Channeling interactions between local and international students through a blended approach


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HODGSON, Paula (Hong Kong Baptist University); CURRY, Janel (Gordon College); VRIJMOED, Lilian (United International College)
The internationalization of higher education has provided extended opportunities for students to have international experiences such as student exchange programmes or overseas internships. This paper addresses how local and international students with diverse cultural background and different learning styles can have better channels of communication in learning, interacting and collaborating through the classroom and out-of-classroom settings with a blended approach to teaching and learning.

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Channeling interactions between local and international students through a blended approach

  1. 1. Channeling interactions between local and international students through a blended approach Paula HODGSON, Hong Kong Baptist University; Janel CURRY, Gordon College; Lilian VRIJMOED, United International College This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
  2. 2. Outline • Potential for internationalization of higher education (HE) in classrooms • Issues relating to internationalization in classrooms • Considerations of student diversity • Classroom practice • Technology for an enhanced learning experience • Implications • Conclusion
  3. 3. Internationalization of HE WHAT? Internationalization is a ‘process (continuing effort) of integrating an international and intercultural dimension into the teaching, research and service functions of the institution.’ Knight (2003: 2) WHY? Preparing graduates with • global perspectives • intercultural skills
  4. 4. Teaching/learning environment Teacher/student groups • International scholars/teachers • Local international/ intercultural experts • International students on home campus • Local ethnic groups International dimensions • Create cultural diversity in the classroom • Teaching materials with international perspectives
  5. 5. Potential for internationalization of higher education in classrooms Increased population of international students (IS) in classroom, this may potentially • Provide a rich teaching resource • Interact with local students from the host institution • Increase opportunity to develop global awareness and avoid stereotyping (Sawir 2013) • Broaden perspectives and horizon to home students (Barron 2006; Sawir 2013) • Develop intercultural competence (Summers and Volet 2008), and value differences (Chang 2006) • Motivate home students to put more effort into academic work (Trice 2003)
  6. 6. Positive outcomes • Providing more alternatives when approaching problems (Summers and Volet 2008) • Assignments done in culturally mixed groups attained higher marks, on average, than the usual individual performances of both their local and international members [a study conducted in UK] (De Vita 2002)
  7. 7. Polarized findings Positive • IS were reported to value the interactive mode (i.e. discussion based learning) of unit delivery over a sometimes assumed teacher-centred mode. Reid (2002) in Hellstén and Prescott (2004) • IS sitting in the front two rows with strong work orientation. Harrison and Peacock (2010) Negative • Asian students reported lower levels of English proficiency than the European students. Poyrazli and Kavanaugh (2006) • Due to language barriers, and cultural norms, IS are often reluctant to participate in classroom discussions. Kwon (2009)
  8. 8. Issues (1) • Diversity in cultural background • Larger gap in language communication, i.e. English Language proficiency • Difference in expectations on teaching methods: teacher- centred (Asian students) versus learner-centred (Eaves 2009) • Difference in expectations on learning culture: acceptance vs critical evaluation of information / knowledge (Sawir 2013)
  9. 9. Issues (2) • The most typical pattern is one of minimal interaction between students of different cultures (Summers and Volet 2008). Patchy interactions between home students and international students in their activities (Briguglio 1998; Smart, Volet and Ang 2000; Leask 2009) • International students tend to interact ONLY with other international students (Bradley 2000), and vice versa with host students (Sovic 2008) • A common stereotypical belief that students from Asian backgrounds prefer rote-learning styles and tend to be passive in classroom interaction; IS lack confidence in speaking up in class (Guo and Chase 2011) • Home students may be concerned about lowering of academic performance in cross-cultural group work (Jones 2010)
  10. 10. Considerations of student diversity (home and IS) • Individualist vs collectivist orientation to cooperation • Task-focused vs relationship-focused behaviour • Outspoken (extrovert) vs quiet-listening (introvert) interpersonal styles • Direct-confrontational vs indirect-harmonious approaches to negotiation and discussion Turner 2009: 251
  11. 11. Classroom practice • Professors as being caring, approachable; have heighten cultural awareness and ready to learn about the other culture (Leask 2009; Ryan and Viete 2009) • Delivering at a slower pace and avoiding the use of slang and metaphors (De Vita 2000) • Inviting international perspectives and components in the context of the teaching (Crose 2011) • Structuring home and IS students’ involvement in small-group classroom activities (Crose 2011; Leask 2009) • Ensuring fairer turn-taking (Ryan and Viete 2009) • Peer-pairing by matching a host student with an international student (Summers and Volet 2008) • Allowing more time for non-English-speaking IS to prepare and formulate ideas, and review assignments particularly (Sovic 2008) • Engaging students on building intellectual depth (Chang 2006) • Encouraging reflection as a learning strategy to embrace inclusivity (Turner 2009)
  12. 12. Technology for enhanced learning experiences • Inviting IS and home students to build a personal profile in the learning management system (LMS) • Using technology like smartphones or tablets to make in- class individual responses (BYOD) • Having summary of group discussion posting to forum in LMS in the class • Inviting IS and home students to contribute to different perspectives and opinions on forum after class • Using collaborative platform (wiki) to allow IS and home students working in group tasks/projects • Providing additional support when necessary through synchronous and asynchronous apps with text, images or audio (What’s App, WeChat)
  13. 13. Implications • The two-way process of cross-cultural interaction requires efforts from both IS and home students • Teaching faculty need to have knowledge of the background of students with acceptance of and interest in the cultural backgrounds of IS • Adopting teaching methods that draw on reflective and inclusive teaching philosophies, i.e. accommodation of diversity with culturally sensitive communication styles (Hellstén and Prescott 2004) • Encouraging IS to engage in dialogue and questioning in the classroom with home students as examples (Crose 2011) • Having assessment tasks that embrace diverse perspectives and synthesis of different cultural experiences (Leask 2009) • Ensuring the opportunity to use learning technologies to scaffold learning between IS and home students (Gray, Chang and Kennedy 2010)
  14. 14. Conclusion • A culturally diverse learning environment is potentially conducive to developing a global outlook in international classrooms • Building cross-cultural competence for professors, tutors, IS and home students is essential for internationalization in higher education classrooms • Creating multiple structured opportunities for interactions • Extending face-to-face interactions with online interactions to promote open-mindedness, and a learning and sharing culture, through blending learning technologies (LMS, google apps, smartphone apps) • Ensuring fair and respectful means of communication
  15. 15. References • Barron, P. (2006). Stormy outlook? domestic students' impressions of international students at an australian university. Journal of Teaching in Travel & Tourism, 6(2), 5-22. • Bradley, G. (2000). Responding effectively to the mental health needs of international students, Higher Education, 39(4), 417-433. • Briguglio, C. (1998). Non-English Speaking Background (NESB) Students’ Perceptions of Their Linguistic and Educational Needs, Equity and Access Grant Report, Curtin University, Bentley. • Chang, J. (2006). A transcultural wisdom bank in the classroom: Making cultural diversity a key resource in teaching and learning. Journal of Studies in International Education, 10(4), 369–377. • Crose, B. (2011). Internationalization of the higher education classroom: Strategies to facilitate intercultural learning and academic success. International Journal of Teaching & Learning in Higher Education, 23(3), 388–395. • De Vita, G. (2000). Inclusive approaches to effective communication and active participation in the multicultural classroom. Active Learning in Higher Education, 1(2), 168– 180. • De Vita, G. 2002. Does assessed multicultural group work really pull UK students’ average down? Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(2), 153–61. • Eaves, M. (2009). Learning styles technology and supporting overseas learners. Multicultural Education and Technology, 3(1), 61-73. • Gray, K., Chang, S., & Kennedy, G. (2010). Use of social web technologies by international and domestic undergraduate students: Implications for internationalising learning and teaching in Australian universities. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 19(1), 31–46. • Guo, S., & Chase, M. (2011). Internationalisation of higher education: Integrating international students into Canadian academic environment. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(3), 305–318. • Hellstén, M., & Prescott, A. (2004). Learning at university: The international student experience. International Education Journal, 5(3), 344-351. • Harrison, N. & Peacock, N. (2010) ‘Interactions in International Classroom: The UK Perspective’ in Jones, E. (Ed) Internationalisation and the student voice: higher education perspectives. pp.125-142. • Jones, E. (2010). Internationalisation and the student voice. New York: Routledge. • Knight, J. (2003). Updating the definition of internationalization. International Higher Education, 33(6), 2–3. • Kwon, Y. (2009). Factors affecting international students’ transition to higher education institutions in the United States: From the perspective of Office of International Students. College Student Journal, 43(4), 1020–1036. • Leask, B. (2009). Using formal and informal curricula to improve interactions between home and international students. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), 205–221. • Poyrazli, S. & Kavanaugh, P. R. (2006). Marital status, ethnicity, academic achievement, and adjustment strains: The case of graduate international students, College Student Journal, 40(4), 767-780. • Ryan, J., & Viete, R. (2009). Respectful interactions: Learning with international students in the english-speaking academy. Teaching in Higher Education, 14(3), 303–314. • Smart, D., Volet, S. and Ang, G. (2000), Fostering Social Cohesion in Universities: Bridging the Cultural Divide, Australian Education Foundation, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Canberra. • Summers, M. & Volet, S. (2008). Students' attitudes towards culturally mixed groups on international campuses: Impact of participation in diverse and non-diverse groups. Studies in Higher Education, 33(4), 357-370. • Sawir, E. (2013). Internationalisation of higher education curriculum: the contribution of international students. Globalisation, Societies & Education, 11(3), 359–378. • Sovic, S. (2008). Lost in transition? the international students’ experience project. London: Creating Learning in Practice, Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, University of the Arts London. Access at: Public-Report.pdf • Trice, A.G. (2003). Faculty perceptions of graduate international students: The benefits and challenges. Journal of Studies in International Education, 7(4) 379–403. • Turner, Y. (2009). “Knowing me, knowing you,” is there nothing we can do? pedagogic challenges in using group work to create an intercultural learning space. Journal of Studies in International Education, 13(2), 240–255.
  16. 16. Channeling interactions between local and international students through a blended approach