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Seeking the internationalised self: transformative learning for staff as internationalisation of the curriculum in higher education. Dr Catherine Montgomery SRHE Seminar 8 July 2014. ‘Diversity’: an uncontested term? .

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Dr Catherine Montgomery SRHE Seminar 8 July 2014

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Dr catherine montgomery srhe seminar 8 july 2014

Seeking the internationalised self: transformative learning for staff as internationalisation of the curriculum in higher education

Dr Catherine Montgomery

SRHE Seminar

8 July 2014

Diversity an uncontested term

‘Diversity’: an uncontested term?

  • Concept of diversity (often phrased ‘equality and diversity’) is formalised in the university in committees and processes but seldom problematised

  • Diversity most often associated with the student – ‘the international student’ – another term that often remains uncontested

  • Diversity is sought primarily in cultural and ethnic backgrounds – not in perceptions or ways of thinking

  • Here I argue for diversity as embedded in ways of thinking and practising

Diversity culture and blame

Diversity, culture and blame

  • Diversity associated with culture and ethnicity

  • Pernicious link between culture and nationality

  • Unhelpful binaries of culture: west vs. east; international vs. home; individualist vs. collectivist

  • Culture (and diversity?) as a blame concept

    ‘the word culture is irretrievably tainted by the politics of identity and the politics of blame – including the racialization of behaviour it was meant to avoid’ (Trouillot, 2003)

Rethinking culture

Rethinking culture

  • Small cultures and large cultures (Holliday, 1999)

  • Cultures as communities of practice (Lave and Wenger, 1991)

  • University and the cultural ‘third space’ (Bhaba, 1994): a place where many small cultures meet

  • ‘cultures are dynamic systems which are constantly renegotiated and cultural meaning is created through the interaction of speakers/writers’ (Finkbeiner, 2005).

And questioning the role of language

and questioning the role of language

  • Language at university as a site of tensions and ‘neo-racism’ (Lee and Rice, 2007)

  • Now ‘native speakers’ are no longer born into monocultural or monolingual contexts – the myth of the native speaker (Kramsch, 1998)

    ‘In our days of frequent border crossings and of multilingual foreign language classrooms… I propose that we make the intercultural speaker the unmarked form and the infinite of language use, and the monolingual, monocultural speaker a slowly disappearing species or nationalistic myth’ (Kramsch, 1998: 30).

New globalised university contexts

new globalised university contexts?

  • contemporary universities are a place where cultures (and so perspectives) meet

  • ‘increasing salience of cultural and linguistic diversity’ is a facet of university learning contexts (New London Group, 1996, p. 60)

  • transformative learning may be a way to challenge established or accepted ways of thinking

University experience should be transformative

university experience should be transformative

  • Not just acknowledging diversity but ENGAGING with it and in it:

    ‘…truly engaging with ‘difference’ is a necessary, dangerous and a transformative business.’ (Rennie, 2010, p. 87).

  • staff and students engaging in sharing of diverse perspectives

Seek diversity in ways of thinking

Seek diversity in ways of thinking

  • Diversity as ways of thinking

  • Diversity of perceptions – link with curriculum and critical thinking in the disciplines

  • Why not begin with staff?

  • Reflection on ‘our own’ ways of thinking and ‘our own’ perceptions

Two research projects

Two research projects

  • Transformative learning as internationalisation of the curriculum in higher education (Clifford and Montgomery, 2014)

  • Seeking the internationalised self (Montgomery and Lewis)

Transformative learning and the curriculum

Transformative learning and the curriculum

  • Looking for a framework

  • Kitano’s (1997: 18) framework of ‘exclusive, inclusive and transformed’ levels of multicultural curriculum change (in content, dynamics, assessment)

  • See Morey (2000)

Transformative learning

Transformative learning

  • Reconceptualises content through a shift in paradigm or standard; presents content through a non-dominant perspective

  • Change in power structure so that teachers and students learn from each other; analysing content against personal experience; critical analysis

  • Challenging of biased views and sharing of diverse perspectives; equity in participation

    (Morey, 2000)

Faculty of Education in China 2014

Transformative learning and staff

Transformative learning and staff

  • In 2008 we (Clifford and Montgomery) designed an online course about internationalisation of the curriculum for university educators - based on principles of transformative learning (for them and their students)

  • Used Kitano’s (1997: 18) framework of ‘exclusive, inclusive and transformed’ levels of multicultural curriculum change (in content, dynamics, assessment)

  • aimed at moving beyond curriculum redesign to encouraging development of a ‘philosophy’ by challenging participants to critically reflect on transformative learning and how it could be used in their academic context

The research

the research

  • Longitudinal study gathered data over 5 years through 6 iterations of the course since 2008

  • 109 teacher/educators working in universities in 9 different countries from across the world

  • Data generated from online discussions between participants and tutors

  • Data thematically analysed using data-driven coding

  • Codes and themes developed (and ‘reliability’ supported by inter-rater analysis – i.e. by more than one person independently)

Analysis of full data book under construction

Analysis of full data – book under construction

  • *This presentation is mainly based on two iterations of the course and provides a snapshot of the findings – see article in Higher Education Quarterly 2014 (Clifford and Montgomery, 2014)

  • 19 participants from UK, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Columbia

  • 11 academics from politics, architecture, science, medicine, law, business, physiotherapy, French, English Language, Communication and the Media

  • 8 from management, teaching and learning ‘developers’ or other ‘non-academic’ roles

The focus

the focus

  • wanted to find out about the ways in which university educators negotiated cultural, linguistic and disciplinary contexts in order to provide internationalised, transformative learning experiences for their students

  • what did we find?

Idealistic and radical

idealistic and radical?

  • teachers had idealistic and ambitious views of what they wanted to achieve with their students

  • Higher education should ‘empower students to become agents of change in their own lives and in society’

  • Internationalised education could offer students an ‘awareness of self, of their own strengths and prejudices’ and new ways of thinking

  • ‘students [should] decide what should be learnt, how it is to be learnt and how assessed’

University education should be transformative

University education should be transformative?

  • At the political level, some saw the ultimate goal as students becoming active ‘global citizens’ concerned with, and taking action on, such ideals as social justice, equality and social responsibility:

  • ‘Indeed where else would the 21st century graduates learn about this if not at the university to enforce their sense of ethical values’

Pedagogy teacher student relationships

Pedagogy – teacher student relationships

  • Teachers saw the teacher-student relationship being crucial to the process of transformative change.

  • But questioned student ‘readiness’ to allow roles to change - saw students as being ‘extrinsically motivated to participate in tertiary education’ and ‘wanting to gain a correct answer to [a] problem’.

  • ‘My College is a private provider and expensive too! So to start with, the students think that they haven’t come from the other end of the world and paid all that money for them to contribute texts, ideas and reflections. They haven’t come here either to listen to their peers. They have come to hear from the specialist!’

Positionality of teachers

positionality of teachers

  • As well as their own cultural biases and the embeddedness of their western perspectives (how do you teach outside your own perspectives?) the participants were concerned about their levels of skills and knowledge

    ‘even assuming an appropriate level of broadmindedness, how do we treat very sensitive subjects in the classroom? What do we do if we disagree with the values being exhibited by others? This requires the acquisition of particular skills.’

Personal change of the teacher

personal change of the teacher

  • Teachers noticed their own need for transformation, to become ‘reflective and critical teachers and to look at how we view the world as individuals, how we respond to it and act within it’

  • ‘Until now I have not consciously reflected on my own degree of internationalisation to any great extent in how the concept relates to me personally and professionally and therefore developing an understanding of how this may affect my practice’.

Set up for an age long gone

‘set up for an age long gone’?

  • ‘From the perspective of influencing change, the challenge will be to overcome resistance that is deeply rooted in some of our institutions that were set up for an age long gone. However, if the purpose of university education is to interrogate and challenge old paradigms of knowledge to build new knowledge and ways of knowing then IoC [internationalisation of the curriculum] need not sit in contrast but rather be considered a natural development of a dynamic institution’.

Networked universities and multi contextual worlds

Networked universities and multi-contextual worlds

  • How can contemporary universities change in order to enable genuine interaction to emerge?

  • Transformation is required in the way we network with our research and in the way we teach

  • Pedagogic change is required in all contexts

Faculty of Education in China 2014

From online reflection to staff mobility

From online reflection to staff mobility

  • Internationalisation work with China

  • Seeking changes in staff perceptions and ways of thinking through staff interaction in research and mobility

  • Developing vignettes of staff transformation in ways of thinking and perceiving (project in initial stages – Montgomery and Lewis)

Vignette 1 an experienced traveller transforms

Vignette 1: an experienced traveller transforms

  • ‘I think that I had preconceptions about a race or a country of how I perceived the country to be, even though, I mean I have been to the Far East before, I have been to Malaysia, I have been to Thailand, I grew up in Hong Kong…’

  • ‘it made me… less fearful about going and doing things, that are out of my comfort zone… I do think it was good for me professionally, it opened my eyes to different things. It has made me look at… comparative work, or… at what we have and at different ways of working within early years, and maybe looking at Scandinavia as well, and looking at those different professional identities. So it has changed me from that perspective, it has made me more outward looking I think’.

Rethinking the curriculum professional change

Rethinking the curriculum: professional change

  • ‘I do think we need to think about the international impact… not just looking and teaching from a UK perspective. It is looking outside...and interestingly they study our pioneers, they study Montessori, they study Frobel, they study Piaget, they do all of that. They are not an alien being that is studying something completely different! So there are similarities and I think it is important to recognise that, that actually a lot of what we teach isn’t just about here in England, this is across the world, and other people are learning about it and maybe looking for that international element, and bringing it in more so to across our modules really.’

Vignette 2 a new lens

Vignette 2: A new lens?

  • ‘I think it has given me a very different lens as to the challenges that the students worry about when they come to England.’

  • ‘I think that, like I said, it has given us a very different lens on their culture, how very different in some respects that is from the culture in England and what they’ll experience when they come here, and what the barriers and challenges are going to be when they get here, and what their anxieties are going to be when they get here. But also it’s taught us what they respond to and what they enjoy in terms of teaching’.

New understandings of cultural diversity

new understandings of cultural diversity

  • ‘The first day when we arrived there and they were very – they were having this conversation around the table and it was incredibly uncomfortable that they were speaking this other language, they were obviously talking about us and we weren’t sure what on earth was going on. We repeated this meal on the last day, and everybody was far more – everybody was laughing round the table. When the Chinese language was going on, it didn’t feel worrying or threatening at all in that point, to the point you could make jokes about it and say, ‘Oh yeah, I got all of that.’ And they laughed, because they realised that, actually, we were feeling a little bit uncomfortable. And I think we became much more acquainted with their culture, their way of working, the way they expressed themselves, and because we became very comfortable with that it meant that we were able to relate to them… their challenges are basically the same as our challenges here.’

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