Facilitating the Smooth Transition of Second-Year XJTLU Students into Planning Programmes at the University Of Liverpool

Results and Reflections from an Ongoing Series of Interventions


  • Bertie Dockerill University of Manchester
  • İan Mell University of Manchester
  • Alex Nurse University of Liverpool





Planning pedagogy, student learning and teaching, reflective practice, authentic assessment, University of Liverpool, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University


Increasingly internationalised student cohorts within planning schools offer opportunities to enhance existent student learning, but may also present potential issues, such as language difficulties, cultural disorientation, and the need to assimilate learning styles, internationalise curricula, and varying pedagogic teaching styles, all of which can impact staffing and costs. In 2016 the Department of Planning and Geography at the University of Liverpool obtained a Learning & Teaching (T&L) Award to develop projects examining the potential for a more meaningful learning experience for undergraduate students transitioning to Liverpool from XJTLU – the university’s sister institution in Suzhou, China. This intervention primarily sought to promote complementary understanding of British and Chinese planning at XJTLU and UoL to facilitate improved academic attainment for XJTLU students completing their studies in Liverpool. Evaluating those aspects of the intervention focused on additional contact and one-to-one guidance for students, this paper reflects on this project and develops recommendations on managing the process of student transfer as well as ensuring that the planning discipline integrates “soft skills” more effectively in its teaching.

How to Cite

Dockerill, B., Mell, İan, & Nurse, A. (2021). Facilitating the Smooth Transition of Second-Year XJTLU Students into Planning Programmes at the University Of Liverpool: Results and Reflections from an Ongoing Series of Interventions. Transactions of the Association of European Schools of Planning, 5(2), 113–130. https://doi.org/10.24306/TrAESOP.2021.02.003



Author Biographies

Bertie Dockerill, University of Manchester

School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED)

İan Mell, University of Manchester

School of Environment, Education and Development (SEED)

Alex Nurse, University of Liverpool

School of Environmental Sciences 


Ainscow, M.J. (2005) Developing inclusive education systems: What are the levels for change? Journal of Educational Change, 6(2):109-124

Azmat, F., Osborne, A., Le Rossignol, K., Jogulu, U., Rentschler, R., Robottom, I. and Malathy, V. (2013) Understanding aspirations and expectations of international students in Australian higher education. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 33 (1): 97-111

Batey, P.W.J. (1985) Postgraduate planning education in Britain: Its purpose, content, and organisation. In Batey, P.W.J. (ed.), Education for planning: Retrospect and prospect. Liverpool: Town Planning Review/University of Liverpool, 407-420

Berdanier, C.G., McCall, M., and Mike, G. (2016) A degree is not enough: Promoting engineering identity development and professional planning through the teaching of engineering résumé writing. Frontiers in Education Conference, IEEE, 1-5

Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., and Wiliam, D. (2004) Working inside the black box: Assessment for learning in the classroom. Phi Delta Kappa, 86(1):8-21

Bretag, T., Mahmud, S., Wallace, M., Walker, R., McGowan, U., East, J., Green, M., Partridge, L. & James, C. (2014) ‘Teach us how to do it properly!’ An Australian academic integrity student survey. Studies in Higher Education, 39 (7):1150-1169

Brown, D. (2017). An evidence-based analysis of learning practices: the need for pharmacy students to employ more effective study strategies. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 9(2):163-170

Brydon-Miller, M., Greenwood, D., and Maguire, P., 2003 Why action research? Action Research, 1(1): 9-28

Bryman, A. (2012) Social research methods (4th edn). Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cantwell, B. (2015) Are International Students Cash Cows? Examining the Relationship Between New International Undergraduate Enrollments and Institutional Revenue at Public Colleges and Universities in the US. Journal of International Studies, 5 (4):512-525

Cecilio-Fernandes, D., Cnossen, F., Jaarsma, D.A. and Tio, R.A. (2017) Avoiding surgical skill decay: A systematic review on the spacing of training sessions. Journal of Surgical Education, DOI: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2017.08.002

Chankseliani, M. (2017) Four Rationales of HE Internationalization: Perspectives of U.K. Universities on Attracting Students From Former Soviet Countries. Journal of Studies in International Education, 22 (1):53-70

Cheng, X. (2000) Asian students’ reticence revisited. System, 28(3):435-446

Clarke, A., Johal, T., Sharp, K., and Quinn, S. (2016) Achieving equivalence: A transnational curriculum design framework. International Journal for Academic Development, 21(4):364-376

Cooner, T.S. (2010) Creating opportunities for students in large cohorts to reflect in and on practice: Lessons learnt from a formative evaluation of students’ experiences of a technology-enhanced blended learning design. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(2):271-286

Creso, M.A., and Sabzalieva, E. (2018) The politics of the great brain race: public policy and international student recruitment in Australia, Canada, England and the USA. Higher Education, 75 (2):231-253

Cuseo, J. (2007) The empirical case against large class size: Adverse effects on the teaching, learning, and retention of first-year students. Journal of Faculty Development, 21(1):5-21

Davies, R (2008) The Bologna process: the quiet revolution in nursing higher education. Nurse Education Today 28: 935-942

Desy, J., Busche, K., Cusano, R., Veale, P., Coderre, S. and McLaughlin, K. (2017) How teachers can help learners build storage and retrieval strength. Medical Teacher, DOI: 10.1080/0142159X.2017.1408900

DeNeve, K.M., and Heppner, M.J. (1997) Role play simulations: The assessment of an active learning technique and comparisons with traditional lectures. Innovative Higher Education, 21(3):231-246

De Wit, H., Hunter, F., Howard, L., & Egron-Polak, E. (2015) Internationalisation of higher education. Study requested by the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education http://www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/STUD/2015/540370/IPOL_STU(2015)540370_EN.pdf

Dühr, S., Cowell, R., and Markus, E. (2016) Europeanizing planning education and the enduring power of national institutions. International Planning Studies, 21(1):16-33

Elkin, G., Devjee, F. & Farnsworth, J. (2005) Visualising the “internationalisation” of universities. International Journal of Educational Management, 19(4):318-329

Gabb, D. (2006) Transcultural Dynamics in the Classroom. Journal of Studies of International Education, 10 (4): 357-368

Goddard, J., Coombes, M., Kempton, L. & Vallance, P. (2014) Universities as anchor institutions in cities in a turbulent funding environment: vulnerable institutions and vulnerable places in England, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 7(2):307–325

Groeppel-Klein, A., Germelmann, C.C., and Glaum, M. (2010) Intercultural interaction needs more than mere exposure: Searching for drivers of student interaction at border universities. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 34 (3):253-267

Haidet, P., Morgan, R.O., O’Malley, K., Moran, B.J., and Richards, B.F. (2004) A controlled trial of active versus passive learning strategies in a large group setting. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 9(1):15-27

Hayes, A. (2017) Why international students have been “TEF-ed out”?. Educational Review, 69(2):218-231

Keeling, R. (2006) The Bologna Process and the Lisbon Research Agenda: the European Commission’s expanding role in higher education discourse. European journal of education 41, 203-223

Kelly, P. &Moogan, Y. (2012) Culture Shock and Higher Education Performance: Implications for Teaching. Higher Education Quarterly, 66(1): 24-46

Kunzmann, K.R. and Yuan, L. (2014) Educating planners from China in Europe. disP: The Planning Review, 50(4):66-70

Lage, M. J., Platt, G. J., and Treglia, M. (2000) Inverting the classroom: A gateway to creating an inclusive learning environment. Journal of Economic Education, 31(1):30-43

Lauridsen, K.M. (2020) It Does Not Happen by Osmosis: Creating an Internationalized Learning Opportunity for All Students Requires Careful Consideration and Specific Action. In: Boweles, H. & Murphy, A.C. (2020) (Eds.) English-Medium Instruction and the Internationalization of Universities. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham (Switzerland), 205-227

Leask, B. (2015) Internationalizing the Curriculum in the Disciplines—Imagining New Possibilities. Journal of Studies in International Education. 17(2):103-118

Lee, A., Poch, R., Smith, A., Delehanty Kelly, M. & Leopold, H. (2018) Intercultural Pedagogy: A Faculty Learning Cohort. Educational Sciences, 8 (177), https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci8040177

Levy, P. and Petrulis, R. (2012) How do first-year university students experience inquiry and research, and what are the implications for the practice of inquiry-based learning? Studies in Higher Education, 37(1): 85-101

Otero, MS (2008) The Socio-Economic Background of Erasmus Students: A Trend Towards Wider Inclusion? International Review of Education 54, 135-154

McGarvey, A., Brugha, R., Conroy, R.M., Clarke, E. and Bryne, E. (2015) International students’ experience of a western medical school: a mixed methods study exploring the early years in the context of cultural and social adjustment compared to students from the host country. BMC Medical Education, 15 (111) DOI:10.1186/s12909-015-0394-2

Nixon, E., Scullion, R., and Hearn, E. (2016) Her majesty the student: Marketised higher education and the narcissistic (dis)satisfactions of the student-consumer. Studies in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2016.1196353

Nixon, S., Brooman, S., Murphy, B., and Fearon, D. (2016).Clarity, consistency and communication: Using enhanced dialogue to create a course-based feedback strategy. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, DOI: 10.1080/02602938.2016.1195333

Nurse, A. (2015) Creating the North from the sum of its parts? Research questions to assess the Northern Powerhouse, Local Economy 30 (6):689-701

Power, J.B. (2016) Has this begun to change the way they think? Moving undergraduate learners’ level of reflection from where it is to where it needs to be. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(3):235-248

Quality Assurance Agency (2014) Subject Benchmark Statement: Geography

Quality Assurance Agency (2016) Subject Benchmark Statement: Town and Country Planning

Reinalda, B and Kulesza, E. (2005) The Bologna process: Harmonizing Europe’s higher education.

Barbara Budrich Opladen

Robson, S. & Turner, Y. (2007) ‘Teaching is a co-learning experience’: academics reflecting on learning and teaching in an ‘internationalized’ faculty. Teaching in Higher Education, 12(1): 41-54

Rohman, A. and Pang, N. (2015) Seeking common ground: Coffee shops as information grounds in the context of conflict. Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology, 52(1):1-10

Rowe, A. (2011) The personal dimension in teaching: Why students value feedback. International Journal of Educational Management, 25(4):343-360

Ryan, J. (2011) Teaching and learning for international students: towards a transcultural approach. Teachers and Teaching, 17(6):631-648

Sawir, E. (2011) Academic staff response to international students and internationalising the curriculum: the impact of disciplinary differences. International Journal of Academic Development, 16 (1):45-57

Schipper, M. & van der Steppen, E. (2018) Motivation and Attitude of Computer Engineering Students toward Soft Skills. 2018 IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference (EDUCON), 17-20 April 2018, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain

Schumm, M., Soska, A., Joseph, S., Reschke, M., Mottok, J., Niemetz, M., and Schroll-Decker, I. (2014) Comparison of frontal lecture and workshop learning arrangements in a software engineering education project. Global Engineering Education Proceedings, IEEE, 652-658

Singh, H., Hachemi, S. and Pena-Fernandez, A. (2017) Student facilitated walk-in workshops to support peer-learning of human anatomy and physiology on health science programmes. Proceedings of INTED 2017 Conference, 1193-1199

Sumsion, J. & Goodfellow, J. (2004). Identifying generic skills through curriculum mapping: a critical evaluation. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(3):329-346

Sykes, O., Jha-Thakur, U., and Potter, K. (2015) ‘What’s love got to do with it?’ Some reflections on the internationalization of Planning education. Planning Education, 3, 82–91

Tian, M. and Lowe, J. (2009) Existentialist internationalisation and the Chinese student experience in English universities. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 39(5):659-676

Turner, Y. (2006) Chinese Students in a UK Business School: Hearing the Student Voice in Reflective Teaching and Learning Practice. Higher Education Quarterly, 60 (1):27-51

Walker, P. (2014) International student policies in UK higher education from colonialism to the coalition: Developments and consequences. Journal of Studies in International Education 18(4):325-344

Wentao, C., Jinyu, Z. and Zhonggen, Y. (2017) Advantages and disadvantages of clicker use in education. International Journal of Information and Communication Technology Education (IJICTE), 13(1):61-71

Winstone, N.E., Nash, R.A., Parker, M., and Rowntree, J. (2017) Supporting learners’ agentic engagement with feedback: A systematic review and a taxonomy of recipience processes. Educational Psychologist, 52(1):17-37

Wright, M. (1982) Lord Leverhulme’s unknown venture: The Lever Chair and the beginnings of town and regional planning, 1908-48. London: Hutchinson Benham.

Wylie, M. (2008) Internationalizing curriculum: Framing theory and practice in international schools. Journal of Research in International Education. 7(1), 5-19

Yuan, R., Liu, M.J., Luo, J., and Yen, D.A. (2016) Reciprocal transfer of brand identity and image associations arising from higher education brand extensions. Journal of Business Research, 69 (8):3069-3076

Zuber-Skerritt, O. and Farquhar, M. (2002). Action learning, action research and process management (ALARPM): A personal history. The Learning Organization, 9(3):102-113