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0. Teaching Across Cultures: Facilitating Cross-Cultural Teacher-Student Relationships. Kevin M. Johnston – Michigan State University Director, Teaching Assistant Programs [email protected] Quick Lists . List five famous Jewish people List five prominent Asian-Americans

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Teaching Across Cultures: Facilitating Cross-Cultural Teacher-Student Relationships

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Teaching across cultures facilitating cross cultural teacher student relationships l.jpg

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Teaching Across Cultures: Facilitating Cross-Cultural Teacher-Student Relationships

Kevin M. Johnston – Michigan State University

Director, Teaching Assistant Programs

[email protected]


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Quick Lists

  • List five famous Jewish people

  • List five prominent Asian-Americans

  • List five professional soccer players

  • List five major dance companies

  • List five famous African American men

  • List five white American authors

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Effective participation by members of all groups in the civic life of our Nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized….All members of our heterogeneous society must have confidence in the openness and integrity of the educational institutions.

-- U.S. Supreme Court, June 2003

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Project History/Process

  • International Instructor Development Context

    Language, Pedagogy, and (?) CULTURE

  • Consultations and “Repairations”

  • What’s (or WHO is) Generating Classroom Discord/Conflict?

  • The International/Domestic Teacher “Divide”

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Key Initial Questions

  • Are there (and what are the) cultural components shaping international (and US) instructors’ perceptions of what constitutes proper class conduct?

  • What communication and pedagogical issues exacerbate cultural clashes between teachers and students?

  • What are students’ self-reported perceptions of their ability to handle various incidences of classroom misconduct? Are there statistical consistencies that might shape organizational strategies for developing an “internationalized” campus?

  • How might we combine pedagogical, student retention, and Communication theory to reshape campus climes?

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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What Do We Mean by Teaching “Culture?”

  • Modern vs. Postmodern notions of Professional Development

  • Language as Culture

  • Culture as an evolving experience

  • “I” “We” “They” and learning theory

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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“Internationalizing” a Campus (from the inside-out)

  • Culture as a “problem” that needs to be addressed

  • Teaching as a manifestation of cultural difference

  • Western Paradigms shaping instruction, learning, training, production

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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How might we connect ideas of cultural diversity, notions of community, and fostering academic improvement for all students?

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Primary Challenges to Acculturating Natives

  • Saturated Curricula

  • Fear of teaching culture

  • Lack of training/Inadequate training

  • Measuring Cross-cultural Awareness

  • Measuring Attitude Change

  • What’s rewarding about integration?

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Overcoming “Defense Against Difference…” (Bennett, 1993)

  • Negative perception = personal protection

  • Siege Mentality Affect

  • Reproducing Difference… (Warren, 2008)

  • Redefining results/goals

DMIS - Hammer & Bennett 2001

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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From Considering Conflict to Considering Culture

  • What is “internationalization”?

  • How do departments socialize future faculty to teaching culture?

  • Upon whom is onus for demonstrating cross-cultural awareness?

  • How do we measure change?

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Professional Development Experiences?

  • Instructors generally focus more on administrational issues (grading, plagiarism) than they do relational issues.

  • International instructors in particular are confused over Teaching and Learning Theory and Practice.

  • Diversity is a cross cultural issue for everyone.

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Students who experienced the most racial and ethnic diversity in classroom settings and in informal interactions with peers showed the greatest engagement in active thinking processes, growth in intellectual engagement and motivation, and growth in intellectual and academic skills. --Michigan Student Study, Gurin, Gurin, Wade, et. al.

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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I’ve found that people participate, listen, interact, and “take home” what they learn from these kinds of discussions because they are …well…

who they are.

And they teach accordingly…

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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The simulacra of the Diversity education experience…

  • How are international faculty and graduate students responding to “diversity language and practice?

  • How are concepts of “difference” inhibiting/enhancing teaching practice?

  • WHAT ARE WE MISSING?

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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WORKSHEET Discussion

  • Discuss in a group of three the check-list found under the first question on the back of the worksheet: “What information about yourself do you share…?”

  • What items (if any) did you check?

  • If some of your answers depend on the circumstances, please elaborate.

  • If you feel any items would be inappropriate for an instructor to share with a class, explain why.

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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What can Universities do to help new teachers meet the demands of the American classroom?

  • Design programs based on solid needs assessment data.

  • Reconsider the role of “skill building” (McCaffery, 1993)

  • Reconsider Diversity in the context of Globalization

  • Educating English speakers to work with international faculty

  • Cornell University’s Cybertower

  • Assess cultural and practical change in the classroom

  • Center for the Integration of Teaching and Learning (CIRTL)

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Teaching Inclusively

  • Use dynamics of group work

  • Avoid gate keeping/tracking

  • Concept-based AND problem-based

  • Study groups outside of class

  • Avoid “under-teaching”

  • Relevant and varied modeling, topics, examples, and projects

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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Teaching Inclusively (cont.)

  • Open and challenging atmosphere

  • Use differences constructively

  • Give students shared responsibility

  • Encourage full participation

  • Provide a variety of modalities

  • Guide and support students to apply learning to their individual experiences

  • Reframe to take ‘heat’ off surprising or unpopular individual contributions

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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What Can “They” Tell “Us?”

What’s wrong with this statement?

MSU TAP 2009 - Kevin M. Johnston


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