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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Dr Charles Juwah
Department for the Enhancement of Learning, Teaching and Assessment
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
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)
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?
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?
Organise development sessions on:
Understanding international students’ previous educational backgrounds
Student adjustment to new academic cultures
Provide resources on:
Diversity and the culture of teaching and learning
How to support international students
Suitable audit tool(s)
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
A curriculum design that offers intercultural competence
Subject/ discipline knowledge:Apply concepts & practice to a global context
a) Self aware
a) Value diversityb) Aware of diversity & issues which are relevant and impact on professional practice
*Intercultural competence, i.e.Think global and act local!
Thus, intercultural awareness provides the interface between declarative knowledge (knowledge about) and procedural knowledge (knowledge of how to)
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