Project #3: Listening Sessions with University Departments

Conducted by Xi Yu
This is an ongoing initiative. Contact Xi Yu for more information or to request a session at


Listening sessions have been conducted collaborating with other units/Colleges on campus to compliment data sets, such as the International Student Barometer (ISB) and SERU, as a way to further research the gaps shown in those existing data sets or other unit-based assessments.

Listening session assistance from ISSS includes the development of outcomes and questions, recruitment of students, session facilitation, evaluation of the results, identification of possible resources, and prioritizing next steps. These sessions have been extremely beneficial in gathering feedback on courses, services or communications with international students.


Over the past year, over 10 service units and Colleges on 12 projects requested Listening Sessions to better understand the experiences of international students. These projects included approximately 20 to 25 groups and over 150 international students. The data collected from the sessions have provided first-hand information directly collected from students, and it assisted professionals on campus to prioritize next action steps for creating a more inclusive environment, enhancing student academic success or increasing their satisfaction.

Selected Listening Sessions

  Collaborated Units Topics
College of Biological Sciences (CBS)
  • To learn about CBS international student’s expectations for their experience at CBS
  • To learn about CBS international student’s experience in CBS courses
  • To learn about CBS international student’s experiences with CBS peers/faculty/staff
  • To learn about resources CBS international students have used and found helpful
  • To learn about what resources/support CBS international students wish to have
Community Engagement Services Learning (CESL)
  • Understanding of community engagement and service learning
  • Involvement and challenges for volunteering and service learning
  • Visibility and improvement of CESL services
Housing and Residental Life
  • Perspectives on their sense of belonging in the living community
  • Cultural differences in experiences and expectations about housing
  • Concerns and challenges about their living and learning environment
  • Accessibility and effectiveness of using relevant resources
Housing and Residental Life
  • Experiences and challenges for housing selection and application
  • Experiences with living and learning communities
  • Experience of building connections with others and the campus
Minnesota English Language Program (MELP)
  • MELP alumni students who are currently enrolled in academic degree at UMN
  • To understand their experiences and suggestions for improvement of MELP program
  • To improve curriculum development of MELP courses to better prepare international student’s English skills
  • To learn from students how the admission and enrollment process work for them
  • To improve communication strategy for admission process
International Student Academic Resources Committee
  • To understand how and in what amount international students use academic resources
  • To learn challenges of access and usage of academic resources


ISSS and CBS collaborated on listening session to better understand CBS international students experiences. The results revealed the great challenge for international students of working in groups in large classes at CBS, the need of faculty to facilitate the involvement of international students more effectively in class, and the wish of international students for resources on campus to enhance social interaction. The findings have been shared with CBS academic leadership team and used by faculty working with Center for Educational Innovation to re-design curriculum. It have also created beneficial opportunities to have international students’ opinions heard – the students actively participated in the session and seek future opportunities to raise their voices.