International Infusion in Practice – From Cultural Awareness to Cultural Intelligence
Keywords:internationalisation, Erasmus, case study, cultural intelligence, intervention
United Kingdom (UK) Universities strive to increase international student numbers and claim to be internationalising the student experience. In parallel student-centred approaches appear to be the norm across learning, teaching and assessment strategies. However, a tension exists in delivering both of these claims concurrently in that domestic and inbound international students often have different experiences, expectations, needs and perceptions regarding pedagogy, support and curriculum. While programme delivery centres on the UK educational mode, universities tend to accommodate orientation for all students centrally, as a largely homogenous group.
This paper explores the experiences of inbound Erasmus exchange students from several European Union (EU) countries to determine if student-centred approaches are adequate to meet their needs. It also examines possible gaps in the tutor-student pedagogic experience, expectations and perceptions.
With reference to gap analysis, a case study of a module in a post-1992 University is explored. Observation, focus groups, policy analysis and quantitative analysis of student results are used to make sense of the intercultural pedagogic experiences of the students and potential implications for curriculum design and delivery.
Findings indicate that the processes and procedures put in place to support Erasmus students in navigating UK pedagogic styles, assessment and curriculum are insufficient to truly support the student journey in a way that student centeredness would imply. Key areas of discord revolve around curriculum structure, assessment style, expectations and pedagogic approach. In essence, the cognitive and intangible processes and aspects of the student journey are problematic with evidence to suggest that poor cross-institutional communication and generic orientation compound the challenges.
The research is particularly significant in that it highlights the need to provide a more reflective and reflexive approach to working with Erasmus students, requiring a shift away from a mechanistic focus on systems, structures and cultural awareness towards cultural intelligence.
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