating issues faced by the Russian higher education system prioritize the education service customization aspects [5] in the context of personality-typing methods sensitive to the global regions of origin with the relevant findings and recommendations. However, the available study reports give virtually no ideas on how the specific pedagogical technologies should be used to facilitate the socio-cultural adaptation of the young foreigners.

We believe that the national academic educational system needs a special foreign students adaptation facilitating toolkit with combined and versatile technologies including: optional physical education service concept for the foreign students with the necessary psychological and educational support [3]; academic communication standards [4] to integrate the foreign students on the origin-sensitive basis; and the faculty/ peer efforts to encourage the foreign students’ engagement in the academic mass sport events and sporting cultures.

Objective of the study was to design and analyze benefits of an optional physical education model for the preparatory-course foreign students to facilitate their socio-cultural adaptation to the Russian academic environments.

Methods and structure of the study. We sampled for the new optional physical education model testing experiment the Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University’s preparatory-course foreign students (n=68) of the following origins: Asian: China, Mongolia, Vietnam (76.5% of the sample); African: 13.2%, and European - 10.3%.

We designed our optional physical education model for foreign students with the health physical education technologies as required by the valid Federal State Higher Education Standards [3] to include the following two modules: Team Sports (volleyball, basketball, football, table tennis and badminton); and Fitness Technologies (strength and fitness trainings in gyms). The sample was trained using the above modules for one academic year, with the progress tested by tests and the team sports competitions at the Small Olympic Games for the foreign students.

To rate and analyze practical benefits of the new optional physical education model for the preparatory-course foreign students’ adaptation to new living and learning conditions, in addition to their competitive fitness and socializing progress tests, we used the standard individual psychology rating Cattell 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire; and the Fiedler-Yasyukova tests of the communicative skills and priorities, understanding of other people, self-esteem etc. [6].

Results and discussion. The optional physical education model was tested as complementary to the regular academic classes, with the foreign students given freedom in opting for the preferred physical activity / sports. These preferences were found the origin- and gender-specific to a degree [1]. Thus the Asian students preferred badminton (Vietnam, China), table tennis (China), basketball (China, Europe), and football (Africa). The girls preferred mostly badminton and fitness trainings. The off-class optional physical education trainings took 90 min twice a week.

Given in Table 1 are the personality factors test data of the sample – indicative to a degree of the potential progresses in the optional physical education classes [2] and their personal physical activity and leisure-time agenda, with a special emphasis on the social adaptation improvement aspects (communication skills, mutual tolerance, open-mindedness, benevolence etc.) in the new living, cultural and learning environments at the Russian university.

Table 1. Cattell personality factors test data of the foreign students’ sample, on a 6-point scale

Group

Cattell personality factors

Q1

E

G

M

Q2

Males (n=43)

2,51

3,05

3,33

3,00

2,15

Females (n=25)

2,54

3,12

3,12

2,46

1,96

Africa (n=9)

3,43

2,71

4,00

3,14

2,14

Asia (n=52)

2,14

3,05

3,02

2,52

1,95

Europe (n=7)

4,20

3,20

4,40

3,40

2,80


Note: Q1 – dynamism, radicalism/ conservatism, rigidity; E - independence, leadership qualities/ obedience, compliance; G - responsibility, diligence/ negligence; M – wide interests/ pragmatism, practicality; Q2 - self-sufficiency, independence from the group/ conformism, collectivism.

Given in Table 2 are the communicative skills and self-esteem Fiedler-Yasyukova test data of the sample [11].

Table 2. Communicative skills and self-esteem Fiedler-Yasyukova test data of the sample

Group

Fiedler-Yasyukova test rates

MPC

LPC

CO

ASO

Р

Males

7,31

6,20

7,21

12,45

-1,17

Females

7,37

4,70

6,68

11,20

-8,33

Africa

7,33

4,02

7,83

13,42

6

Asia

7,49

6,02

6,92

12,11

-6,84

Europe

6,78

5,19

6,12

11,18

-8,01


Note:  MPC - attitude to friends and relatives; LPC - attitude to unpleasant people; CO - self-esteem; ASO – people understanding ability; P - self-criticism.

The survey found virtually no gender specifics in the personality factors, whilst the personality types were found related with the regional national cultures as follows:

- The Asian foreign students are the most conservative, rigid, conformal, focused on stable group communication, pragmatic and undetermined;

- The European foreign students are the least conformable, most independent, leadership-centered, independent in thinking, demonstrating wide interests and highly responsible; and

- The African foreign students are compliant, reluctant to lead, less conformable and rigid than the Asian peers, and close to the Europeans in the scopes of interests and responsibility.

The benevolent attitudes to friends and relatives were tested virtually origin-unspecific and equally high. Young men are generally more confident and kind to the surrounding than women, although the European foreign students are somewhat more skeptical and their African peers less self-critical than the others.

The post-experimental psychological tests of the foreign students in education process found most of the men and women (80.1% and 80.8% respectively) psychologically comfortable in the Russian university environment, with the moods tested more optimistic (24.3% and 34.6%, respectively) [than in the pre-experimental tests].

The interpersonal ethnic/ cultural tolerance pre- versus post-experimental tests in the optional physical education model testing experiment found progress in the women and men groups of

 17.4% (4.46 points) and 19.4% (4.18 points), respectively; with the African foreign students tested with the highest (4.84 point) tolerance on average.

Conclusion. The optional physical education model testing experiment found the model being beneficial for the psychological comfort and progress of the foreign students in the mass sports events (facilitated by the optional physical education off-class practices and team sports competitions), with special benefits for the foreign students’ adaptation to the Russian university environment. The pre- versus post-experimental tests found progress of the young foreigners on the interpersonal tolerance, optimism, psychological comfort, benevolence and other test scales. Based on the study data and analyses, we would recommend the academic physical education curriculum for the foreign students to be designed and managed with the highest sensitivity to the foreign students’ individual psychological and gender-specific personality factors and the regional ethnic and cultural specifics.

References

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