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RGU: DELTA. Cultural Awareness: Exploring staff intercultural competence for supporting a diverse student group. by Dr Charles Juwah Geoff Goolnik Catherine Ogilvie Department for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment. Content. Scene setting

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cultural awareness exploring staff intercultural competence for supporting a diverse student group

RGU: DELTA

Cultural Awareness: Exploring staff intercultural competence for supporting a diverse student group

by

Dr Charles Juwah

Geoff Goolnik

Catherine Ogilvie

Department for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment

content
Content
  • Scene setting
    • Globalisation and student diversity
    • Globalisation and student diversity – RGU experience
    • Pedagogical considerations
    • Dilemmas
  • Exploratory study: Staff cultural awareness and intercultural competence (work-in-progress)
    • Preliminary findings
    • Preliminary recommendations
      • Intervention strategies
  • Conclusions
  • Further reading
globalisation and student diversity
Globalisation and student diversity
  • Globalisation has led to:
    • Education across national boundaries and movement of people across countries and continents
    • The cosmopolitan nature of universities and higher education institutions across the world
  • At Robert Gordon University (RGU) over 60% of our postgraduate students are international students.
globalisation and student diversity rgu experience
Globalisation and student diversity - RGU experience

Students have a range of diversified educational backgrounds and prior knowledge

They have limited knowledge of the UK Higher Educational system and the British/Scottish cultures

Some find it very difficult at the initial stages to effectively engage with academic and social life (a situation which impacts on the student’s learning experience)

Some international students report (perceive) that their knowledge and experience are undervalued

Students report that staff are ‘unaware’ of their predicament (and this impacts on the student’s learning experience)

Their experience is characterised by a ‘disengagement’ with the academy

pedagogical considerations
Pedagogical considerations

All knowledge is socially mediated and grounded in culture (Lave and Wenger 1991, Vygotsky 1978)

Integrates with Current “Graduates of the 21st Century” Enhancement Theme:

A rounded graduate who is academically, professionally and interculturally competent and is able to adapt in a variety of contexts and situations

It is recognised that student diversity/international students:

enrich the learning environment as a good educational resource

provide alternative perspectives on way of learning and working

Learners from different cultures exhibit different:

Patterns of interactions with teachers and peers

Values (associated with their customs, traditions or belief)

pedagogical considerations1
Pedagogical considerations

There are conceptual and pedagogical challenges for intercultural education and teaching

There is a need to recognise diversity in how students access and engage with learning

We should show respect for the students (and their prior knowledge)

We should provide inclusive and equal access to knowledge, resources and technologies, etc.

We have to develop learning environments and situations which promote quality relationships between the diverse cultural groups

We need to identify effective facilitation methods that will both

engage and respond to the students’ cultural, language and academic needs e.g. What is the best intervention strategy when students get stuck?

dilemmas
Dilemmas

Drawing on evidence-based practice, we are inclined to

pose the questions:

Is diversity/international students – is this an awkward problem or a challenge?

Are our staff ‘culturally’ equipped to effectively support students to achieve the required graduate attributes within a cosmopolitan learning environment?

an exploratory study
An exploratory study
  • Are our staff in fact ‘culturally’ equipped to effectively support students to achieve the required graduate attributes within a cosmopolitan learning environment?
  • Exploratory study undertaken within RGU
    • Discussion held with twenty participants on the PGCert Higher Education Learning & Teaching (HELT) course
    • Focused interviews were conducted with 6 academics (two from each of the 3 Faculties. Two of the academics were international colleagues)
preliminary findings
Preliminary findings
  • Staff reported difficulty coping with student diversity related to:
    • mixed abilities in terms of academic literacy
    • limited or lack of student to student interactions during tutorial sessions
    • ‘ethnic grouping/clustering’ in the classroom, etc.
    • language difficulties, etc.
  • Staff were unaware of:
    • The ‘culture’ of their students
    • Their students previous educational cultural background
    • The students’ value system as it related to:
      • academic literacy (e.g. the concept of plagiarism, etc.)
      • interactions between teacher and student
preliminary recommendations
Preliminary recommendations
  • There is a need to support staff to develop intercultural awareness and competences to enable them further enhance the student experience within a multicultural environment
  • We should develop multiple intervention strategies
intervention strategies
Intervention strategies

Organise development sessions on:

Understanding international students’ previous educational backgrounds

Student adjustment to new academic cultures

Plagiarism

Provide resources on:

Diversity and the culture of teaching and learning

How to support international students

Suitable audit tool(s)

intervention strategies1
Intervention strategies

Use the rich and valuable resource of international academic colleagues to inform and enhance our:

knowledge of how students learn

pedagogic practices relating to teaching and assessment

support for students (e.g. intra- and inter-cultural mentoring/buddying) to enable students achieve their potential and the required graduate attributes

intervention strategies2
Intervention strategies
  • Engage staff in pedagogies that facilitate effective learning within mixed or monocultural groups
    • Teaching methods
      • use diverse and focused approaches
    • Curriculum design to take account of cultural issues
      • Incorporate cultural issues in course design
      • Internationalise the curriculum so as to reflect diversity and contemporary (global) practices
slide14

Intervention strategies

A curriculum design that offers intercultural competence

Personal

Attributes

Academic

Attributes

Subject/ discipline knowledge:Apply concepts & practice to a global context

a) Self aware

b) Culturally

sensitive

*

a) Value diversityb) Aware of diversity & issues which are relevant and impact on professional practice

*Intercultural competence, i.e.Think global and act local!

Professional Attributes

intervention strategies3
Intervention strategies
  • Aim for inclusivity
    • Understand differences and otherness
    • Understand both explicit and non-explicit “frames of references” or reference points e.g. institutional and societal norms, values, beliefs, meanings, conventions, practices, etc.
    • Acquire the language of academic discourse and modes of operation/engagement in both academic and societal settings
    • Integrate new knowledge and learning into academic practice (Byram & Zarate 1997)

Thus, intercultural awareness provides the interface between declarative knowledge (knowledge about) and procedural knowledge (knowledge of how to)

conclusions
Conclusions

Cultural issues are important in fostering collaboration amongst multicultural learners (in all learning contexts and environments – on campus, online, blended)

Devise intervention strategies to benefit all students

Don’t regard diversity and international students as awkward problems – They’re rewarding challenges!

Use diversity to enrich both the curriculum and to promote shared and collaborative learning

slide17

Further reading

  • JUWAH, C., LAL, D. & BELOUCIF, A., 2006. Overcoming the cultural issues associated with plagiarism for International students. A Report for the Higher Education Academy – Business, Management, Accounting and Finance Subject Network funded Teaching Research Project.
  • 2. GIROUX, N.D. (No Date). Critical Pedagogy. [online]. Available from:http://mingo.infoscience.uiowa.edu/~stevens/critped/giroux.htm
  • LAVE J. & WENGER, E.,1991. Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • MOLONEY, R., 2008. ‘You just want to be like that’ – teacher
  • modelling and intercultural competence in young language learners. Babel 42(3), pp. 11–18
  • 5. VYGOTSKY, L.S.,1978. Mind and society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press