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This paper is the first part of a longitudinal study focussing on facilitating independent learning amongst Chinese International students completing the Bachelor of Applied Business Studies at Whitireia Polytechnic. The major rationale advanced for developing independence is that this an important graduate competency required by Western employers. Evidence from the literature indicates that new Chinese international students will initially have a low level of willingness and ability to practise independent learning. A model of independence is developed based on the Staged Self-Directed Learning model (Grow, 1991) and on the Situational Model of Leadership (Hersey & Blanchard, cited in Hersey & Blanchard, 1996). Grow's model characterises four learning levels ranging from dependent to self-directed and it is proposed that, if suitable teaching strategies are employed, students should progress towards higher levels of independence as they advance through the degree. Confirming the evidence from the literature review, the findings indicate that the class is at level two of independence. Suitable teaching strategies for level two learners will be developed and implemented in parts two and three of this project.
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