Learning to Live interculturally: an exploration of experience and learning among a group of international students at a university in the UK

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Learning to Live interculturally: an exploration of experience and learning among a group of international students at a university in the UK

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dc.contributor.author Rich, Sarah Alice Louise en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2011-12-21T16:01:57Z en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2013-03-21T10:29:36Z
dc.date.issued 2011-06-06 en_US
dc.description.abstract n the past 30 years there has been a rapid and exponential growth in the numbers of people electing to complete all or part of their studies outside of their country of origin. This phenomenon has attracted considerable research attention, not least from those who are interested to describe the benefits seen to accrue from the opportunity this provides for an extended encounter with linguistic and cultural diversity. Notably, the widespread assumption that this can generate a new form of learning, commonly referred to as intercultural learning, which is understood to comprise increased tolerance, empathy and openness to the linguistic and cultural other. Despite the limited research data to substantiate these claims, among those interested to develop educational responses to globalization, the potential of intercultural contact to generate intercultural learning has considerable appeal and has been co-opted in the development of policy and practice to promote global citizenship at all levels of education. This has contributed to the emergence of a particular discourse about intercultural learning and is further fuelling the development of both short and long-stay study abroad programmes. This discourse is, however, increasingly called into question on account of the perceived overly-simplistic constructions of interculturality and learning on which it is premised. In particular, there is a growing recognition of the need to develop situated accounts of people’s everyday encounters with linguistic and cultural others which acknowledge the exigencies of the setting, as well as the impact of wider political economic and historical discourses on their positioning in intercultural encounters. The generation of ‘thick’ descriptions of people’s lived experiences of interculturality in global educational contact zones, it is argued, can lead to a more nuanced account of the intercultural learning these can afford. This was the aim of the study reported in this thesis. The study undertaken explores the relationship between an experience of interculturality and learning among 14 international students during their year-long sojourn at a university in the UK. Drawing upon a socially constructed relational understanding of learning informed by the transactional and dialogic conceptualization of learning developed by Dewey and Bakhtin among others, the study sought to generate a narrative account of participants’ experiences and learning generated from periodic individual and group interviews over the year as well as reflective accounts in participants portfolios and other opportunistic conversations recorded in the researcher log. Primary analysis of the data revealed that participants’ experiences generated a number of forms of learning. One of these, ‘learning about self in relation to linguistic and cultural other’ was identified as a form of intercultural learning, comprising learning to be more open to the other and learning about linguistic and cultural positioning. This was subsequently explored in more depth, revealing a complex interplay between these two elements and the strategic actions taken by participants to manage their encounters with linguistic and cultural others. These results revealed considerable differences in the learning trajectories and outcomes resulting from their intercultural encounter. The findings also point to the importance of sustained commitment to intercultural dialogue on the part of individuals and the perception of their ethical treatment by others as important to the direction their learning trajectories take. On the basis of these findings, it is argued that while an encounter with linguistic and cultural other may lead to increased tolerance, empathy and openness to other associated with the way intercultural learning is employed in much of the research literature, the strategic actions learners take to negotiate their linguistic and cultural positioning will critically inform the extent to which they develop these qualities. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the ways in which a situated and relational conceptualization of interculturality and learning is seen to contribute to a more informed and deeper understanding of the sorts of intercultural learning that are made possible by an intercultural encounter. I also identify a number of research agendas which can build upon the insights provided by the study. en_GB
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10036/3351 en_US
dc.language.iso en en_GB
dc.publisher University of Exeter en_GB
dc.subject global citizenship en_GB
dc.subject intercultural en_GB
dc.subject situated learning en_GB
dc.subject dialogism en_GB
dc.subject communities of practice en_GB
dc.subject positioning theory en_GB
dc.subject essentialist en_GB
dc.subject acculturation en_GB
dc.subject third space en_GB
dc.subject intercultural encounters en_GB
dc.subject socially constituted learning en_GB
dc.subject dialogic en_GB
dc.subject narrative enquiry en_GB
dc.subject relational dilemmas en_GB
dc.title Learning to Live interculturally: an exploration of experience and learning among a group of international students at a university in the UK en_GB
dc.type Thesis or dissertation en_GB
dc.date.available 2011-12-21T16:01:57Z en_US
dc.date.available 2013-03-21T10:29:36Z
dc.contributor.advisor Wegerif, Rupert en_US
dc.publisher.department College of Social Sciences and International Studies en_GB
dc.relation.references Dewey en_GB
dc.relation.references Bakhtin en_GB
dc.relation.references Biesta en_GB
dc.relation.references Harre en_GB
dc.relation.references Vygotsky en_GB
dc.relation.references Holliday en_GB
dc.relation.references Wenger en_GB
dc.relation.references Lave en_GB
dc.relation.references Burbules en_GB
dc.relation.references Glassman en_GB
dc.relation.references Baxter en_GB
dc.relation.references Dervin en_GB
dc.relation.references Appadurai en_GB
dc.relation.references Byram en_GB
dc.type.degreetitle PhD in Education en_GB
dc.type.qualificationlevel Doctoral en_GB
dc.type.qualificationname PhD en_GB


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