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Learning in a new culture and in an intercultural environment. Lars Peter Jensen and Xiangyun Du Department of Control Engineering Department of Education, Learning and Philosophy . Overview . 9:30 – 9:40 Workshop introduction

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learning in a new culture and in an intercultural environment
Learning in a new culture

and in an intercultural environment

Lars Peter Jensen and Xiangyun Du

Department of Control Engineering

Department of Education, Learning and Philosophy

  • 9:30 – 9:40 Workshop introduction
  • 9:40 – 10:30 Reflection on culture and intercultural communication
  • 10.30 – 13.00 Project work on a case study, incl. lunch break
  • 13:00 – 14:00 Guest lecture by Torben Brændgaard, Grundfoss
  • 14.00 – 15.00 Project work cont.
  • 15:00 – 16.00 Project presentation

Am I teaching the same way I was taught?

Need for Innovation in Engineering Education

coming to dk sweden to learn innovative ways

I don’t


the lecturer

What on earth

the supervisor wanted

me to do?

I am


So difficult to do a

project in group work!

Coming to DK – Sweden to learn innovative ways…
meeting cultures cultural shock

Meeting cultures – Cultural shock

Please write 3 words

For foreign students:

What were your most impressive observations on arrival of AAU/DK?

For Danish students:

What were your most impressive

observations on arrival of another



East vs. West - Cultural Differences

comparison of Western and Asian culture in the eyes of a Chinese raised in Germany.


intercultural communication non verbal language
Intercultural communication- non-verbal language


Manners and body language – eye contact, distance, etc.

Rasmussen & Bank-Mikkelsen 2000: 8)

intercultural communication cultural understanding
‘The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn\'t being said.’

(Peter F. Drucker American Educator, b.1909)


(Herlitz 1989:60)

Intercultural communication- cultural understanding
intercultural communication cultural understanding1
Intercultural communication- cultural understanding

How would you read this ad of pills?

(Herlitz 1989:38)

intercultural communication power of language
Intercultural communication- Power of language

Please work in pairs, talking to different people using the script which follows…

The script:

A: ‘Hello’.

B: ‘Hello’.

A: ‘You are late’.

B: ‘I know’.

Try to do it completely differently each time.

intercultural communication in teaching and learning
Intercultural communication in teaching and learning

Why is culture an issue?

  • Development of intercultural competencies for future engineers
  • Establishment of international program

Globalized context

Effective communication

Interdisciplinary knowledge

Designing and conducting experiments

Identity and solve applied science problems

Application of

mathematics and science knowledge

Analytical skills

Lifelong learning

Project management

Team work

Social, environmental, and ethical concerns

Intercultural competencies

Developing intercultural competencies for future engineers

Diverse capabilities

  • National Academy of Engineering, The Engineer of 2020, 2004
  • EUR-ACE (Accreditation of European Engineering Programmes and Graduates,http://www.feani.org/EUR_ACE/EUR_ACE_Main_Page.htm
  • - ABET: http://www.abet.org/
challenges and identified problems 1
Challenges and identified problems 1
  • Miscommunication arises due to
    • Use of second language (English) as a means of communication
    • Learning and working styles
    • Personality
challenges and identified problems 2 different beliefs on ways of learning different expectations




Challenges and identified problems 2Different beliefs on/ways of learning – different expectations

Educational background

challenges and identified problems 2 different beliefs on ways of learning
Challenges and identified problems 2Different beliefs on/ ways of learning
  • Nobody knows the exact answers until the project is finished
  • Students are responsible for managing their own learning
  • Learners are creating new knowledge

Studying in a PBL environment, Denmark

challenges and identified problems 3 can group work be an efficient way of learning
Challenges and identified problems 3Can group work be an efficient way of learning?

Will they believe me because I am a girl??

NO, I can’t get up anyway

YES, we can meet at 8 tomorrow morning

It is my turn to talk?

If we don’t follow the supervisor’s suggestion, will he allow us to pass?

Listen to me, I am very experienced

He complains of my garlic, but he has coffee and carrots all the time!!!

They don’t understand even such easy things!!

doing project in groups



Doing project in groups













Student’s reflection

`I have never worked in a group in my educational life… In group work, I preferred to listen when some students discussed intensely, because I could not understand why it was a question to discuss. Sometimes I could not follow their ideas or thinking. I need to change and actively work in the group.´(Chinese female master student)



Is ethnicity the only reason that

makes us different?

Young girl








is culture something we are born with

(Jensen 2005:18)

Is culture something we are born with?

’I got culture from mom’s breast breeding’


You are so big. You can not stay here! Come back when you become smaller!

(Jensen 2005:72)

Learning from each other vs. cultural integration

Self vs. others

Acceptance vs. adaptation

pbl in international programs aau denmark

Cultural reflections

A new culture to be established

PBL in International programs, AAU, Denmark

Different backgrounds in educational culture

Doing PBL in ‘the right’ way!

Root of PBL in DK

- Tradition of group

work in Denmark

- Critical thinking

- Emphasis on

- Collaboration

and participation

- Lower power gap

- Close link between

industry and university

a real life case for today s workshop
A real life case for today’s workshop

Confucius Institute for Innovation & Learning, AAU is playing a role of facilitating intercultural and international collaboration between DK-China. In collaboration with Investment Denmark, a state-run organization, to attract and facilitate Chinese industry to invest in north DK. BRANDEN, a biomed company in China showed interest and is exploring opportunities. These days the CEO, Mr Zhang, comes to Aalborg for a visit.

a real life case for today s workshop1
A real life case for today’s workshop

Please work out a list of recommendations for BRANDEN to successfully develop a new international small-middle size company in North DK.

Both Danish and foreign graduates from Aalborg University will be potential employees in the new company, together with Engineers from China, North DK and other countries.

Is there any special issues to prepare/consider for establishing a company in North DK , e.g. cultural issues?

What are the culture preparations for employing international staff (engineers, scientists and medicine people) and facilitate an efficient working environment? How to prepare for meetings, how to approach people, etc.

What management style will you suggest to lead the new company?

Which parts of the company profile should be emphasized in a job adverticement to attract graduates from Aalborg University?

Prepare a short (5 min) presentation of your recommendations.


profile of branden
Profile of Branden

Branden is a professional medical device supplier, who also handles its own R&D, production and marketing services. The company was founded in 1996, registered in Zhongguancun, Haidian District in Beijing. Over a decade, the company experienced a rapid growth period. http://www.brandentech.com


  • advanced technology in medical polymer material production, especially in silicone production and research field.
  • focusing on medical plasma technology, engineers have enlarged our range of products with a plasma sterilizer and a plasma electrotome system.
  • key techniques like drug coating, coating spreading techniques, as well as brand new highly effecient drugs.

Intellectual property:

  • Branden pays special attention to international cooperation with its partners and cares for the respect of intellectual property rights.
  • We have succeeded in building cooperation relationships with universities and laboratories -in Germany, the Netherlands, and the US- concerning drug-eluting stents, biodegradable metals and polymer materials, and the medical plasma technology field.
  • Due to our efforts, we have obtained over ten patens in China as well as PCT international patent in the key technologies of these fields.
profile of branden1
Profile of Branden


  • Branden’s R&D team, marketing team and management employees have an extinguish feature of diversification. In fact they all have backgrounds or work experiences in medical, polymer material, biomedical engineering, and mechanical manufacturing.
  • This feature allows our employees to understand the specific needs of our clients in terms of product R&D and design process. We provide our customers with reasonable solutions to meet their requests.
  • Branden has its branches in the main cities of China mainland including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Jinan. Moreover, branden is proud of having won its acceptance of U.S major buyers such as Cardinal Health, Medline, Diamics as well as multinational companies in Europe and Japan, being permitted to be their official supplier.


  • Branden has a global vision of business, by now it has branches in Germany, the USA, Brazil, and Malaysia.
  • Its products have been exported to over 20 countries and regions including Europe, the USA, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, India, Taiwan etc...
  • Its annual exporting growth rate reached 100% for the last three years.
profile of branden2
Profile of Branden

Corporate culture:

  • Our goal is to become an excellent company recognized by the actors of the Medical field.


  • Branden keeps developing medical and health-care products of high technology; making efforts to open up now markets; providing ongoing staff training, career and personal development opportunities.

Respecting human rights:

  • Branden treats its employees equally, strives to build up a working environment which benefits employees’ communication. Branden believes one of the key criteria to become an excellent company is to make its staff feel relaxed and at ease on the workplace.


  • Branden put its customers in the first place, providing them with services and products of the best quality. The success of the company lies on this whole philosophy.