Intercultural learning as lived experiences : a pedagogic exploration among international students and staff in a UK tertiary education setting

Moehrke-Rasul, Diana (2015) Intercultural learning as lived experiences : a pedagogic exploration among international students and staff in a UK tertiary education setting. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Intercultural learning in UK tertiary education is largely operationalised as a universal or implied term. The focus generally is on the internationalisation of the curriculum, which has mainly developed in response to the recruitment drive of international students to local campuses over the last two decades. Within this market-centric context, a stronger educational rationale has been advocated, which in recent years has promoted a ‘pedagogy of recognition’ (Caruana and Spurling, 2007, p. 66), rejecting international students’ automatic assimilation to the prevalent socio-academic culture. Although international students are regarded as ‘a resource for learning’ in this context (Ryan, 2011, p. 633), a praxis grounding of how to facilitate this ostensibly more progressive approach is not readily apparent. In this research project with international students and staff at my former workplace, a private tertiary education college in London, I investigated in what ways cultural diversity is understood and interpreted pedagogically. The research aim was to explore what constitutes lived experiences of intercultural learning, in order to inform my praxis choices with regard to a pedagogy of recognition. A bricolage approach, comprising critical pedagogic theory and hermeneutic phenomenological methodology, was adopted to facilitate the project embedded within this distinct socio-economic educational context, further involving 52 online questionnaires and 38 semi-structured interviews with international students and staff of the college during summer 2013. The research contributes to current internationalisation discourse by proffering a theory/practice understanding of a pedagogy of recognition with regard to fostering intercultural learning. It identifies the importance of including an embodied dimension in pedagogic praxis, whereby intercultural learning among participants is approached with reference to a safety/risk axis. Specifically, it suggests alerting students to learning opportunities that might be realised from intercultural interactions without predetermining these, considering that intercultural learning is always more complex than teachers’ rationales and deeply ingrained in students’ own life projects and the wider political arena. Consequently, I argue that possibilities for human creativity among learners, rather than mere celebration of cultural diversity or assumed shared outcomes, become available.

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