Reflections of Learning Experiences of International Students in Sweden




course structure, cultural and contextual differences, international students, learning, reflection, Sweden


The purpose of this article is to present a qualitative study exploring a small cohort of nine international students’ in-depth reflections about their teaching and learning experiences studying at a major Swedish University. Interestingly while there have been numerous studies reporting on the experiences of international students attending Anglo-Saxon universities, few studies have explored teaching and learning experiences of international students studying in Sweden. Using Carol Rodgers (2002) model of four functions of reflections provided a novel way to explore international students’ reflections about their learning experiences in Sweden, especially how these are shown in the following different cycles, of presence, description, analysis and experimentation. Making sense of international students’ experiences allows us as university lecturers to enhance our understanding how to better support international students’ in their learning away from their home universities. 

Author Biographies

Liisa Uusimaki, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

LIISA UUSIMAKI is an Associate Professor in Pedagogy at the Department of Education and Special Needs Education at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Based on her interest and expertise in teaching and learning in higher education she received an Excellent Teacher award in 2018. Her teaching and research areas include; internationalisation, pedagogical and educational leadership, inclusion, identity, mentoring, professional development and developmental psychology. Email:

Susanne Garvis, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

SUSANNE GARVIS is a Professor of Education and the Chair of Department of Education at Swinburne University of Technology. She has extensive experience working within early childhood education around the areas of policy, quality and learning. Her work has also focused on teacher education and the importance of inclusive and democratic ways of working. Email:


Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. Freeman.

Bladh, A. (2018). Internationalisation of Swedish higher education and research.

Bengtsson, M. (2016). How to plan and perform a qualitative study using content analysis. Nursing Plus Open, 2(C), 8-14.

Corrales, A., Goldberg, F., Price, E., & Turpen, C. (2020). Faculty persistence with research-based instructional strategies: A case study of participation in a faculty online learning community. International Journal of STEM Education, 7(21), 1-15.

Edberg, J. (2017). Internationella studenter tycker till om sin studietid.

European Commission. (2020). The European higher education area Bologna process implementation report 2018.

Eynon, B., & Gambino, L. M. (2016). Professional development for high-impact e-portfolio practice. Peer Review, 18(3), 4-8.

Forman, J., & Damschroder, L. (2008). Qualitative content analysis. Oxford, U.K.: Elsevier.

Karlsson, S., Fjellström, M., Lindberg-Sand, Å., Scheja, M., Pålsson, L., Alvfors, J., & Gerén, L. (2016). Högskole-pedagogiskutbildning och pedagogisk meritering som grund för det akademiska lärarskapet. Sveriges universitets och högskoleförbund (SUFH).

Lindblom-Ylänne, S., Trigwell, K., Nevgi, A., & Ashwin, P. (2006). How approaches to teaching are affected by discipline and teaching context. Studies in Higher Education, 31(3), 285-298.

Nilsson, P. (2015). Expectations and experiences of inbound students: Perspectives from Sweden. Journal of International Students, 5(2), 161-174.

Pereira, D., Niklasson, L., & Flores, M. A. (2017) Students’ perceptions of assessment: a comparative analysis between Portugal and Sweden, Higher Education, 73(1), 153-173.

Phang, S. L. (2013). Factors influencing international students’ study destination decision abroad. GUP Göteborgs Universitet, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Rodgers, C. (2002) Seeing student learning: Teacher change and the role of reflection. Harvard Educational Review, 72(2), 230–253.

Statistical Central Byrån (SCB). (2019). Universitet och högskolor Internationell studentmobilitet i högskolan 2018/19.

Swedish Council for Higher Education, (UHR) (2020).

Swedish National Union of Students, (SFS). (2014) Recommendations on general learning outcomes for the teaching qualifications required for employment as academic teacher and on mutual recognition. Retrieved from:

Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ). (2020). Higher Education Institutions in Sweden. 2020 Status Report.

Sweden, (Sverige) (2020). Highly ranked universities.

Uusimaki, L. (2018). Teacher Agency. Relational Cultural Theory. In Maurizio Sibilio and Paola Aiello (ed) Lo sviluppo professionale dei docenti. Ragionare di agentività per una scuola inclusive (pp.209-305). Edises

Uusimäki, L., Garvis, S., & Sharma, U. (2018). Swedish final year early childhood preservice teachers’ attitudes, concerns and intentions towards inclusion. International Journal of Special Needs Education. DOI:




How to Cite

Uusimaki, L., & Garvis, S. (2020). Reflections of Learning Experiences of International Students in Sweden . Journal of International Students, 10(S2), 36–50.