Creating an Interactive Online Orientation to Academic Practices for International Students


  • Victoria Surtees University of the Fraser Valley
  • Masaru Yamamoto University of British Columbia



Academic Discourse Socialization, Online Orientation, Internationalization, International Students, University


While universities are increasingly implementing programs to support international students’ language development, fewer orientation programs have sought to provide explicit guidance on expected academic practices in Canadian institutions. Many such academic norms—including the expectation to complete weekly readings, the use of first names with instructors, or participation grades—may be unfamiliar to students who were socialized in different academic cultures. This paper describes the creation of an online orientation module that introduced newly arrived international students to three aspects of local classroom practice: participation, preparing readings for class, and emailing instructors. Drawing on theories of academic discourse socialization, the module discusses norms (e.g., asking questions is expected) and provides ready-made language models for engaging in related practices (e.g., email templates). Initial results of a pilot with 74 incoming students suggest that these types of modules provide a promising avenue for supporting international student success. Details of the design process, including the selection of appropriate platforms and tools and the implementation of inclusive, accessible, and multimodal design principles, are presented. Recommendations for institutions wishing to develop similar support materials are also provided.




How to Cite

Surtees, V., & Yamamoto, M. . (2021). Creating an Interactive Online Orientation to Academic Practices for International Students. BC TEAL Journal, 6(1), 29–41.